USA – Fresh Del Monte’s Reusable Plastic Containers (RPCs) are set to improve the banana shipping industry, potentially reducing waste, carbon emissions, operational costs while preserving the fruit’s health.

Fresh Del Monte introduced these banana RPCs  in collaboration with Arena Packaging on November 7, 2023. 

The new RPCs can hold 40 pounds (18kg) of bananas and allow for 48 boxes per pallet, maintaining the industry standard without compromising fruit quality.

This advancement marks a significant shift from previous attempts that either reduced the number of bananas per pallet or affected the fruit’s condition.

In addition to being reusable, these crates boast a lifecycle of up to 15 years and support a circular economy by reducing single-use packaging. Each crate can be reused approximately five times annually, and if damaged, parts can be replaced and repurposed.

“Our reusable crates promote a circular economy of plastics,” the company spokesperson added. “We have saved over 406.8 tonnes of paper and 3.2 tonnes of plastic since implementing this program.”

The RPCs enhance airflow during transportation, contributing to longer shelf life and healthier-looking bananas. Improved airflow eliminates the need for air-stacking boxes in supermarket back rooms—a common practice with cardboard boxes that often leads to cosmetic damage and increased waste.

“With RPCs, the fruit experiences less handling and arrives in better condition,” said an industry analyst. “This is particularly important for bananas, which are the top fruit in the produce category.”

Since the program’s launch, Fresh Del Monte has introduced nearly 350,000 RPCs to the North American market. The company is now evaluating the use of these 18kg capacity RPCs in Europe and considering their application for other fruits.

“Expanding the use of these crates to other markets and products could further amplify the environmental and economic benefits,” the spokesperson noted. “Our goal is to implement sustainable practices across our entire supply chain.”

For 60 years, single-use cardboard boxes have dominated the shipment of bananas from farms to grocery stores.

These boxes, though recyclable, are not reusable and require intensive labor to transfer the fruit to store shelves.

It is from this need that the two companies, Fresh Del Monte and Arena introduced the reusable plastic crate designed to replace the traditional cardboard box.

“The introduction of these RPCs is a game-changer for the produce industry,” said a Fresh Del Monte representative. “We can now transport bananas in a way that reduces food waste, carbon emissions, and operational costs, while also preserving the fruit’s quality.”

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