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.’s (NYSE: KR) distribution center in Delaware, Ohio. The milestone container of lettuce represents more than 15 years of growth for RPCs in the US produce industry and further demonstrates Kroger’s commitment to sustainability through its use of reusable shipping crates in its supply chain.
Kroger continues to increase its volume of fresh produce shipped in RPCs. The commodities currently shipped in reusable plastic crates include green onions, radishes, lettuce, grapes, tomatoes, avocados, corn, beans, carrots, cabbage, cauliflower, celery and other commodities used by Kroger this year 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 The Kroger Co., 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.“
Prior to the launch of RPCs in the United States in 1996, most produce was shipped in disposable boxes and crates, and 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.
Fred Heptinstall, President and General Manager of IFCO SYSTEMS US, said: “Kroger is a leader in retail innovation, and that clearly extends to the company’s use of environmentally sustainable tools like RPCs. IFCO is honored to be working with Kroger on its supply chain to achieve the most efficient transport packaging system available and to ensure their shoppers get the highest quality produce.”
As part of the commemoration of the 20 billionth pound, IFCO is holding its inaugural Customer Forum, a conference for growers, retailers and strategic partners at the Wigwam Resort near Phoenix February 13 -15, 2012. Attendees will hear best practices for produce packaging in the areas of post-harvest technology, food safety, and supply chain management from guest speakers including Julie Krivanek, President of Krivanek Consulting; Sheri Normandin, Normandin Consulting; Marita Cantwell, Ph.D., UC Davis; Barry Eisenberg, Ph.D., Vice President of Food Safety, United Fresh Produce Association; and Steve Bocchino, Corporate Vice President, Duda. The meeting will also feature a tour of the Schoeller Arca Systems facility where IFCO RPCs are manufactured and a meeting with Goodyear, AZ Mayor Georgia Lord.