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What Europe Can Teach North America about Fresh Supply Chain Efficiency

Posted by IFCO Systems
August 26, 2015

In 2013, the Fraunhofer Institute for Material Flow and Logistics and the Cold-Chain Management Working Group at the University of Bonn conducted a study to evaluate the link between product damage and packaging type. The study concluded that along with their ability to streamline efficiencies throughout the supply chain, Reusable Plastic Containers (RPCs) are the most effective packaging type when it comes to keeping produce at peak freshness and reducing packaging damage throughout the supply chain.

Although a European study, North American companies can still learn a great deal from these results and the way European companies manage their fresh supply chains.

As the standard form of fresh produce packaging for Europe’s leading retailers, RPCs have been in use in Europe for nearly 25 years. Through widespread adoption, RPCs have become available in 10 different styles across Europe to cover a range of fruit and vegetables, and have proven to significantly reduce damage to goods in transportation and storage. Many North American companies have already seen the benefits of RPC protection first hand, and there is a huge opportunity to adopt RPCs throughout the entire supply chain in comprehensive way.

Here’s a quick look at the findings of the European study, throughout the whole supply chain from producer to the retailer:

  • Disposable packaging: 4.2% of all cardboard boxes were found damaged and 20% of the product arriving in the damaged packaging sustained damage.
  • Reusable packaging: 0.12% of all reusable crates were found damaged and none of the product arriving in damaged packaging sustained damage.
  • Conclusion: 34 out of 35 cases of packaging damage can be prevented by using reusable crates instead of cardboard boxes.

From this study, we can see the optimal product protection offered by RPCs. The widespread adoption of RPCs in Europe by leading retailers has had a significant effect on their efficiency throughout the supply chain.

Click here to download the study results and to learn more about the leading causes of packaging damage and how RPC design works to create better protection for your products.

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