Reusable Packaging Profitable for Eroski

RPC case study highlights benefits of reusable packaging for Eroski 

Originally posted in September 2010

The use of RPCs has been a key tool for the Spanish supermarket chain Eroski since it began working with logistic service provider Euro Pool System in 1998. The partnership began with the use of reusable packaging for case-ready meat. Now Eroski also uses the green packaging for bakery products, vegetables, fruit, and fish.

RPC trip volume grew from 250,000 to 55,000,000 per year between 1998 and 2009. All the suppliers of the fresh products mentioned, such as the French company Pom2Sevres (see below), supply their products in the green, reusable packaging.

In addition to growth in the number of packaged products, Euro Pool System provides more and more logistic services. Bartolomé Saro, director of the Spanish branch of Euro Pool System, describes the logistics services concerned: “We operate three Return Centres, where we collect all the leftover packaging from the shops. In addition, our washing installations are integrated into Eroski’s Return Centres. We have also equipped the packaging storage areas at one of the locations with a cooling system. In an emergency, Eroski’s nearby cross-docking centre could use our storage areas.”

Lower Costs

What does this intensive partnership yield Eroski? “The standardisation of the packaging ensures efficient order picking,” answered Saro, currently working on the next step – automatic order picking. “The fact that we operate the three return centres saves Eroski money, labour, space and CO2 emissions. Our reusable packaging has also reduced waste in the supply chain, which has reduced the costs for return logistics. In short, it’s a partnership that benefits the whole supply chain.”

Eroski Facts & Figures

  • Shops 1,825
  • DCs for fresh products 14
  • Return centers 3  Location Madrid Area (m2) 10,000; Location Bilbao Area (m2) 4,100;  Location Barcelona Area (m2) 1,600
  • Turnover 2008 (in millions of €) 9,013
  • Market position 3

Pom2Sevres – “Delivered on time and always clean”

With the idea that working with Euro Pool System’s RPCs saves money and is less polluting than the use of disposable packaging, the Spanish supermarket chain Eroski wants to receive all its fresh products in the Euro Pool system reusables. And this is no problem for apple exporter Pom2Sevres. “We work with these crates to our complete satisfaction.” commented Isabelle Almeida, export manager at Pom2Sevres.

Pom2Sevres from Secondigny – Deux-Sèvres in the Poitou-Charentes region – is a processing centre primarily used for apples. The company was founded by five fruit growers in the area, whose combined properties include about 650 hectares of orchards and yield 40,000 tons of apples. The company sorts the apples and stores them in controlled-atmosphere storage until the moment they go to the customer. Almost half of the apples cross the border, some of these to Spain. The Spanish supermarket chain Eroski is an important customer for the company. As a result, all the apples destined for Eroski go in the green Euro Pool System crates.

“We have been working with this packaging for the deliveries to Eroski since 2007,” Almeida continued. “That’s going great as far as we’re concerned. We’re now using it for a few other customers as well.”

Quality Assurance

In the opinion of Almeida, the deposit system also works well. With almost 190,000 trips per year, that is an important advantage. She did note that it is unfortunate that there is always a large sum outstanding for the required deposit on the crates. “That represents a considerable amount of money,”she said.  Apart from this comment, she is positive about the Euro Pool system method. She says that they always receive the crates right on time. Moreover, they’re clean. “That’s important, in connection with maintaining the quality of our products. If we use dirty crates, there’s a good chance the apples won’t arrive at their destination in good condition. And we can’t allow that!”

Story and stock Euro Pool System photos source: Euro Pool System.

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