News and trends in the fruit and vegetable sector

Published on 2020-08-26

If we were to analyze how aspects related to logistics have evolved within the fruit and vegetable sector in recent times, especially since we have launched a decade and after the impact of COVID-19 in our society, it is quite clear that 2020 is being a key year, full of strategic changes and new action protocols that seek to alleviate the problems generated by the health alert, in addition to guaranteeing the transfer and consumption of fresh food in perfect condition to the customer.

Taking into account that the fruit and vegetable sector has been considered essential during the pandemic, new control and security measures have been designed, regulations for risk management have been approved and innovative and interesting projects have emerged to maintain a safe and effective logistics chain, at the same time than sustainable from an environmental point of view. Naeco, previously Nortpalet will show you what news the sector brings, how its logistics area is evolving and where it is heading.

New projects and improvements in fruit and vegetable logistics

Ensuring that the transport of fruits and vegetables is done safely, that fresh products reach the consumer healthy and that they are also received in the established time have been some of the great challenges that the industry has had to deal with in the latter months. For this reason, it is necessary to focus efforts on researching and developing systems and protocols that allow meeting the logistical and storage needs of this sector. We point out some solutions:

• Interactive maps for the transport of goods. This system allows you to see in real time at which border points in the European Union there are more traffic jams or delays. In this way we avoid waiting and suffering endless queues.

• Design of green lines. It is about creating specific routes to ensure that agri-food products cross borders without problems, saving time and avoiding possible product losses.

• Research and development of plant gene banks. These are projects that aim to improve the genetics of some vegetables to recover their original characteristics and properties. This solution aims to alleviate the consequences of climate change on fruit and vegetable crops in developing countries and adapt to new conditions in the shortest time and cost possible.

• Documentation digitization. One of the measures taken by the companies is to avoid as much as possible the contact of their staff with non-staff, even restricting access. Digitization has been key in this situation and the delivery of documentation, whenever possible, should be done digitally to save time and avoid contact with physical documents that put the health of workers and merchandise at risk.

• Creation of a certificate of good practices against COVID-19. The company AENOR has developed a new certification for companies to prove that they comply with and apply all the protocols and health safety standards required to minimize the risks of contagion in their facilities.

• Sustainability and promoting the circular economy. There is a growing demand from consumers and users, and greater demand from institutions for companies to be sustainable within their activity and the distribution chain of which they are part, having special importance to favour the economy circular, which reduces the volume of waste by transforming it and converting it into a new resource. For this reason, agri-food companies are betting on increasingly sustainable logistics solutions based on three rules: reduce, reuse, and recycle. 

Trends in packaging and fruit and vegetable packaging systems

Sustainability, once again, is a key factor that companies consider when designing containers or packaging. In fact, manufacturing recyclable packaging that does not pollute and is friendly to the environment are aspects and company policies that consumers value and that, therefore, determine the success or failure of a product. We present some of the current trends:

• Containers that extend the commercial life of vegetables. There is packaging that incorporates within the container natural essential oils and protective films with antioxidant and antimicrobial agents to prevent fruit and vegetables from being lost. This system makes the product last longer in a natural way, preserving all its quality. In this way we manage to reduce waste and be more sustainable.

• Use of compostable and biodegradable materials. The trend to develop compostable packaging is also increasing, that is, packaging that can biodegrade in less time, thanks to its natural agents. A perfect formula to take better care of our planet.

• Recyclable and hygienic plastic packaging. Recyclable and reusable plastic pallets are light and efficient logistics solutions, very suitable for the fruit and vegetable sector, since they are also waterproof, more hygienic and do not require phytosanitary treatment, since plastic, thanks to the nature of its material, complies with the ISPM-15. Undoubtedly, essential conditions to protect the merchandise against parasites and bacteria during collection, storage, and transport.

• Eco-design: plastic packaging designed to improve the retention of merchandise. The fruit and vegetable companies used to shrink the merchandise to guarantee its stability until the destination. Some models of pallets, containers and plastic boxes include special stops, lids or other retention systems that avoid this process.

It is evident that current circumstances have forced agri-food and fruit and vegetable companies to review and change their traditional packaging systems for other more sustainable, hygienic and safe ones, such as those manufactured by Naeco, previously Nortpalet, in order to improve the quality of their logistics chain, to take even more extreme, if possible, its safety protocols and comply with the standards required by the European Union to guarantee the optimal conditions of the product until its destination. And does your company also need to adapt to change? Ask us!