IFCO wins French TV station’s innovation award for midsized companies: Grands Prix BFM Business 2019

written by IFCO SYSTEMS, 11th December 2019, in News

Paris, 11 December 2019: IFCO SYSTEMS, the world’s leading supplier of Reusable Plastic Containers (RPCs) for fresh food, was awarded the Innovation prize at the second annual Grands Prix BFM Business award ceremony. The event, organized by TV station BFM to honor midsized firms, took place yesterday evening in Paris. This accolade marks out the company for its innovation capabilities to serve its customers while contributing to the circular economy.

Credit: Olivier Boucherat - CLAN D'OEIL

Pierre-Olivier Blanchard, Managing Director of IFCO France, participated in the ceremony, which concluded the yearly event co-organized by BFM Business and its banking partner, Banque Palatine. During the course of the year, BFM Business airs five broadcasts called "En Route vers les Grands Prix" (On the Way to the Grands Prix) on its channel. It involves a contest between two winning companies in the same category for each of six categories: Family SMB, Excellence made in France, Green Business, Innovation, International and Jury’s Favorite.

The jury met on 18 November to decide on the ranking, while taking into account the key role that these companies play in France’s economy. Its members were particularly impressed by several aspects of IFCO’s activity, including its technological innovation capabilities dedicated to ecological transition.

Innovations based on over 1100 patent applications

IFCO earmarks a significant budget for R&D, covering the design of its Reusable Plastic Containers (RPCs), its digital solutions and its customer services. Over the last ten years, the group has filed 1,130 patent applications and was also designated in March 2019 as a German "innovation leader" by the F.A.Z. Institute (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung) in cooperation with the IMWF (Institute for Management and Economic Research). These innovations, the hallmark of IFCO’s success since it was founded in 1992, are based on its collaborative product design approach as it works together with its entire ecosystem of customers, business partners and experts.

  • Technological – IFCO’s 84 service centers around the world are equipped with SmartCycle™, the company’s washing and disinfection process that guarantees and optimizes food safety. In France, almost 800,000 IFCO RPCs per day are processed by state-of-the-art industrial equipment. These washing processes are continuously monitored by SmartGuardian™, IFCO’s patented control system.
  • Digital – MyIFCO™ enables customers to access and track their order information in real time. They can use the tool autonomously to manage all of their order, delivery, inventory and collection processes for their IFCO RPCs. The tool is available online as well as via a mobile app running on ordinary smartphones. In addition, the 2D barcodes allow customers to track their IFCO RPCs throughout their lifecycle. This technology may soon enable them to track the RPCs’ contents too.

Understanding customer expectations is a complex process that requires the ability to listen and to innovate continuously. For this reason, IFCO product design is constantly evolving, while always taking into account security and safety for operators as well as a reduction of their environmental footprint.

A strategy of innovation based on ecological transition

Producers of fresh fruit and vegetables rent IFCO RPCs, fill them with produce and send them to the retailers’ distribution hubs. The IFCO products are then collected to be inspected, cleaned and disinfected prior to being put back into circulation. Any defective RPCs are repaired when this is possible; if not, they are completely recycled, made into new RPCs and put back into circulation. The result is over 1.7 billion cycles per year. "Our products are directly aligned with the Feuille de Route de l’Economie Circulaire (FREC, Roadmap for a Circular Economy) promulgated by the French government in 2018," says Pierre-Olivier Blanchard. "This roadmap encourages an increase in reusable packaging and recommends the implementation of a deposit scheme for it. So, intrinsically, IFCO’s business is the very definition of a circular economy."

IFCO’s sharing approach is also more responsible than that of single-use packaging while being available at a comparable price point. As the RPCs can be reused up to 100 times, they contribute to carbon reduction in general and especially to that of IFCO customers. "Our solution changes the approach of packaging produced yesterday that will probably be thrown away tomorrow into packaging that’s reusable, repairable and recyclable," notes Pierre-Olivier Blanchard. This is a crucial aspect for customers, who have also found that using IFCO RPCs enables them to save 50% on point-of-sale costs and 25% on their warehousing costs. In addition, using IFCO products helps them reduce CO2 emissions by up to 60%, solid waste production by 86%, and food waste by 96%.

IFCO’s business model significantly increases supply chain efficiency while playing a key role in the circular economy. This approach has enabled the group to be recognized as a pioneer in a growth-generating segment with unlimited development potential. This was a prerequisite for the jury, which was impressed by IFCO’s capacity for innovation over the last 27 years.

View the 28 September broadcast with Pierre-Olivier Blanchard (in French)

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