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Understanding the issue of pack integrity for food/beverage

Supplier News
article image Integrity testing can help avoid product damage during transit

Packaging specialist Nelson Joyce & Co underlines the importance of packaging integrity in the food and beverage segment with large supermarket and grocery chains forcing liabilities on suppliers who take shortcuts.

The days of careless wrapping of packaged food and drink bound for retail are all but over as packaging integrity becomes a key factor for product placed on shelves, with even the tiniest blemish or dent during transit rendering an item ‘un-sellable’, and the burden instantly shifted back by powerful retailers to the supplier.

According to Managing Director Mr Nelson Joyce, the likes of Coles, Woolworths and many powerful retail giants have very strict rejection criteria to protect their own quality standards and aesthetics, so suppliers need to be wary of the situation. Bottled water and drinks are an excellent case in point where rejection is frequent. With strong competition for a place on the shelf of retail giants, the retailers themselves have to protect their own visual standards. 

Mr Joyce says that they are regularly consulted by suppliers, whose palletised goods have suffered some sort of change before or during shipment, resulting in penalties.

For instance, if a mineral water supplier’s pallet moved under its shrink wrap during transport and bottles were bumped causing the tops and necks to be bent inwards, the retailer will not place them on the shelves; it will not only reject the pallet, but also may charge for the space on the shelves reserved for it.

While it may sound like rough justice, retailers run operations based on margins and quantity sales and will not have time to replace that product with anything else, so the supplier suffers the penalty, which is likely to be written into the agreement.

Various emerging packaging technologies can protect against such incidents. For instance, Nelson Joyce advises suppliers to avoid cheap stretch wrap, and use versatile and cost-identifiable machines instead of slow, wasteful and substandard manual wrapping.

The supplier is also advised to have an evaluation of a packaging line done to identify the many shortfalls and provide solutions as to how they can professionalise, increase quality and speed up their own packaging and delivery systems.

Retail-ready packaging often is ignored for the multi-faceted approach it needs; for instance, fill form and seal/rewind films and machines, barrier products, carton liners, separation sheets, crate liners, carcass covers and all other manner of products are affordable and can make the ultimate difference in maintaining a profitable supply line free of mishaps, says Mr Joyce.

Mr Joyce uses the bottled water sector as a good case study on this issue, explaining that a place that packs bottled water needs to ensure its product is presented to customers in a uniform way.

The moment a single item moves out of alignment during transit, it can pop out and cause damage to more of the shipment. From warehouse to secondary handlers and finally to retailers, restaurants and cafes, it is multi-handled and suppliers need to protect the integrity and clarity of each pack, making sure no deformation takes place. Once plastic bottle necks are turned inwards, they are harder to stock properly.

Suppliers could also re-evaluate their heat-induced wrapping systems to make an enormous difference.

Several food and beverage handling plants have made such straightforward analysis of the entire supply procedure, and been able to increase the speed and efficiency by 30%, as well as protect the packaging integrity.

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