Customers these days want to buy high quality fruit and vegetables and growers and producers around the world have the skills to produce this high quality and consistency in their produce, but how can they add extra value?
"Many growers can't add value to their produce because they don't have the means to deliver it in the required format," explains Murray Hillborne from Marco. "Our message has been that if people want to add value then they have to send it to the customer in the format that the customer wants. If the customer wants 500g open top punnets, then that is what you have to send. But companies can't just keep throwing money and more people at the problem, what we have to do is provide them with the means to process and pack the product that the customer wants and to do it in the most efficient way."
Murray explains that South Africa is a prime example of this. "Several years ago South Africa took the decision to invest in their packhouses and pack their fruit in the format that customers want and, in my opinion, the South African table grape industry is a world leader and the rest of the world will need to play catch-up."
"You can't add value in the field; you can’t reliably pack punnets in the field, and you can't guarantee quality and consistency in the field. When there is only one person who decides on the quality and presentation of the end product it can't be guaranteed, so you need to bring it into the pack house, clean it properly, pack it properly and get it out the door. That is what makes you an important part of the supply chain and not just ‘another supplier’."
"We are trying to help our customers be sharper, more competitive and add more value. I want them to understand that every punnet processed on one our lines equals greater profit and also puts their fruit in a better position in the market. We make a statement that we will increase productivity by 30% over their current methods and, in markets that supply EU countries, we also guarantee to reduce overpack to virtually zero."
In the States, where all packs are packed to a ‘declared weight’, Marco guarantees a maximum of 2.5% overpack. According to Murray, in the States at the moment in certain produce, for every 11 clamshells produced there is enough overpack to fill the 12th clamshell for free. The reason for this is that the cost of failure is so high they purposely over fill them, but this does not do anyone any good; the quality fruit is given away and the over-packed fruit gets squashed, which looks unsightly and hugely reduces shelf life.
Marco has been in business for 32 years and this is the first year that export sales have considerably exceeded domestic sales. The company now does business in 35 different countries around the world.