Totes keep produce fresh from field to store

A two-part reusable plastic tote features a frame that cradles produce in a recyclable, replaceable sleeve.

By · January 18, 2018

Getting fresh produce from field to market or processor has long relied on one-time-use, wax-coated corrugated boxes. Although the wax is intended to prevent the box from collapsing in a high-humidity environment, it frequently fails. Further, the coating adds to the boxes’ cost and renders them unrecyclable.

Alternately, reusable plastic produce totes can be expensive and weigh up to 5 pounds. And both solutions are rigid, which means more delicate items can get bruised if packed too densely or when stacked.

To address all of those issues, Eco Pack Systems has developed a new fresh food handling tote that consists of an easy-to-assemble reusable plastic frame supporting a single-use ventilated plastic sleeve, explains CEO Danny Bartal.

“The plastic sleeve portion acts like a hammock, cradling the produce and preventing bruising,” he says. “The tote has the same dimensions of paperboard or plastic crates, is engineered to hold up to 55 pounds and can be column stacked up to 19 high. It also weighs 1.5 pounds, making it at least 50% lighter than the other options, and it has a total supply chain savings of 25% or more.”

Its frame and suspended bag allow more perishables to be shipped. “The frames are bottomless, meaning we can make full use of the vertical space between the layers when stacking. In an application in Costa Rica, they’re able to ship 12% more pineapples in a load because of this.”

Many products, continues Bartal, are packed in ice to keep them fresh. The tote’s design lets melted water to flow through, while the ventilated sleeves promote airflow to prevent rotting. It also makes it easier to control the temperature in shipping, storage and transport and minimizes the amount of energy required to keep products cool.

“The totes can also be put directly on display at a retailer, and because they are clear, it is easy to see the color and quality of the produce stored inside. The sleeves can also be customized with promotional messaging to further engage the shopper,” he adds, noting that the frames and the bags are made of completely recyclable materials for enhanced sustainability.

About the Author

Sara Pearson Specter
Sara Pearson Specter has written articles and supplements for Modern Materials Handling and Material Handling Product News as an Editor at Large since 2001. Specter has worked in the fields of graphic design, advertising, marketing, and public relations for nearly 20 years, with a special emphasis on helping business-to-business industrial and manufacturing companies. She owns her own marketing communications firm, Sara Specter, Marketing Mercenary LLC. Clients include companies in a diverse range of fields, including materials handing equipment, systems and packaging, professional and financial services, regional economic development and higher education. Specter graduated from Centre College in Danville, Ky. with a bachelor’s degree in French and history. She lives in Oregon’s Willamette Valley where she and her husband are in the process of establishing a vineyard and winery.

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