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In Focus: Preserving precious food

Smartmat, an e-commerce company that delivers fresh produce to more than 2,000 Belgian families each week, provided new challenges.

The goods need to arrive in perfect condition, preserving delicate fruit, vegetables, meat and fish while keeping it free from bacteria on its journey to the consumer’s front door.

Produce needs to be kept at a constant cool temperature in well-vented containers that are easy for packers to pack, delivery teams to handle and remain strong enough to protect the goods inside.

The existing delivery method consisted of the produce arriving in simple paper bags. These were impossible to stack and difficult to handle, and were prone to weaken because fruit and vegetables secreted moisture. Smartmat was using Belgian Post Group (bpost) for deliveries.

DS Smith worked with both Smartmat and bpost to find packaging that was easy to handle, strong and easy to stack. Throughout the collaboration, a number of prototypes were tested and assessed to identify which would be the most suitable. Designers worked with bpost to understand how the delivery teams would handle the packaging before they developed samples.

The result was packaging that is described by Smartmat as “easy to manage, easy to vent, easy to unpack and looks good”. The box can be erected quickly and, with no flaps to get in the way, packing is swift and closure takes a couple of seconds. The packaging is strong enough to store seven or eight high, and features make checking the temperature of produce during the journey easy.

Inner fluting and linings on the box are made of recyclable papers and it is quickly disassembled at home for easy recycling.

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