The journey to transform the banana supply chain
Thanks to their versatility, affordability and health benefits, bananas remain one of the most popular and nutritious snacks worldwide. The banana supply chain, however, is not always viewed in the same favorable light. Especially when it comes to sustainability.
"Our goal at IFCO is to make the fresh grocery supply chain sustainable for every type of fruit and vegetable, as well as for meat, fish, eggs and baked goods. Naturally, this ambitious target covers bananas, too," explains Michael Meierhöfer, Vice President Sales, New Market Verticals at IFCO, and the company’s resident expert on the banana supply chain.
"Understanding the complex and interconnected networks, systems and activities behind every banana in the stores is key to making the banana supply chain sustainable," he adds
When was the first reusable banana crate launched?
"Fresh produce transportation strategies are key areas in which IFCO excels," explains Meierhöfer. Roughly 30 years of experience in designing, producing and pooling Reusable Packaging Containers (RPCs) is packed inside IFCO innovations. The first IFCO RPC was developed in the early 1990s.
And the first IFCO reusable banana crate, the Caja Oro, along with a customized version of the IFCO SmartCycle™ closed loop pooling system specifically for the unique challenges of the global banana trade, was launched in the US over 15 years ago. Meierhöfer was the person responsible for its launch across Europe."Our experience and success lie in increasing food safety while reducing food and solid waste, energy use and water consumption. All of these goals have priority when you are aiming for a sustainable supply chain, whatever the produce," adds Meierhöfer.
Learnings from the first generation of banana RPCs, the Caja Oro, have been plugged into the next generation of reusable crates: the Banana Lift Lock.