Perishables Packing Rental and Pooling Models in Perishables

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

Jon KalinThe 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.


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