Cartonboard Reduces Damage: Study

According to a recent study by Genco Damage Research, MeadWestvaco's Coated Natural Kraft folding cartonboard can net frozen food manufacturers a 44 percent reduction in un'saleables. The study also demonstrated virtually all package damage occurs after the product reaches the supermarket loading dock.

Genco, a contributor to the annual Unsaleables Benchmark Report sponsored by Grocery Manufacturers of America and the Food Marketing In'stitute, is typically retained by food manufacturers to study distribution factors.

The two-phased study compared the effectiveness of CNK cartonboard to solid bleached sulfate (SBS) and other paperboard options used for frozen food cartons. Approximately 75 percent of folding carton packaging in any supermarket frozen food case is SBS. CNK is less than 10 percent despite the two products' being cost-competitive and interchangeable in the manufacturing environment.

In Phase One, Genco tracked 3,500 frozen food cases from manufacturer through distribution and pallet breakdown to delivery of 6,500 units into store inventory, testing environmental temperatures of facilities and trucks as well as package condition. Results indicated that, until the pallets arrived at the supermarket loading dock, there was virtually no damage.

In Phase Two, researchers visited 212 supermarkets, measuring outside temperatures and humidity as well as three locations within each store and in the freezer section closest to target product packages. Once readings were confirmed, researchers assessed the physical condition of more than 21,000 directly comparable units. Packages were photographed and some purchased as examples.

Of the 10,700 packaged in CNK cartonboard, only 166 were damaged'a 1.55 percent damage rate. In comparison, 235 of the 8,488 SBS carton samples were damaged, a 2.77 percent rate; and 59 of the 2,533 competing un'bleached coated kraftboard were damaged, a 2.33 percent rate.

The results substantiated that food manufacturers moving from SBS cartonboard to CNK open the door to a potential 44 percent reduction in the crushing, denting and tearing that produce unsaleables.

In purchasing terms, the board cost, including damage, equates to 8.5 cents per package for CNK vs. 10.8 cents for SBS. That translates into a savings of $22.55 per thousand cartons or $342 per ton.


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