Fruit Today euromagazine talks to Alberto Palmí, who has been at the head of the Spanish Federation of Wooden Crates and their Components (FEDEMCO) for the past year.
At FEDEMCO, have you noticed greater dynamism due to the currently popular anti-plastic campaigns?
I would not call them anti-plastic campaigns; they are rather campaigns to raise awareness and for environmental respect. The truth is that there has been an important increase in queries. A case in point being Fruit Attraction, where we had a 25% increase in visits and consultations compared to the previous year and all of them indicated their concern about the problem and asked us for information about our formats to replace plastic.
What are the advantages of wooden packaging for a fruit or vegetable product compared to cardboard and plastic?
Many, the first and foremost being that wood is a totally natural product, which does not cause pollution, which is produced by nature, it captures CO2 and turns it into oxygen, which is sustainable, biodegradable, etc.
On the other hand, there are no rivals to wooden packaging for fruit shipments in cold storage containers. In fact, most orange shipments to China, if not all of them, are being made in wooden packaging, as well as to other overseas countries. It has been proved that the fruit arrives in top conditions in wooden packaging.
Could you explain FEDEMCO’s figures in the fruit and vegetable growing sector?
In general, in the fruit and vegetable growing sector, we are looking at some reference data of between 17 and 20%. Citrus fruit would be the most prominent subsector, closely followed by stone fruit, including apples and pears, due to seasonality, and finally, strawberries.
The fresh vegetable sector is also important, but it is significantly smaller compared to the fruit sector, although the important growth in the use of wooden packaging for tomatoes in Almeria is worth mentioning.
What are Fedemco’s new developments or challenges for 2019?
Our challenge is to grow in sales and customer services. Regarding new developments and due to the plastic problem, we are being asked for many small formats, sales unit, that is to say, different smaller models, mainly of between 1 and 2.5 kg. The tubs or trays from 250 g to 1000 g are also becoming very popular.
I would like to point out that for FEDEMCO the concepts such as sustainability, respect for the environment or circular economy are all very important and we, along with our members, try to transmit this concept to all the links in the food chain.
A year has passed since your appointment, what would you highlight?
The truth is that on a personal level, it has been a challenge. However, I must admit that I got used to it quickly and I enjoy what I do. I would like to point out one thing that I have not managed to get used to: the fact that every day there are more ecological products, but when I see them in plastic packaging, I think that they lose all their value and I find it really grates to see a bio product in a packaging that is not natural.