Volume 8 Part 1 Article 53: Package Design and Production

Volume 8 Part 1 Article 53
Year 1972
Title: Package Design and Production
Author: H.C. Johnson


It gives me considerable pleasure to be present here today – firstly in having been asked to join this eminent panel and secondly because it would suggest acceptance on the part of the mushroom industry of corrugated fibreboard as a potential solution to its packaging problems. Long runs are the bread and butter of the packaging industry and the mushroom has been regarded with covetous eyes by corrugated case manufacturers for many years and much time and money has been expended on trying to win over growers to our product in view of the standardized nature of your packaging. I have been engaged in selling packaging to the horticultural industry for nearly a quarter of a century and to my knowledge no container has withstood the pressures of competition as has the metal-handled mushroom basket in either veneer or cardboard form. We have seen the Guernsey boat, the Jersey potato barrel, returnable empties and other hitherto well-established packs disappear into oblivion but the chip has survived despite its many apparent deficiencies. It tapers and therefore sacrifices some of its stacking potential; it isn’t rectangular and doesn’t lend itself to bonded stacking or palletization; and it has been commented that it lacks presentation value. You can appreciate that to case manufacturers who pack all the British apples, pears, tomatoes, lettuce, pot plants – even imported bananas – this causes some frustration.

Corrugated cases have, of course, been used for some years now for the bulk shipment of mushrooms to processors and spawn supplies to growers and recently there has been a move towards pre-packing which has resulted in increasing tray business but the surface of the potential is still only being scratched. We are told that resistance to the absorption of respiration from what is a product with a high water content can be harmful and moisture resistant surfaces are supposed to have this effect, whilst ability to absorb moisture weakens and stains the container. Conversely, by design expertise, it is possible to provide trays from corrugated board that will stack well above the height achieved by baskets. Trays save storage space but have to be erected whereas the basket, whilst space consuming, comes ready for use. These are some of the relative claims and while there is not much between the respective costs per lb of baskets and trays, the real basic problem is the harvesting method. The basket lends itself to current picking conditions, and the high humidity existing in the houses discourages the use of untreated corrugated containers, as does the tendency to hold over supplies for extended periods in cooling rooms. Whilst it might be assumed from all this that the basket is still the most satisfactory pack and is unlikely to be superseded in the immediate future, recent press statements suggest that the chip is not satisfactory for stacking, as a result of which quality suffers.

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