A produce sector display revamp is afoot with the leading retailer in the USA, as Walmart follows the grain of consumer demand for sustainable packaging and a more traditional aesthetic in its stores.
While they don’t contain any actual wood, IFCO’s wood grain reusable plastic containers (RPC) tap into a certain neighborhood nostalgia, according to the company’s president Dan Walsh.
“In this particular case, Walmart are very keen on the merchandising benefits, both of the RPC and specifically the appearance of this RPC with the wood grain look,” he told www.freshfruitportal.com.
“They’re looking to freshen up their produce department. They’re refitting their shelving and displays, their promotional areas, and they really want to get this look that is more similar to the neighborhood markets, to try and stress high quality, right price, great value, locally sourced.”
The two companies entered an agreement for the product in October last year, and earlier this month IFCO sent the first batch of the RPCs tp Kings River Packaging of Sanger, California.
The shipment is just part of an anticipated 30 million boxes to be distributed to Walmart suppliers.
“Walmart have over 4,000 stores in the USA and the intention of Walmart and IFCO is that our wood grain RPCs appear in every one of them,” Walsh said.
“Obviously they’re reusable, so when you’re finished with them you don’t throw them into landfill. We’ll collect them, wash them and then re-issue them. There are immense environmental benefits.
“An RPC is simply a better product than corrugate for transporting produce – fresh produce in particular; that produce has better shelf life, they take heat out of the container much more rapidly, they’re better for ripening, they’re ventilated so there’s appropriate air flow through that cools the product, and it’s good for transport.”
In its release, IFCO highlighted these RPCs were designed for wet and dry produce, initially including apples, potatoes, onions and other produce items.
“For what they call the ‘wet wall’ which is primarily soft vegetables, lettuce and so forth, not all of those are planned to be included,” Walsh told www.freshfruitportal.com.
“They’ll continue to be shipped in our black RPCs – the commodities mentioned have been targeted initially, but the likelihood that it will extend into other commodities and into adjacent sectors is one that cannot be discounted.
“But the scale of Walmart is such that you’ve got to get it right in the first instance on a limited number of SKUs with a limited concept, and then we’ll look to expand. Whilst it may seem like a limited amount, the scale of Walmart is such that it’s a significant undertaking.”
Kings River president David Hines said his team were delighted to be the first Walmart supplier to receive the wood grain RPCs.
“These RPCs represent everything we’ve come to know and appreciate about IFCO RPC quality,” Hines said.
“The IFCO Wood Grain RPC features of additional vertical ribbing and enhanced latching are first-rate, and detailed wood grain texture really looks great. We think the retail customer will love it once in store.”