A number of shippers of Mexican grapes also offer reusable plastic containers.
That includes Stevco, where Lane said RPCs can be cheaper than regular containers, and damage is minimal. However, because RPCs weigh more than traditional containers, freight costs can go up.
Logistics always is an issue in Mexico, Lane said, so keeping track of RPCs can be a challenge. However, demand for the containers continues to rise because many buyers see them as an environmentally friendly container that reduces waste.
Fresh Farms ships in RPCs for certain clients without major inconvenience, Havel said.
“It’s just a logistical thing,” he said, “that means getting the orders in advance and making sure we have the right materials.”
Use of RPCs is customer-driven at Pacific Trellis, Winkelmann said.
The company has “interest in and capacity for doing them,” he said, but because of the added cost, the company uses them only for confirmed retail programs.
“When you get into a new type of packaging for specific customers, you add another set of material requirements to your inventory management,” he said, adding, “RPCs are just another item in the mix that you have to manage.”
RPCs can be more costly than traditional containers, he said, but they’re generally worth it.