Fast, slow, by road, over water or by air, cold or warm... the conditions in which products are transported can vary greatly. Incorrectly chosen packaging can hinder proper transportation, have a major impact on the quality of the product, and put serious pressure on financial margins.

As a result of many years of experience in the development of packaging solutions for fresh chains, Wageningen Food & Biobased Research offers advice on a wide range of logistic requirements. For example, how can we improve the cooling of a product during transport; do we develop a new packaging solution or are there other options? We also regularly receive questions about alternative transport options: how to package a product that is now going to be transported by shipping container rather than air? Our work sphere encompasses the entire world as supermarkets purchase their products globally, and the Netherlands is one of the world’s largest food export countries.

Simulating transport options

In our research facilities we accurately simulate and test transport options and their influence on the quality of (fresh) products –¬ including transportation in shipping containers. These testing activities take place in combination with research into the entire supply chain of a product on its journey from harvesting to the consumer. In this chain, packaging is supposed to bundle and protect products as well as facilitate an efficient loading process.

Logistic challenges

Logistics are a serious challenge to packaging companies and producers. Every means of transport has different requirements for packaging. Air cargo pallets, for example, are stacked in such a way that the semi-circular cargo space is optimally used. ‘Square’ cargo spaces (trucks, shipping containers and cold storage, for instance) require an efficient stacking of large and small packaged units. Moreover, they must have the standard size that is globally applied to pallets; which is why this type of transport commonly uses (modular) standard dimensions.

When the product also switches between means of transport during the logistic process, the packaging must be aligned to the different applicable dimensions. All these aspects make the ‘packaging puzzle’ a complicated matter. Loading and mixed cargo models provide efficient solutions to these puzzles.

Total solutions for logistics

Products, packaging, modes of transport and the demands of end users are constantly changing, which requires adaptations to the logistic process. The world expects new and attractive products that enhance user comfort, something which is further stimulated by the rise of e-commerce. We can resolve new logistic puzzles by using our knowledge of the entire production chain, in which transport and packaging are crucial elements.