Fuel cost offers only some relief to shippers - The Packer

Fuel cost offers only some relief to shippers

06/15/2009 04:33:13 PM
Ashley Bentley

DeWaard said if that happens, he may have to wait an extra day to ship his product, or he may have to pay a little extra.

Corrugate or RPC?

Packing containers have been changing, with a strong push toward reusable plastic containers over the last couple years.

“There are more RPCs,” Frens said. “Although, we had the biggest increase about two years ago, and that has kid of leveled off.”

Byron Center-based Hearty Fresh has started using more RPCs in its packing and shipping, said Talbert Nething, general manager. The problem, he said, is that the containers add weight, and therefore fuel cost, to the trip.

“What’s better, saving money on transportation costs? Or on packing?” Nething said. “It’s an industry debate.”

Nething said the push for RPCs is customer-driven.

“Six months ago, more customers wanted RPCs,” Nething said. “It seems to have died off a bit. Whether the push has died down or whether it’s economical — I don’t have an explanation for it.”

Van Solkema said his company does some RPCs for a few customers that sell to Wal-Mart.

“RPCs are bigger and heavier, and you can fit less carriers on trucks,” Van Solkema said “So what’s the carbon footprint? It’s really six of one, half a dozen of the other.”

RPCs may be a little easier, Van Solkema said, because they don’t have to be closed after they’re packed.

Superior Sales packs in RPC for customers that will take them, but for the rest, pushes as much as possible into a dry box.

The company is testing a dry box on cabbage this year, said Randy Vande Guchte, president. Celery, sweet corn and cabbage tend to be packed in a coated box because they’re too wet for a dry box, he said.

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