This Vancouver to Miami flight was for more than just fun in the sun.

For Len Krahn, production and growing manager for Aldergrove, British Columbia-based SunSelect Produce LP, a greenhouse bell pepper grower for The Oppenheimer Group, it was a breakthrough.

Trials prove fruitful for International Paper's containers
                                           Courtesy The Oppenheimer Group

SunSelect Produce LP, Aldergrove, British Columbia, chose a container from Memphis, Tenn.-based International Paper for its greenhouse bell peppers. The peppers, which are grown for The Oppenheimer Group, showed increase shelf life as a result of the new box.

Krahn was not satisfied with the condition of his peppers when they reached East Coast destinations.

Despite a stable temperature during shipping, varying humidity caused inconsistent product.

“We were having problems with the product going coast to coast and having too much moisture in the box,” Krahn said. “We were experiencing a lot of kicks when it got there because the product wasn’t holding up.”

Krahn called Mike Nordin, his salesman for International Paper, Memphis, Tenn., and asked for a solution.

Nordin suggested a trial of the company’s Climaguard series.

A truck was loaded with peppers in four different types of container:

  • an untreated control box that SunSelect currently was using;
  • a Climaguard standard medium box;
  • a Climaguard medium with a Climacoat liner; and
  • a Climaguard medium with an Aquasafe liner, designed for very moist cargo.

When the truck arrived in Miami a few days later, the results were surprising.

“After five days of travel, the peppers looked just as they did when they went into the box,” Krahn said. “It was incredible.”

Krahn said SunSelect chose option B — the Climacoat liner — because the Aquasafe box was a little too much.

“The fear was if we shipped them locally, they wouldn’t age at all and we’d get kicked back because of green products,” he said. 

The “just right” box proved to be more cost-effective than the previous model Sun Selects was using.

“It was more than a wash,” Krahn said.

Not only did the new box show a dramatic increase in shelf life, from 12 to 13 days to 24 to 26 days, but it is less corrugated weight to ship.

“Sun Select, at the time, was shipping in a double-walled box,” Nordin said. “When Len came to me with this project, I said, ‘You know the Clima series adds strength to the box. I don’t see any reason why you should be in a double-wall box for 11 pounds of peppers.’”

Nordin said it was an overkill situation.

“We’re using too much fiber, too much paper. There is a message here that is kind of exciting to share with other customers across the country,” Nordin said.

SunSelect and International Paper were trying to simply get a product to hold up from coast to coast, but achieved so much more, Nordin said.

SunSelect was able to save money using a single-wall box and pay less for shipping, double shelf life of product and reduce its environmental footprint.

“We achieved all of these,” Nordin said. “It was pretty awesome.”