Have you ever wondered how a fruit carton box is made? The carton manufacturing plant in Ontario is perhaps the crown jewel in the Fruit Growers system. “State-of-the-art” is an overworked adjective in the agriculture industry, but when it comes to the Ontario container plant, it is dead-on accurate.

Unparalleled Efficiency

It is simply the best, most efficient corrugated manufacturing plant of its kind, although we continue to tweak it to further boost efficiency. In a typical year, the plant produces 80 million citrus containers. In addition to producing all of the cartons its members need, Fruit Growers also produces containers for industrial users and anyone in the open market.

Innovative Packaging Solutions

To the uneducated eye, a fruit carton box may appear to be a simple container, but looks can be deceiving. Each size and style of a citrus carton is carefully engineered in Fruit Growers’ own design lab to provide maximum protection, breathability, and moisture-absorbing characteristics at the lowest possible weight. The slightest flaw — air vents cut just a little too sharply, for example — can lead to damaged fruit.

Retail Display Containers

The requirements of the ever-changing retail environment into which Sunkist (Fruit Growers’ sister co-op) markets fruit means that new types and designs are constantly needed. In 2005 alone, Fruit Growers was called upon to design and produce 40 new fruit carton box containers and other packaging solutions.

This trend accelerates as the industry becomes more diversified, both on the production side — where clementines and other tangerine-type varieties gained popularity — and in the retail sector, where warehouse-type outlets are gaining a bigger share of the market. The warehouse store operations also require that the supplier, in effect, manage the produce sections.

At any one time, Fruit Growers may be asked to supply 200-300 different packaging items. On an hour’s notice, a packing house can typically pick up its fruit carton box order. That’s the kind of efficiency that sets our corrugated manufacturing plant apart.

“In the past, containers only needed to get the product to the retail outlet. Containers were not part of the display. Today there is more demand for containers — such as clam-shell trays and various sizes of bags with promotional coupons printed on them — that go directly into the hands of the consumer.”

Sunkist marketers often come up with a design concept, which Fruit Growers engineers work on to turn that vision into reality. They experiment with different weights and how a fruit carton box will ship, striving to maximize the integration of the carton with pallet and trucking configurations. Innovation here is constant; they work hard to ensure that the containers they provide are the ones that the rest of the industry will try to emulate.

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