Shoppers at Woolworths, South Africa, will be seeing a lot more cardboard packaging in-store in future, such as the kraft board cartons used for their ‘Ripe and Ready’ avocados, rolled out to all varieties this year.

Westfalia Fruit’s Ripe and Ready team were instrumental in the creation of these boxes. When designing new packaging for larger Gem fruits in 2019, the Ripe and Ready team decided to search for recyclable alternatives to its current packaging. This idea closely aligned with Woolworths’s ‘ZERO packaging waste-to-landfill’ strategy, in which Woolworths pledged that all of its packaging be reusable or recyclable by 2022. After much investigation and testing, the team finally found a solution.

The new packaging, launched nationwide in Woolworths stores, features a punnet with a ‘kraft-box’ base made from 63% recycled paper, and covered with a fully recyclable shrink wrap made from South African-manufactured Superthene and polyolefin polymer, which is fully recyclable, unlike the PVC of before. The new kraft boxes are 100% fully recyclable, biodegradable and Forest Stewardship Council certified.

It has been a long road to get to this point, according to Pierre Geldenhuys, Business Manager: Pre-Pack for Westfalia Fruit. “After months of planning and testing, the team finally put together the ideal environmentally friendly packaging and managed to finalise the kraft boxes three years later.”

“So far, customers have been very excited by the new packaging,” says Geldenhuys.

Read the original article (extract below) on Woolworths’ new packaging published on here.

“The transportation of ‘Ripe and Ready’ avocados from farm to distribution centre to store and then into customer’s homes requires a gentle but robust packaging choice,“ Woolworths notes. The ‘Ripe and Ready’ avocado kraft boxes (made from 63% recycled paper) equates to an annual plastic saving of between 35 to 40 tons and is covered with a fully recyclable shrink wrap.

The new packaging is the result of several years of development, trialling many different types of cardboard before eventually settling on locally-sourced kraft board which, unlike other paper pulp-based holders, were found to hold their shape when shrink-wrapped while offering better protection against bruising. The ripeness level of greenskin varieties, particularly Fuerte, has to be spot-on, otherwise compression bruising becomes an issue, notes Frans Gelderblom, Senior Technologist for fruit at Woolworths. “On Hass and Gem we haven’t had any issues”

“We have been working closely with our suppliers and packaging manufacturers for over two years on this new design, including extensive customer trials over the last eight months with the various avocado varieties. We are confident that the new packaging will deliver the functionality that we need. Kraft board is an excellent packaging alternative to plastic in that it is 100% fully recyclable, biodegradable and Forest Stewardship Council certified,” says Latiefa Behardien, Head of Foods Technology, Safety and Good Business Journey at Woolworths.

They have fine-tooth-combed all of their products for ways to save in plastic and other materials: because the packaging of their range of prepared meals has now shifted to recyclable paper board, where possible, the company has avoided the use of 4.3 million plastic punnets.