Zippmatic packaging solution for producers and retailers

Packaging of fresh produce is facing ongoing pressure from consumers and retailers, requiring producers to adapt to a wide range of seemingly conflicting demands.

Prepacked produce continues to grow in volume in Australia, mirroring trends in other key markets, while simultaneously, there is increasing concern amongst consumers and supermarkets around the use of plastics in the produce aisles.

Even then, solutions are not as straightforward as simply changing to something else, says Frank Trimboli – account manager, fresh produce, Auspouch.

“A parallel trend moving alongside sustainability is to reduce food waste, driven by customer awareness, high lifecycle costs of producing fruits and vegetables – only for them to be discarded prior to checkout along the supply chain – and the economic cost of reduced yield at the supermarket.”

Mr Trimboli said retailers want to: improve yield by reducing product wastage through the supply chain, maintain or improve logistics outcomes, reduce the opportunity for product tampering, maintain minimum guaranteed weight, eliminate product handling in-store (customers and staff), improve merchandising, and ultimately deliver on Packaging Covenant targets to address goals around recyclability, recycled content and reducing reliance on single use plastics.

Meanwhile, consumers want to see plastic eliminated from produce aisles (messages around good plastic or bad plastic don’t work), they want to be able to inspect the produce they are buying, but they don’t want others to have handled their fruit and vegetables.

“Packaging needs to be robust, and they don’t like to see multiple layers, glues, tapes and sticker closures, which they regard as excessive and unnecessary elements,” Mr Trimboli said. “Consumers want to know their packaging is sustainably sourced.”

Auspouch has supplied packaging into the produce sector for many years and has decades of experience implementing efficient systems-based packaging solutions that create functional packaging that consumers enjoy.

While the problem seems a straightforward one to address, Mr Trimboli said most solutions or strategies only cover a part of the varied concerns. They may be appealing to a produce packer, but not solve retailer issues.

“They may solve retailer issues, but not be easy to implement,” he said. “Consumer demands aren’t driven by packhouse concerns or supermarket efficiencies. Consumers want to see and understand the sustainability proposition, without complex explanation.

“While other markets have similar concerns and challenges, off the shelf solutions don’t necessarily address all the concerns we face in Australia and New Zealand, due to a range of factors like consumer behaviour, retail product choices and differing targets on sustainability.”

As a result of this, Auspouch has partnered with Frutmac of Europe to bring the Zippmatic solution to ANZ producers. Mr Trimboli said the key premises of Zippmatic are:

·      that it is an all-board solution, with clear sustainability advantages

·      It is simple to introduce into any packing facility

·      It is clearly sealed and tamper-evident, without adding glues and stickers that may impact consumer perception to the produce

·      It is self-explanatory for consumers

·      It is robust and can survive mishandling in retail, without damaging fruit and generating food waste. If offers multiple merchandising options.

In bringing the Zippmatic solution to the market in Australia, Mr Trimboli said Auspouch has been able to develop a versatile solution catering for our unique needs, including:

·      Sales by weight in ranges to suit the various target weights of different produce items, in addition to the piece count solution preferred by European markets – on the same platform

·      Versatile punnet sizing to address our logistics and transport sizing as well as the ability to account for produce size and shape variations, granting packers more versatility to sell graded and ungraded produce, and achieve outbound logistics efficiency

·      Ability to offer generic, mainstream and premium product lines on the same platform, through managing presentation of the packaging and merchandising options, without changing packhouse equipment or processes

·      Meeting specific, localised sustainability targets, using local recycled content, and with the locally recyclable end of life options. Certified sustainable material sourcing

·      Supermarket and consumer acceptance.

The Zippmatic system is now available to producers and packhouses following successful local testing, including:

·      Transport and logistics trials have been validated by a major Australian retailer

·      In store stress testing and performance trialling has been passed by a major Australian retailer

·      An extensive market trialling process has been conducted, resulting in very positive consumer feedback and acceptance

Mr Trimboli said because the Zippmatic solution is modular, it can be incorporated by a small change into an existing packing operation or can be extended to enhance efficiency and streamline operations if a packing operation wishes to achieve more.

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