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Packaging system

“The market was just waiting for our eco-banding system”

The people at Project Service & Production LLC are focused on product packaging of the future, even in today’s times of crisis. FreshPlaza spoke to André Vois, Product Key Account Manager, who is responsible for environmentally friendly banding and the Proband V1000 system solution at the group of companies from Kranenburg (NRW).

Mr. Vois, how does the new Progreen packaging concept differ from existing sustainable solutions and what are the most significant advantages for the user?
André Vois: “Our band has a 95 to 97 percent paper content! In 2020 at Fruit Logistica, we were the first with such an environmentally friendly solution, and the reactions at the time showed that the market was just waiting for this eco-banderoling system. With the consequent minimal proportion of 3 to 5 percent plastic, Progreen can be disposed of in the waste paper garbage can, thus returning to the recycling process. This is why we also use the claim ‘Go Green with banding’. By the way, that solution using 97 percent paper content applies to products with a fixed circumference, while those with 95 percent paper content are used when banding products of different sizes.”

André Vois shows the new Progreen banding solution.

On social media, Progreen is touted as an organic solution. Which target group or user sectors do you want to address with this process?
André Vois: “Progreen is of course suitable for all products, whether organic or conventional: packaging becomes more ecological and every contribution should be used to feed as much as possible into the recycling loop! But in fact, our green solution is perfectly suitable for organic products, as they combine the aspects of organic & eco. After all, it’s fair to question why organic products are put into composite packaging – when, for example, we offer a real alternative. At the moment, it certainly helps the manufacturers that the consumer recognizes paper-like composite packaging, which is not allowed to be recycled, as not being harmful at all. That’s where education is needed. And manufacturers who look ahead can use our solution with, for example, a note on the sleeve to inform the consumer that this packaging can be disposed of in the waste paper can! That way, manufacturers can use our product to differentiate themselves from others, and we can offer a truly credible overall environmental solution.”

What is the initial feedback from users so far?
André Vois: The feedback has been very positive, and demand is high – especially from the fruit and vegetable growing sector and from users in other industries such as hygiene products, at this time. The areas of application are diverse, as Progreen is used wherever products need to be held together and all important information such as the EAN code, manufacturer, packer or country of origin needs to be on the product. We can process Progreen bands from 25 to 60 millimeters wide with our Proband V 1000 banding machine, but we can also supply even wider Progreen bands if required.”

According to trade media, packaged goods are increasingly in focus during times of crisis. How do you think food packaging will develop in the short and longer term?
André Vois: “I can’t survey the entire packaging market, but it does seem that perhaps because of Corona, some products are being packaged more sturdily again. However, we as the Project Group continue to see a high demand for our Progreen banding and the matching Proband V1000 banding machine. For the period after the Corona crisis, we expect a further boost and even higher demand. After all, nothing has changed in terms of the megatrends in the packaging industry: The goal is to use less and more ecological packaging. The change in thinking has long since taken place. We at the Project group of companies are proud to make a convincing contribution here.”

For more information:
project Service & Produktion GmbH
André Vois
Im Hammereisen 42
D-47559 Kranenburg
Tel.: +49 2826 9145-0
Fax: +49 2826 9145-11


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 101

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.

For more information:


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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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