Editor’s Note: The follow article has been authored by Jon Kalin, RPA Immediate Past Chairman (ex officio) and Sales and Marketing Manager, Rehrig Pacific Company
The supply chain for moving produce from field to supermarket has become so efficient and far reaching that consumers take for granted the availability of previously-hard-to-find produce year round in their grocery stores. Moving these highly perishable items long distances with minimum spoilage requires a fast moving and sophisticated supply chain. In order to address these challenges, many companies are using reusable plastic containers (RPCs). And in order to meet their unique seasonal and sanitation demands of the industry, many companies contract with third-party poolers, while others choose to rent RPCs when peak demand requires additional containers.
In closed-loop applications, many companies purchase their reusable containers. They move the containers with their goods from point A to point B, empty the contents, and then return them to point A for re-use, keeping control of the containers and the process throughout the supply chain. However, the long shipping distances and seasonality associated with the produce industry make it better suited to a rental or pooling model. For example, when a carrot grower in Bakersfield, California ships its product to upstate New York, it would be difficult and costly for them to get their individual crates back. In addition, growers need a large amount of RPCs for only limited times, such as during peak harvest periods. Renting or pooling additional packaging during these peak times gives them the quantity they need without having to outlay more capital or store the unused assets during low-volume times.
Even if a company decides to purchase a core amount of RPCs for year-round shipping, it is likely they will use a third-party renter/pooler to provide additional reusables to supplement peak demand, or provide container related services such as cleaning, tracking and/or repair.
Read more at www.reusables.org.