Hays designs head lettuce RPC for Wal-Mart

05/13/2002 12:00:00 AM
Terry Scruton

(May 13) FRESNO, Calif. — It all started with a challenge.

In fall 2001, Bruce Peterson, vice president and general merchandise manager for perishables of Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Bentonville, Ark., issued a challenge to plastic container manufacturers to develop a new container for shipping and displaying head lettuce in Wal-Mart stores.

“Lettuce did not fit existing reusable plastic containers,” said Gary Pickett, vegetable category manager for Wal-Mart. “The issue was the flexibility of the container. Lettuce is not always the same size.”

Jim Vangelos, president and chief executive officer for Hays Container Services, Fresno, said shipping head lettuce in plastic containers had always posed a problem for the industry.

“Aside from bananas, the largest commodity that nobody could pack in plastic successfully was head lettuce,” he said.

LETTUCE WOULDN’T FIT

Vangelos said the main problem for the plastics industry was that when returnable plastic containers were introduced they were used for as many commodities as possible, but with a limited number of sizes.

“The problem was more sizes meant more cost in the system,” he said. “And that made the system less efficient. So we couldn’t come up with a logical container for head lettuce. It wouldn’t fit in the original sizes.”

So the developers at Hays went back to the drawing board. They talked to a number of plastic manufacturers and got input from a number of growers. Hays ended up working with Rehrig Pacific Co., Los Angeles, a company that has produced plastic containers for a variety of uses.

“The engineers at Rehrig looked at the average size of a lettuce head. They said we need a container that looks and acts like corrugated but is actually an RPC,” Vangelos said.

40 CONTAINERS PER PALLET

What they came up with was a plastic container that can hold the normal assortment of sizes of head lettuce while stacking 40 containers per pallet — the same as corrugated.

“Previous containers could only stack 35 per pallet,” Vangelos said.

Hays produced a prototype in January and took it to growers, who offered their input and suggestions.

“Most container companies didn’t get the grower input,” Vangelos said. “We weren’t going to take any chances.”

Pickett said Wal-Mart is testing the new container with a couple of its suppliers. The company also is testing a number of other containers, though Pickett said preliminary results on the Hays container are encouraging.

“It’s not a slam-dunk yet, but we’re optimistic,” he said.

Meanwhile, Hays is making plans to market the container to the rest of the industry.

FEATURES

Features on the container include a curved interior, reduced ventilation, smooth surfaces to minimize friction, adequate drainage and ample space for labeling. The containers are bar coded and ready to use radio frequency identification.

The container is compatible with other containers on the market, including display-ready corrugated packaging. The ability to send mixed loads of corrugated and plastic is going to become an important issue for the industry, Vangelos said.

“Retailers are pushing us to come to an agreement on working together in the industry,” he said.

For more information, call Hays at (559) 253-7390 or visit www.haysonline.com.



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joe gutierrez    
oklahma  |  April, 27, 2013 at 03:48 AM

Hello Gary Pickett I like what you said about helping people here in the USA .Tulsa okla could use the work ,I feel as I was the one that to show your secutery instead of you The plastic try for tomatoes ,that feel I should be the one that should have been the first to try to sell wallmart I can sell cheep to and I a love America , gary if you knew how much work that went in to happy tomatoes and money that yes I out of all people should have met you and I would have loved to work for you . Gary if I was you and you were me how would you feel and what would you have done . Gary Tulsa okla we buy alot from you , and I know bruce peterson is gone ,a good man well gary pickett I would have love to met you , its not easy to bring a new idea to the market . Gary my family been the Tomatoe business for over 70 years , thank you for the time Gary pickett , it would be nice if we could go in business with walmart

joe gutierrez    
Tulsa Okla  |  February, 04, 2014 at 12:25 AM

Hello gary Pickett it looks as the plastic tomato tray has changed to a 3 pack its nice del monte ,smart that its for a 6 by 7 small tomato . Tomatoes Tomatoes Tomatoes ,What a why to make money .did you know when the first plastic tray I had ken Close make for me for a 6 by 6 well we didn't know that it had to breath ,a very costly mistake ,for the condensation ,cost me a lot of inventory and money .but it look good so good that the Tulsa world put me on the front page of there news paper . Before I knew it I had people all over me looking on what I was doing .I thought that ken was going to keep his word ,about this tray that I ask to have made . Ken started talking to the people I was already selling ,it look as if we could get albertsons warehouse for a 5 state .We had all of Tulsa OK ,but Jay alley in Texas somehow started buying from Ken the plastic tray .Well I could not believe it I couldn't do business with ken any more i walk in to the store out side Tulsa and there it was but with a different label .So there I was I had just enough trays for 4 mouths .so at that time there was no other plastic trays because I had ask for the first one to be made .I tried paper,to costly look at glass ,to costly,but very cool ,styrofoam ,well all they had that would hold a 6by6 was a sandwich tray ,but it work. I built the tables went to plastic hot plate and just in time .It look great with The happy Tomatoes label .We sold one Walmart store Admiral and memorial a dream come true just that one store selling from 100 to125 case a week .Then my father died ,he was a better man than me a true produce man . then I lost my manager because they wanted 5000dollars or they were going to walk out so come monday I had not one worker

joe gutierez    
Tulsa okla  |  February, 04, 2014 at 01:05 AM

Happy tomato man ,at this time oh it hurt oh yes it hurt ,so I sold my inventory 4 dollars off all at one time ,I cleaned up ,I needed time to think ,I had just finish the TV adds and people like being in them and they was paid for there time ,a lot of fun in the Tomato suit with other talented people and the were on TV for 6 months . Gary I know that you gave me a vender number and not very mini people will get one and there are a lot of good people at Walmart , but did find a better way to ripen the Tomatoes with out the ethelgen that is used to ripen Tomatoes . Gary Arkansas its has some great people like travis at twin city ,and Walmart but I will always feel that are sells was because of all things was the HappyTomatoes label plus they way we ripened them Gary thanks for the vender number and I hope something good will come from this ,JOE R G ,Happy Tomatoe Man

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