Packaging and Pallets: Working Together - Kamps Pallets

Packaging and Pallets: Working Together

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While many Americans have heard that their food has traveled, on average, 1,500 miles from the farm to their plate, most people have no idea what this really means, nutritionally or logistically. How can meat and produce travel so far and still be fresh and edible?

pallet It’s because of pallets, and some other technological innovation: genetic, chemical, computer, and mechanical all combine to make sure food will arrive at the store and customers will want to buy it.

While the invention of the pallet changed shipping – and warehousing and purchasing – forever, pallets mainly allow for the safe and simple transport of a wide variety of goods. They do nothing to keep produce fresh. What’s more, because of the shape of pallets, products and packaging have become far more uniform, which means that storage has also become more uniform. And this means that it’s harder to manage produce freshness because uniform boxes unintentionally hide spoiling produce.

The newest innovation researchers have designed to deal with this problem is the smart label. These labels change color over time from yellow to purple with yellow indicating freshness. When they are affixed to packages, crates, or pallets, it is easy for handlers to determine which packages need to be shipped soonest and which can wait until later. Currently between 30 and 50 percent of food produced worldwide will never make to the consumer because between picking and packaging, shipping and unloading, it becomes unappealing or inedible. In a world faced with hunger and dwindling land and water resources, making shipping more efficient and transparent is a worthy goal.

Another recent invention is the Bump Mark label developed by Solveiga Pakštaitė. Instead of counting down freshness visually, it does so in a tactile way. Bump Mark labels are filled with gelatin, an animal based product that decays in a similar way to meat. Smooth bump labels indicate that all is well, whereas bumpy ones tell handlers that the gelatin is liquifying – going bad – and likely so are the contents of the boxes.

Clearly, these types of labels have implications for more than just profit. Companies that can ensure that what they sell will be safe to eat build trust with their consumers and also avoid either lawsuits or recall problems. A more transparent and efficient supply chain benefits everyone, not just those in the retail, packaging, and logistics fields.

 

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