There is no single cookie cutter mold for packaging solutions across all industries - or even within the same industry, for that matter. Each industry and product has its own specifications that require different strategies. In the electronics industry, for example, packages need to be able to protect all of the small parts within a device, while the food industry requires products be kept in a sanitary environment.

64 percent of Reusable Plastic Containers (RPCs) failed sanitary standards, while 56 percent had higher levels of contaminants than would be expected from cleaned containers.

When product focus, objectives and best practices are not clearly defined and documented, the results can be potentially devastating. For instance, if an electronics company puts saving material over the security of its product, numerous devices could be damaged before they even reach the hands of their customers. The same theory holds true within the food industry.

Studies zero in on current produce packaging complications

A new study indicates that plastics involved with packaging fruits and vegetables in Canada could compromise the health of many customers throughout the country. Packaging Digest explains that a study held by the University of Guelph investigating the use of Reusable Plastic Containers (RPCs) found that this packaging strategy was compromising the quality of the produce they contained.

The study deduced that a high percentage of the RPCs were not effectively cleaned, leaving the food they held susceptible to pathogens such as salmonella and norovirus.

According to the news source, some retailers require the use of such RPCs in the transportation of fruit and vegetables from farm to store. However, the study found that 64 percent of RPCs failed sanitary standards, while 56 percent had higher levels of contaminants than would be expected from cleaned containers.

The staggering results of this study resulted in an increased demand for corrugated boxes - both aiding in sustainable packaging and reducing future risk of contamination.

Corrugated box packaging alternatives

Because produce can vary in size, shape and weight, the following variables should be considered when selecting a box design:

  • Required weight capacity
  • Palletization
  • Potential temperature fluctuations
  • Environmental exchanges including humidity and/or mixed precipitation
  • Typical box styles such as the half-slotted container are ready to use and can store large amounts of product. Telescope style boxes are also a convenient box style to incorporate as they have a lid that can "telescope" over the body of the package, making it a convenient way to access the produce inside on multiple occasions.

    Temperature monitoring labels monitor quality and safety

    WarmMark Environmental Indicators, developed by Shockwatch, help protect the vitality of products as they move from one point to another by monitoring temperature fluctuations above or below a defined level. As reported by the National Resources Defenses Council in the United States, 12 percent of produce spoils during distribution and retail operations. In effort to disengage that percentage of lost goods, temperature monitoring labels offer the following benefits:

  • Aids receivers in determining if product quality has been compromised
  • Provides evidence of exposure to unacceptable temperature conditions
  • Supports compliance with government standards and guidelines
  • Aids in maintaining quality of the product throughout transportation cycle
  • Identifies potential unacceptable product quality before delivery to end user
  • Helps identify trouble spots in storage and transportation
  • Can be used with existing packaging or as part of new package designs
  • Corrugated boxes and shipping condition monitoring labels can be used across varying markets without second thought. The versatility of these two core packaging products to incorporate both strength and resilience against temperature and environmental changes continues to be a mainstay within the packaging food and produce industry.