For this year’s citrus harvest, choose plastic crates

If life gives you lemons…, why would you harvest them in a wooden crate? For this year’s harvest, choose best practices over old habits, and transport your fruit in plastic crates. That goes for citrus, but really for all vegetables and fruits. The advantages are many, especially if you pick AgriMax, AgriPlus®, AgriLog® and MaxiNest®, harvest bins designed by market leader Schoeller Allibert to maximise your return.

The visual beauty of California's citrus groves is just one of the many bonuses of living in the Sunshine State. The gorgeous fruit they produce is another. In California, life literally gives you lemons – not to mention oranges, grapefruit and tangerines – and you’re welcome to sample them as fresh lemonade, delicious key lime pie, or if you prefer something with a little more kick: a tasty limoncello.

Facing a choice

As the picking season for oranges and lemons approaches, California's citrus growers are faced with a choice: to continue using the wooden crates that many consumers still associate with their industry; or to adopt Schoeller Allibert’s plastic crates. These are

  • designed to better protect the produce,

  • easier to customize with your company info or logo,

  • handier to fill, stack and unload, and last but not least,

  • more hygienic, because they’re suitable for industrial washing and not subject to rotting or mold.

Drawbacks of wood

Wooden crates belong in the past; and they’ve been replaced by plastic ones for a reason. In fact, for multiple reasons. First, let’s have a look at the drawbacks of wood as a packing material for fruit (and, for that matter, all produce).

  • Wooden crates may be low-cost, but in the bigger picture, that’s not much of an advantage. For one, they’re heavier than their plastic alternatives. Plus, they can splinter, causing the produce to spoil.

  • Additionally, it’s not always easy to keep wood dry – especially not in California's humid climate – which means contamination with mold may be an issue. (Not to mention mildew and wood rot).

  • And on top of that, wooden containers show wear and tear, which results in a near-continuous need for repair and replacement.

  • Thanks to its unique design, plastic RPC’s are easier to interstack than wooden crates, ensuring safety of operators.

The modern solution

Sturdier, standardized and easier to sanitize, rigid plastic containers (RPCs) make it easier to streamline the handling of bulk materials like produce. Thanks to their unique design, RPCs are easier to interstack than wooden crates, ensuring the safety of operators. Ventilated plastic pallet containers are the modern, improved solution for harvesting citrus fruit (as well as other fruit and veg). And here’s why:

  • As soon as fruit is picked, the process of decay starts. This can be controlled and minimized by the optimal airflow via the containers’ vents.

  • The vents also allow for drainage, ensuring that the produce will dry, in case it is rained upon.

  • The airflow plays a major part in keeping the fruit cool in the hot and humid California climate.

  • Ventilated bins also make it easier for packers to fumigate the fruit or apply a fungicide, without having to perform an additional dump of the produce – saving time and preventing damage.

AgriPlus, Agrilog, AgriMax and MaxiNest

Using its decades-long experience designing plastic packaging products, leading manufacturer Schoeller Allibert has developed multiple solutions specifically for handling produce: AgriPlus®, AgriLog®, MaxiNest and, especially for the U.S. market, AgriMax.

Some advantages of the AgriPlus®:

  • Gentle. The pyramidal shape with wider base ensures balanced distribution and reduces shocks, limiting bruises to the produce.

  • Strong. Each unit loads 500 kg, nine units can be stacked on top of each other, totalling 4,500 kg.

  • Customizable. The crates have large printing zones for your label, areas for logo engraving, and can be produced in specific company colors.

  • Versatile. Comes in a solid or perforated version, with either four feet, two runners or three runners.

  • Quick. The design is optimized for quickest unloading at tipping.

Some advantages of the AgriLog®:

  • Protective. It’s half the height, but with the same footprint. This offers better protection for soft fruit in bulk application.

  • Optimized design. Its highly ventilated design enables optimized airflow, and its optional friction plugs enhance performance and safety on forklifts.

  • Economical. The container’s slanted horizontal surfaces speed water drainage, reducing cleaning time, and ultimately providing extra savings.

Some advantages of the AgriMax:

  • American-sized. With its 48” by 48” footprint, the AgriMax is the ideal harvest and storage bin for the U.S. market.

  • All harvests. The AgriMax is suitable for citrus harvests, but also ideal for peaches, pears, onions, sweet potatoes, and pistachios.

  • Ventilated. The AgriMax is designed for maximized ventilation, so the airflow can help keep the produce fresh longer.

  • Damage reduction. The AgriMax has rounded edges, helping to minimize shocks during transport, thus minimizing damage to the produce.

Some advantages of the MaxiNest®:

  • Award-winning. MaxiNest® is a proven leader of packaging solutions in the retail market.

  • High nesting ratio. Thanks to its excellent nesting abilities, MaxiNest® is designed to replace one-way transport packaging for food and grocery retail.

  • Fill rate. MaxiNest® offers improved vehicle fill rates, both on outbound and inbound trips.

  • Excellent design. The variously sized stacking crates are highly ventilated to keep the citrus produce fresh, and perfectly designed for automated handling. Even during harvesting, the Maxinest 2.0 is easy to operate & stack filled with produce

More productive, more lucrative

Plastic bins have surfaces that are stronger, smoother and cleaner than those of wooden crates. By helping to prevent bruising of produce, they’re also much more likely to pass grading and certification tests. And their lifespans are much longer than those of wooden crates.

Furthermore, due to the, well, plastic nature of these more modern crates, they can come fitted with fork pockets that match the forks of lift trucks, if need be with four-way fork pockets, offering access from any direction.

In short, plastic crates like the AgriPlus®, AgriLog®, AgriMax and MaxiNest® can make your harvest a success, with fewer damaged fruits, more efficient material handling, and an overall more productive (and thus lucrative) season.

Additionally, Schoeller Allibert offers the option to better track & trace perishable goods from field to fork, ensuring growers are living up to the highest quality standards. Thanks to SmartLink® or RFID, Schoeller Allibert customers will be able to ensure compliance along the entire supply chain.

If life gives you plastic, choose progress. For this year’s citrus harvest season, choose Schoeller Allibert.