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From farm to fork, Part 2: A flexible way to secure the pallet

The challenge of protecting food from farm to fork is a two-stage process. In our last blog, we discussed how effective packaging solutions preserve raw materials before they arrive at the processing location, and how those challenges vary from produce to dairy to packaged food.

Once the food is ready for retail distribution, a whole new set of challenges arise. Distribution centers bring food together from a variety of sources, and then create pallets based on the needs of individual grocery and retail customers. This means a pallet of any boxed product—let’s use 16 cases of macaroni and cheese as an example—will arrive at the distribution center.

The pallet will be broken down, because a local grocery may only have ordered five cases, and those five cases will be combined with all the other cases of other boxed products on a new pallet. The next stage is to secure those cases to the pallet and provide the same level of security for the packaging as it had when it arrived at the distribution center.

At least that’s the goal. Of the 400 billion pounds of food produced in the U.S. each year, the USDA estimates one-third of it—or 133 billion pounds—is simply thrown away. Part of that waste is the damage that occurs to products during the shipping stages, making the product unsalable even if it might not have been compromised. In short, no one wants to buy a box of mac and cheese in a dented box.

To address the secure packaging of odd-shaped pallets at the distribution center, a robotic pallet wrapper such as the ones offered by Muller are considered the industry standard today.

Regardless of whether the pallet is assembled by hand or by a robot, the robotic pallet wrapper can adjust automatically to the specific geometry of the products, including dealing with sharp corners, uneven edges and varying heights. No two pallets are identical when they leave the distribution center, but they all can count on the identical attention from a robotic pallet wrapper.

The next time you walk to your grocery store, think about the journey each item available has taken. Without proper load security along the way, most of those products would not have survived.  From raw ingredients, to processing to distribution, Muller has a history of proudly protecting pallets throughout the supply chain while simultaneously reducing waste and optimizing load containment practices.

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