Market for transit returnables growing fast in protein sectors

By Paul Gander

- Last updated on GMT

Returnable transit packaging works out cheaper than using board or polystyrene in 95% of cases, says PPS
Returnable transit packaging works out cheaper than using board or polystyrene in 95% of cases, says PPS
The use of plastic returnable transit packaging (RTP) in UK food is growing, says supplier PPS, notably in the meat, poultry and fish sectors, though there is little evidence that returnables are conquering major new categories.

“As a business, we’ve been growing by around 20% a year for the past three years,”​ said md of PPS Joanne Moss. “This tends to be existing customers expanding the use of our services, for example, to additional food production sites.”

PPS provides delivery, collection, asset tracking, washing, rental and repair of its returnable crates and trays, with food making up the “vast majority” ​of its business. The RTP is used both pre- and post- processing.

Where returnables are introduced, they may replace board, expanded polystyrene or both.

‘Cost savings’

“Cost savings depend on a number of variables,”​ said Moss. “But in 95% of cases where we’ve priced up returnables, it’s been cheaper. In fact, it’s only more expensive where there are problems getting the RTP back to us.”

She added: “With a new contract, we’ll look at the supply chain and at the packaging they’re currently using, and find the optimal size and shape of returnable.”

As an example of how the company responds to end-user needs, Moss said, it had introduced a small leak-proof crate for smaller deliveries to foodservice customers, in particular.

£1.5M site

Last year, PPS moved its main Midlands site to a location twice the size. In September this year it invested £1.5M in a new Grimsby washing operation, again much larger than the site it replaced.

The site was opened by Pete Ward, chief executive of longstanding customer Young’s Seafood.

Washing operations have been optimised to minimise carbon and energy footprint, the company said.

Earlier this year, PPS also acquired Lancashire-based Alison Handling.

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