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phs Teacrate Helps Pass the Fresh Test

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With so much choice on the supermarket shelves, discerning customers are increasingly looking for better. And where vegetables and fresh produce are concerned, that means improved quality, fresher products and considerate packaging.

Buyers vote with their hard-earned cash so, as farmers and suppliers, if you don’t provide products that are up to these high standards, your bottom line will suffer. Increased pressure to reduce single-use and disposable packaging also means that the shelf life is reduced and time pressures to get products to consumers are increased. However, if you can get the product, quality and packaging right and you can command premium prices.

But how can you get your fruit and vegetables from field to store or restaurant quickly and in good condition, without sacrificing your profits? Returnable Transit Packaging (RTP) crates are a great way to go.

Fantastic for field, super for shelf

Constructed from hardwearing polypropylene, RTP crates and pallets provide both the security and reliability you need for the reassurance that your fresh produce is safe from damage during harvest, storage or transit. phs Teacrate plastic crates are both sturdy and easy to handle, making them convenient to stack and store, both on the farm as well as at point of sale. Plastic handles and bale arms on crates and trays provide a comfortable grip, while pallets are of standard dimensions for use with fork lift trucks. 

Clever design means that RTP can be stacked more safely than cardboard or wooden containers and the crates, trays and pallet boxes can be nested or folded when empty, providing economy of space when room is tight.

RTP options include solid or ventilated walls and a range of sizes as well as skates for easy movement around site, depending on manual or machine lifting. Ventilation is particularly important to maintain freshness, while the rigid construction prevents the packaging from getting soggy when in chilled or frozen storage, as is often the case with cardboard. In the retail environment, crates and trays can simply be placed straight in supermarket aisles, with the minimum of display effort required – a huge saving on manhours for any fresh produce seller.

There when you need it

Food retailers and restaurateurs rely on a steady flow of produce to keep their businesses ticking over, with many focussing on seasonal crops in response to the demand for locally produced foodstuffs. As a successful supplier, you need to be able to, quite literally, make hay while the sun shines and harvest seasonal vegetables quickly and efficiently to take advantage of markets.

This means adopting techniques that will allow you to get the most out of natural growing seasons and, depending on the crop, setting up your sites for efficient planting, cultivating and hand picking or mechanical harvesting. This includes water supplies, where needed, collection and storage facilities and the manpower or machinery to harvest. The more organised you are, the smoother the supply chain can be.

Casual labour and/or machinery hire can satisfy some of your requirements while RTP rental from a reliable supplier such as phs Teacrate, provides the flexibility you need for a source of crates, trays and pallets when (and only when) you need them. The dynamic crate pool allows you to request containers with next day delivery as standard. Keep them for as long as you need, returning only when the season is over or the crates require washing at one of our dedicated, state-of-the-art washing facilities.

In fact, the smooth surface of plastic RTP makes it easy to clean and disinfect, something that can’t be done with wooden or cardboard containers. phs Teacrate can provide crates that are hygienically washed to your required standard, including reports on bacterial swab and Reflective Light Units (RLU) testing.

Fresh is best

As a fresh food supplier, you won’t be surprised to hear that of those who have shopped for groceries online, 55% are not interested in doing so again because they want to inspect the products first hand for quality before buying. This is just one reason why growers and farmers must take extra care when harvesting and storing their crops, in order to maintain quality and therefore command the best price possible. Using stackable plastic containers reduces the risk of damage by overloading or squashing, while the smooth surface of the plastic reduces bruising and abrasion, ensuring that your customers always see your crop at its best.

Studies support the fact that the substitution of cardboard, baskets and sacks with plastic crates can result in the reduction of post-harvest vegetable damage by as much as 83%.

Plastic crates, trays and pallets also allow the produce season to be extended a little by providing the most suitable environment for cold storage, with ventilation where needed. There’s no risk of packaging getting soggy and no worry of wooden or carboard fibres contaminating the produce. The fact that RTP containers can also be washed to food hygiene standards means that there is also no risk of contamination from the containers themselves.

Thanks to the waterproof properties of the containers, plastic RTP also lends itself well to hydrocooling, air cooling or even contact icing, allowing the harvested crop to have contact with water without compromising the integrity of the packaging. Produce really can go straight from field, to cooling to storage and then to shelf in the same container.

However you intend to harvest, store, cool or transport your produce, plastic crates, trays and pallets are a safe bet, offering protection against physical and biological risks, not to mention the convenience of easy handling and a real ability to take your produce from field to shelf in one container.

If you haven’t already made the change to RTP, now could be the time. Simply weigh up the costs against the benefits and you’ll know you need to make a change. With weather predictions, price negotiations, demand forecasting and the sourcing of labour, vegetable growers and farmers have enough to worry about. phs Teacrate’s RTP means that packing and storage will be one thing ticked off your list. Get in touch now to see how we can help your site work more efficiently and your supply chain run smoother.

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