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The Kroger Co. has shipped its 20 billionth pound of produce in a reusable plastic container, delivered to the Cincinnati-based grocer’s Delaware, Ohio, distribution center.
This milestone container of lettuce represents more than 15 years of growth for RPCs in the U.S. produce industry and further demonstrates Kroger’s commitment to sustainability through its use of reusable containers in its supply chain.
“What started as a sustainable solution to ensure the highest quality of fruits and vegetables for our customers has grown into an impactful way for Kroger to reduce waste and improve the efficiency of our produce supply chain,” said Phil Davis, Kroger’s senior perishables supply chain manager. “IFCO is a great partner in helping Kroger and our suppliers meet our sustainability commitments.”
Kroger continues to increase its volume of fresh produce shipped in RPCs. The commodities currently shipped in RPCs include green onions, radishes, lettuce, grapes, tomatoes, avocados, corn, beans, carrots, cabbage, cauliflower and celery. Kroger’s RPC shipments this year will eliminate more than 45 million pounds of waxed and corrugated boxes that would otherwise require disposal.
Prior to the launch of RPCs in the United States in 1996, most produce was shipped in disposable boxes and crates, and was often damaged because the packaging wasn’t strong enough to protect the products during transit. RPCs improve product quality, increase productivity and are environment-friendly.
“Kroger is a leader in retail innovation, and that clearly extends to the company’s use of environmentally sustainable tools like RPCs,” said Fred Heptinstall, president and general manager of RPC manufacturer IFCO Systems U.S.
As part of the commemoration of the 20 billionth-pound shipment, IFCO is holding its inaugural customer forum, a conference for growers, retailers and strategic partners at the Wigwam Resort this week.
Tampa, Fla.-based IFCO is an international logistics service provider with more than 210 locations worldwide.