Georgia-Pacific Packaging developed these humidity-resistant boxes specifically to meet the needs of Wawona Packing Co.
Georgia-Pacific Packaging developed these humidity-resistant boxes specifically to meet the needs of Wawona Packing Co.

With 5 million boxes of stone fruit shipping annually, it was no small matter when Wawona Packing Co. needed a better box.

Conditioning and transportation of Wawona’s products, particularly peaches, was taking its toll on the traditional cartons the Cutler, Calif., company had been using. Brent Smittcamp, Wawona president, said his natural instinct was to ask his box supplier, Georgia Pacific Packaging LLC, Atlanta.

Wawona has used Georgia-Pacific boxes for more than 13 years, Smittcamp said, adding he has never had a quality issue with any pack style the company provided. When Smittcamp asked them to create a humidity-resistant corrugated box that maintained the light-weight benefits of corrugated packaging, he knew he was asking the people at Georgia-Pacific to think outside the box.

“We have a mechanical packaging team that went to work and modified our designs to meet their needs,” said Georgia-Pacific sales rep Joe Antonino.

One of the stickiest questions involved in developing the new boxes involved the glue, which had to be specially formulated to withstand cold as well as humid conditions, Antonino said. Issues about labels and printing were a bit easier to address, partly because Georgia-Pacific has its own paper mills.

The end product met Wawona’s needs, but Georgia-Pacific didn’t stop there.

“The paper technologies for sustainability and enhanced performance are ongoing developments,” Antonino said. “We (upgraded) our Madera (Calif.) plant’s printing capabilities in 2006 and that has been a very important factor in satisfying Wawona’s high-quality print/graphic needs.”

Georgia-Pacific customizes boxes as needed for various promotions, using six colors for eye-catching labeling and a special mix of varnish designed to stand up to humid, cold conditions. Antonino said the varnish keeps moisture out, practically eliminating the possibility of mold or other bacterial growth.

“We have had tremendous response with all of our retail partners,” Smittcamp said. “We run an annual promotion of Faye Elberta peaches in a specially designed, high-graphic box. Our retail partners actually merchandise and sell the peaches by the box.”