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New LC Packaging head office centre of knowledge and attractive workplace in one

In September LC Packaging opened its new, sustainable, state-of-the-art head office and warehouse at the Logistiekpark A12 in Waddinxveen. A grand opening was not possible due to the Corona situation, but has been able to take a look at the new building of the family business that has been active in the packaging industry for generations.

Boudewijn van Fraassen and Nick Jansen

The great-grandfather of CEO Lucas Lammers started the company in 1923, with the sole activities of purchasing, reconditioning and distribution of (second-hand) jute bags. The company is now specialized in FIBCs (big bags), net bags, cardboard, paper, jute and WPP packaging for the fruit and vegetable sector and industry.

The new building is 16 meters high and has a total area of ​​12,500 m2 of warehouse and 3,000 m2 of office space. The warehouse in phase 1 has a capacity of 29,000 fully loaded pallet places with an additional hall for printing jute and plastic bags. In phase 2, 5,000 m2 of warehouse will be added. Sustainability and well-being were keywords during the construction, according to Nick Jansen (Director Europe). For example, there are 3,032 solar panels on the roof, enough to provide 386 households with energy for a year, and rainwater is collected and used by growers in the area.

“With the BREEAM Outstanding score, we are one of the most sustainable buildings in the Netherlands, but above all we want it to be a pleasant place to meet. By working together you promote cooperation between the different departments, both within the Netherlands and abroad, purchasing and sales, marketing and sustainability. Due to the current Corona measures, some things can’t be helped at the moment, but we believe in coming together at the office. We do everything we can to ensure that colleagues work together in the most pleasant way in a fantastic workplace that is fully equipped and we want to be a knowledge center for each other and our customers. Transparency is paramount here, both to our suppliers and customers. We are happy to include them both in the process and also believe that this is the future.”

The new building is therefore fully equipped with a real auditorium, a gym where colleagues can exercise under the supervision of a personal trainer, a spacious canteen where a fresh lunch is provided on several days, standing desks, consultation rooms and spaciously arranged desks with videophone. About 100 people work at the head office in Waddinxveen. Downstairs, the fifty colleagues of LC Netherlands are active, worth around about 50 million of the total 200 million turnover, whilst working on the top floor are the colleagues of LC International, the umbrella organisation that oversees the entire supply chain of the LC Packaging Group and maintains contact with all LC Packaging affiliates in Africa, Asia and Europe.

Anyone who thinks it will stop here is wrong, because LC Packaging has its own offices in Belgium, France, Spain, Portugal, Germany, Hungary, Romania, England, Scotland, Ireland, Sweden, South and West Africa. “And these are not sales offices with two people, but all decent offices with their own storage. Thanks to our SAP system we have a real-time view of the stock and we see all purchase and sales orders of the entire group,” says Boudewijn van Fraassen, director of Agricultural Packaging.

“With offices, production facilities and warehouses in 16 countries in Europe, Africa and Asia with more than 1,700 employees, we are always close by and there is always a location nearby! Thanks to our storage capacity of over 70,000 m² and an extensive distribution network, we can guarantee our deliveries, even during seasonal peaks and for short-term deliveries,” continues Boudewijn. With three offices in the United Kingdom and two offices in Ireland, Brexit has not caused major problems for the packaging supplier.

LC Packaging prefers to grow in depth rather than in width. “We would like to keep the focus. We are already active in a considerable number of sectors and that requires a gigantic stock and storage. For example, we sometimes have twice the turnover of a year on belt bales. But should an onion sorter suddenly demand from Central America or Asia, we can provide this. We therefore look for our growth mainly within the existing markets. We find it more important to be a top-3 player anyway and prefer to be the market leader in the markets in which we operate than do it as a little bit on the side.”

The international office network came at the right time last Corona year. “The demand for our packaging rose very fast, but in the supply we, like everyone else, faced major challenges. We drove like crazy between the different branches to meet the demand of our customers. It has been quite stressful getting that done, but we succeeded, partly because we keep such an almost irresponsibly high stock for our customers,” says Nick Jansen. “At the same time, the shortages do pose challenges. For example, the price of polypropylene (PP) granulate has increased by 40% in one month. I have never experienced that in the 25 years that I have been working for LC Packaging. The scarcity of jute and paper is alarming. It means you have to talk to your customers about the current contracts, because the customer has to get their packaging regardless.”

“What does help in this is that we often work on the basis of long-term partnerships. Ten years ago we were much more active on a day-trade basis. Now we can guarantee many more long-term products to our partners. Thanks to the combination of our own factories and the semi-in-house production with partners, some of whom we have been working with for thirty years, we can guarantee quality and availability,” says Boudewijn.

He does not see producers from the Far East who try to set foot in Europe themselves as competition. “That often seems like a good idea, but experience shows that these companies can never last in the long term. We believe that quality is much more than just the strength of our packaging. It’s about the total picture. If you have nothing more than your packaging to offer, you won’t make it. ”

With jute packaging, LC Packaging already has a textbook example of compostable packaging, according to Nick. The company does not focus on the smaller, jute consumer packaging, which is on the rise, mainly elsewhere in Europe, because it wants to keep its focus on customers in the food & agri and industry.

Sustainability is front of mind at the packaging company. “For example, we have an alliance with Veolia to limit waste from flexible packaging worldwide. Recycled polypropylene (tPP) is also a hot item. This is already being tested by British customers. We are working hard on this and it is quite a challenge to achieve 30% rPP in a packaging of say 100 grams, but we are happy to take on that challenge,” Nick concludes.

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Japanese tomato harvest robot in action in Tomatoworld

A new tomato harvesting robot has recently been driving through the paths of Tomatoworld. It is the latest product of inaho Europe, a subsidiary of the Japanese company inaho.  “The purpose of launching the demonstration at Tomatoworld is to allow more interested people to see the robot in operation,” says Takahito Shimizo, managing director of inaho Europe. “We want to demonstrate the robot and receive more feedback from growers, in order to develop and increase the value of the robot.”

Snack tomato robot
Tomatoworld is a horticultural information and education center in Westland, Netherlands. In the greenhouse, snack tomatoes are grown.

Takahito Shimizo shows how the robot is a fully automatic harvesting device for snack tomatoes. “The AI algorithm identifies the ripe fruits by color and size and then harvests the ripe snack tomatoes.”

inaho has already conducted field trials with growers in Japan and demonstrated a reduction in human working hours of around 16% by setting up a workflow in which robots harvest during the nighttime before humans do.

Meanwhile, inaho also found that there are differences between Japanese and Dutch growers in terms of harvest and post-harvest operations. “For example, the standards for the picking appropriate color of the fruits and the frequency of harvesting are different,” says Takahito.

In order to develop a solution that is more suitable for Dutch growers, inaho is keen to get a better understanding of the Dutch growers’ practices and receive more operational feedback from them. In this context, inaho is also actively seeking a grower partner who would be able to carry out a field trial of the harvesting robot.

Growers welcome
The demonstration in Tomatoworld also contributes to this: growers are invited to come and see and assess the robot. “We are happy to discuss details about the robot, such as its functions and expected future updates. We can also provide simulations to calculate the labor and cost savings, based on the results of the trials in Japan,” Takahito says.

It is not the Japanese company’s first robot. inaho already launched an AI-equipped asparagus harvesting robot (video) in 2019. They are also working on a robot that can phenotype plants. inaho operates according to the Robot-as-a-Service (RaaS) business model – paying per harvested product.



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BelOrta launches 100% recycled & recyclable strawberry punnet

Starting this week, the first Belgian strawberries from BelOrta will be packed in new packaging. These are Tray2Tray punnets made from recycled raw materials that are still 100% recyclable. Consumers can recognize these punnets by a special logo.

Starting this week, the first Belgian strawberries from BelOrta will be packed in new packaging. These are Tray2Tray punnets made from recycled raw materials that are still 100% recyclable. Consumers can recognize these punnets by a special logo.
BelOrta launches 100% recycled & recyclable strawberry punnet 89

Together with Fost Plus and Infia, BelOrta says it is taking ‘the next step in increasingly sustainable production and distribution’. “This step contributes to a circular economy. Not unimportant, because recent figures show that we are eating more and more home-grown strawberries,” according to the cooperative. 

Closed cycle

With the strawberry punnets, no empty strawberry tray has to end up on the waste mountain from now on, because every packaging can be processed and reused as raw material for new packaging.

Jo Lambrecht, Sales & Marketing Manager at BelOrta: “With this Tray2Tray concept, in which new punnets are made from used packaging, we contribute to a circular economy. We have been working with so-called ‘r-PET’ as a raw material for 4 years, recycled from water and soft drinks bottles and other PET packaging that consumers collect. The New Blue Bag has recently been introduced to us for the collection of all plastic packaging waste. 

By the way, Belgians are champions in sorting and collecting waste, which makes a difference to a healthier and more pleasant living environment. Thanks to new techniques, developed under the impulse of Fost Plus, we can now also sort these r-PET punnets (cf. the new blue bag) and recycle them into flakes, after which they are used again as raw material for the production of new packaging, such as for our strawberries and berries. This completes the cycle.”

450 tons less CO2 emissions per year

But what about ‘the most sustainable packaging is no packaging’? Lambrecht: “That is indeed true for many products, often including food. We try to avoid or reduce the use of packaging wherever possible. But for sensitive and perishable products, well-chosen packaging is crucial in the fight against food waste. Various tests, including with strawberries and berries, have taught us that well thought-out packaging makes all the difference. Wasting less food reduces our ecological footprint. Moreover, r-PET as a raw material has a low ecological footprint compared to many other materials.”

For BelOrta, the replacement of PET by r-PET means a reduction of 450 tons of CO2 emissions per year. 

Belgians eat an average of 1.94 kg of strawberries per year

More than 9,000 tons of strawberries were sold in 2020 via BelOrta. With over 100 different growers, the acreage of strawberries at BelOrta is about 300 hectares, an increase of 4% compared to the previous year.

Recent figures from market research agency GfK also show that the average Belgian ate 1.94 kg of strawberries in 2020. That is a growth of more than 12% compared to the previous year. Elsanta, Portola, Elegance, Malling Centenary, Sonata and Sonsation are the main varieties at BelOrta.

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Packaging system

Sustainable packaging company adds cardboard tray to its portfolio

Cascades, a North America and European based packaging company, is launching the first thermoformed cardboard tray. The product is made from 100 percent recycled and recyclable cardboard and has a recyclable water-based barrier coating which prevents moisture. “The cardboard tray makes a true alternative to plastic and foam trays,” says Jacques Bissonnette with Cascades’ Canada office. “Sustainable packaging is getting more important, enforced by retail regulations as well as consumer demand,” he added.

“In November of last year, we did a successful soft launch in Canada with the cardboard tray for mini cucumber. Just this month, a US customer started using the trays for sweet corn.” The product is available in a range of different sizes from 8 2/16 inches length, 8 11/16 inches wide to 1 11/16 inches height. However, Cascades also offers tailormade solutions. The tray is suitable for a wide range of fruits and vegetables, from Brussels sprouts to bell peppers, green beans, and much more. “The package will stand out even more if it is combined with a compostable top seal film, making it a fully sustainable solution,” Bissonnette added.

Telling the story
“We think it’s really important to tell the story how sustainable packaging can help to reduce the environmental footprint and achieve the retailer’s sustainability goals.” To support the story, Cascades has developed an LCA (Life Cycle Assessment) for all its product lines.

“This means we can tell the client exactly the amount of environmental footprint reduction they will be able to achieve with one of our sustainable solutions compared to the material they are using currently.” A lot of the current plastic packaging as well as foam packaging can be replaced by this cardboard solution and has proven to offer equivalent shelf life to plastic”. The new cardboard tray works with existing machinery and tooling for plastic trays, meaning that no extra investment is required for producers or packers looking to make the switch to cardboard.”

Cascades also invested in research on the consumer side. “It’s not only the demand for sustainability that has grown but also the willingness among consumers to put their money where their mouth is,” said Bissonnette. Most consumers are willing to pay a bit more for produce that is sustainably packaged. Also, better labeling on the packaging would encourage consumers to buy more green, sustainable packaging. “It is still a bit more expensive but both producers and retailers should not be afraid to raise their prices a bit. We are not talking about full dollars but just a few cents, ” Bissonnette noted.

For more information:
Jacques Bissonnette
Cascades Specialty Products Group
Tel:+ 1 514-378-0332

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