IFCO has announced the shipment of the 20 billionth pound of produce in an IFCO reusable plastic container (RPC) was delivered to The Kroger Co distribution center in Delaware, OH.
The milestone container of lettuce represents more than 15 years of growth for RPCs in the US produce industry and demonstrates Kroger's commitment to sustainability through its use of reusable shipping containers in its supply chain.
Kroger continues to increase its volume of fresh produce shipped in RPCs. Commodities currently shipped in RPCs include green onions, radishes, lettuce, grapes, tomatoes, avocados, corn, beans, carrots, cabbage, cauliflower, and celery. These and other commodities used by Kroger in 2012 will eliminate more than 45 million pounds of waxed and corrugated boxes that would otherwise require disposal.
Phil Davis, senior perishables supply chain manager for Kroger, said: "What started as a sustainable solution to ensure the highest quality of fruits and vegetables for our customers has grown into an impactful way for Kroger to reduce waste and improve the efficiency of our produce supply chain. IFCO is a great partner in helping Kroger and our suppliers meet our sustainability commitments."
Before the launch of RPCs in the United States in 1996, most produce was shipped in disposable boxes and crates. It was often damaged because the packaging wasn't strong enough to protect the products during transit. RPCs improve product quality, increase productivity, and are environment-friendly.
As part of the milestone commemoration, IFCO conducted its inaugural Customer Forum, a conference for growers, retailers, and strategic partners at the Wigwam Resort near Phoenix, AZ.
Attendees heard about best practices for produce packaging in post-harvest technology, food safety, and supply chain management. Guest speakers included: Julie Krivanek, president of Krivanek Consulting; Sheri Normandin, Normandin Consulting; Marita Cantwell, UC Davis; Barry Eisenberg, vice-president of food safety, United Fresh Produce Association; and Steve Bocchino, corporate vice-president, Duda. Participants had the chance to tour the Schoeller Arca Systems facility where IFCO RPCs are manufactured and to meet with Goodyear AZ Mayor Georgia Lord.