Friday, 05 November 2021 11:27

Hoogstraten’s recycled packaging ensures sustainable strawberry production

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Hoogstraten is putting sustainability first by using recycled carton punnets for their premium strawberries, which are available all year round and supplied directly to the UK.

Coöperatie Hoogstraten has switched to carton punnets for their standard strawberry packaging, making a big step in reducing plastic waste, as the new carton punnet is made from more than 90% recycled carton, and is also recyclable.

The mission statement of Hoogstraten is "Together shaping a sustainable future in fresh fruit and vegetables through craftsmanship and high-quality services". They pride themselves on producing strawberries that are globally renowned for their flavour and quality. The cooperative is based near Antwerp. Throughout October and November, Belgium is the main source of strawberries in Europe.

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Synnøve Johansson, Business Development Manager at Hoogstraten, says: “An additional benefit of the new carton punnet is the labour costs that are reduced for our growers. Our new machinery assembles each punnet and places them in a pre-assembled carton pallet, ready to be sent to the grower. This is a helpful tool that is now more useful than ever, as it simplifies the process and saves additional labour for when it comes to picking and packing the fruit.”

Packaging material remains one of the largest contributors to the cooperative’s CO2 footprint. Because of this, Hoogstraten are working with their carton punnet supplier to see how they can jointly further improve this impact in the future.

Johansson adds: “Due to their delicate nature, strawberries are unlikely to be sold loose, and so deciding on the most suitable and sustainable packaging is not always a simple choice. We have invested in an LCA tool to assist us in our evaluation of different packaging options, as it is about more than just reducing our environmental impact or using recycled plastic.

“Other practical factors also need to be considered when it comes to packaging, such as the raw material used, food safety concerns and the shelf life of the product.

  • The UK promotional campaign is run by Coöperatie Hoogstraten.
  • Hoogstraten is the cooperative specialising in fruits, with a passion for quality.
  • The main strawberry varieties grown by Hoogstraten are:
  • Elsanta: Red and tasty, accounts for most of the strawberries marketed by Hoogstraten
  • Sonata: Fresh red, round and sweet. Perfect for enlightened crop in winter and very successful in spring.
  • Sonsation: Sweet with an intensive gloss. Looks like Sonata, but the red colour appears to be more intense.
  • Limalexia: Fruits with a pleasant texture and excellent taste. Looks like Elsanta, but the fruit size throughout the growing season is better maintained.
  • Murano: Everbearer with appearance of a June bearer.
  • All strawberries sold at Hoogstraten are grown locally in Belgium, or just across the border in the south Netherlands.
  • Strawberries account for approximately 50% of Hoogstraten’s turnover.
  • Every year approximately one third of the strawberry volumes are sold domestically, while two thirds are exported, to the UK and other markets. From September through to mid-December around 80% of Hoogstraten’s volumes are exported.
  • The UK marketing campaign for Hoogstraten strawberries began in September this year.
  • Scandinavia, UK and France are the largest export market for Belgian strawberries, due to the market favouring fresh products.
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