The mushroom packaging has undergone quite a transformation in recent years. The iconic blue container was replaced by a transparent recyclable packaging. And the plastic lid is also slowly disappearing. The loose lid is increasingly being replaced by top seal.
The Limax Group, with branches in the Netherlands and Poland, grows and trades mushrooms and soft fruit. The company also produces its own mushroom substrate in Poland. Our own cultivation in the Netherlands consists of approximately 100,000 kg of white and chestnut mushrooms per week. In addition, a considerable volume of exotic mushrooms is also traded. For the supply of organic mushrooms, Limax has the joint venture Biolines together with Nesco. The mushrooms find their way to international retail and food service, including Jumbo, Lidl, Picnic, Hanos and Metro. The Scandinavian markets and Germany in particular are supplied from Poland.
Today, Limax packs almost all mushrooms with top seal. “Certainly for the Dutch market,” says Albert Fleurkens of Limax. “We also pack trays with foil and lids. German supermarkets, for example, are not that far yet, but what is not yet may still come. Soft fruit for the German market is also increasingly packed with top seal.” What are the biggest benefits? “The packaging can be stacked, which is logistically beneficial. Moreover, with topseal less plastic is used. In addition, it offers more options in terms of printing, which ensures a nicer appearance.”
Trust is decisive
The cultivation and trading company of mushrooms and soft fruit has not only found a supplier of packaging machines in Sismatec, but also a partner/advisor who has been thinking along with Limax's ambitions and plans from the start. A collaboration that started four years ago.
Quality manager Albert looks back: “In 2017 we sat around the table with a retailer. This retailer wanted to improve the efficiency of the shelf with the help of a new concept. That is how we arrived at topseal; this ensures less plastic and a better shelf layout. We were then introduced to the Sismatec solution at Anuga in 2018.”
Sismatec is a supplier of Proseal tray sealers and specializes in packaging fruit and vegetables. Proseal produces manual, semi-automatic and automatic inline top sealing machines that can seal up to 240 packages per minute. Proseal stands for excellent quality, speed and reliability in the sealed packaging segment.
Albert indicates: “We found it quite exciting to invest in a completely new packaging process. What if topseal has no future? From the very first moment there has been great involvement from Sismatec. They thought along and offered us a test period. Their confidence was ultimately decisive.
A machine was introduced, the Proseal Traysealer GT1s, with which we could show our customers a prototype without entailing major financial risks. At the end of 2018, the first top-seal packaging rolled off the production line. At the end of 2018, the first top-seal packaging rolled off the production line.
Was it simple? “Far from it”, says Albert. “The entire packaging process has been adjusted. For example, we also had to use other trays. The biggest challenge, however, was the price. The final product should absolutely not become more expensive. In the end we succeeded and we can say that the investments we made have not been in vain. Sismatec's good cooperation and top service certainly contributed to this. But we're not there yet. Developments continue, such as a further reduction of plastic use”.
Looking at the market, the high production costs in particular pose the necessary challenges. Albert: “It has been a challenge for years to realize a fair price. The price of a box of mushrooms in the supermarket has increased slightly, but the cost price has increased more in relative terms. Just take the energy costs alone. More and more growers are forced to stop. Nevertheless, we remain optimistic. The current food trends of healthy and sustainable eating, less meat, etc., are in our favour. We still see plenty of opportunities.”
Bron: Primeur / onafhankelijk vakblad voor de agf-handel.
Editie: 9 september 2022 / paddenstoelen