Fresh Del Monte Produce Inc., a producer, marketer and distributor of fresh fruits and vegetables based in Miami, Florida, is partnering with Arena Packaging to introduce reusable plastic containers for bananas.
The invention aims to transform industry standards for the leading fruit in fresh produce, while reducing food waste, carbon emissions, operational costs and preserving the fruit’s health. The reusable plastic containers arrived last month at retail stores in South Texas.
With the introduction of RPCs, banana shipments can have improved airflow and extended shelf life. RPCs are not only reusable but also trackable, with a life cycle of up to 15 years. Each container will be reused about five times a year and, if damaged, individual parts can be collected, replaced and repurposed.
“Making produce more sustainable for consumers, from the farms to the shelves, has always been a top priority for Fresh Del Monte,” said Hans Sauter, Fresh Del Monte’s chief sustainability officer and SVP of research and development. “By emphasizing the reuse of packaging materials, we aim to reduce our environmental footprint, while promoting a circular economy of plastics.
“After years of collaborative work, this groundbreaking RPC design not only reduces greenhouse gas emissions but addresses fruit quality and pallet shipping density ensuring sustainable impact at every level of our supply chain. Alliances such as this one serve as another example of how we’re always seeking ways to improve our operations with business partnerships that strive to achieve a more sustainable future.”
For the past 60 years, bananas have been shipped in single-use cardboard boxes that hold up to 40 pounds per box. The boxes are transported to grocery stores, where bananas are air-stacked in the back room, a labor-intensive manual process that takes between 20 to 40 minutes to complete.
Although cardboard is recyclable, developing options where packaging is reused is a first step in fighting climate change. Prior to that, bananas were shipped by the stalk hanging from hooks in cargo ships, which led to the bananas arriving in poor condition.
The introduction of reusable plastic containers has also resulted in healthier-looking fruit out on shelves, with less handling throughout the supply chain.
“Our collaboration with Fresh Del Monte Produce is set to redefine the entire process of packing, shipping, ripening, storing and merchandising bananas,” said Tony Arena, founder and CEO of Arena Packaging. “This marks a significant milestone in our shared mission to establish a more sustainable and circular packaging system.
“Arena Packaging’s innovative banana reusable plastic containers are the result of years of dedicated design and validation supported by industry veteran Jim Vangelos, Fresh Del Monte’s Sales VP Mike Naftel and Senior Director of Global Packaging Christian Salnars. The Arena Banana RPC reduces the carbon footprint by 90 percent over a traditional corrugated banana carton.”
Read more produce news from The Shelby Report.