Since pioneering the change for a better plastic choice last year, with the introduction of Prevented Ocean Plastic to our branded range, in the UK we continue to lead the way by packing all our British supply into Prevented Ocean Plastic this season.
Conscious of our role in the supply chain and the wider role in society, our UK business is leading several innovation projects to ensure British berries are sustainably grown and packed for generations to come.
“We are proud to be leading the way for sustainable packaging innovation in the UK berry category. Our position within the supply chain is key to support growers so that they can continue to grow berries sustainably whilst we continue to meet our customer needs, through constant adaption and evolution”, says Wickus Olivier, Operations Director at BerryWorld UK.
In 2020, BerryWorld UK became the first berry supplier to introduce berry packaging made from Prevented Ocean Plastic after partnering with Sharpak, and Bantam Materials International who have supplied the recycling of over 10 billion bottles to date from developing communities into high quality products.
Raffi Schieir, Director of Bantam Materials the supplier of Prevented Ocean Plastic, said: “We developed Prevented Ocean Plastic to be part of the solution to ocean plastic pollution and are delighted to be working with BerryWorld to offer its customers a better plastic choice. By choosing products made from recycled content it ensures recycling has already happened and use of new plastic has been reduced.”
Prevented Ocean Plastic is high quality, certified recycled plastic that has been collected from coastal areas at risk of ocean plastic pollution. It meets regulatory health and safety standards and is traceable back to source. The Prevented Ocean Plastic programme ensures waste plastic is captured and reused as part of the circular economy. This has a positive environmental impact, by significantly reducing the amount of plastic going into the oceans, and thereby reducing harm to marine life, and by mitigating greenhouse gases through recycling existing waste plastic instead of making new plastic.
After having extensively trialed Prevented Ocean Plastic last year, BerryWorld UK are now packing our British berries, own-label and BerryWorld brand, using this sustainable packaging this year. “Prevented Ocean Plastic punnets have a minimum of 80 per cent recycled content, going up to 90 per cent. By moving our British soft fruit supply to this packaging this season, we aim to prevent 222 tonnes of plastic from entering the ocean, equivalent to 8.9 m water bottles”, says Wickus Olivier.
Rick Calcott Sharpak Aylesham M.D. said “As a responsible packaging supplier, and one of the market leaders in fresh produce packaging, we recognised the sustainable credentials of the Prevented Ocean Plastic supply chain and became the first mover and an exclusive partner. As a long-standing supplier to BerryWorld we were thrilled when they too saw the unique and real impact including Prevented Ocean Plastic in their punnets would make. We were proud for them to join us as the pioneering adopter in the fresh berry market in 2020 and to increase their uptake in 2021”.
"Our British season has begun, with strawberries, raspberries and blackberries already in production. Sustainability of the environment for future generations is key for our category and reusing the plastic that is already in the system is one of the best ways to do it. I am so proud of what our teams have already achieved to lead the industry forward and it is great to see other berry suppliers following,” says Paul Avery, Sales Director at BerryWorld UK.
Innovation to ensure farming sustainability
We are also trialing several automation options in 2021, given challenges around labour, to ensure soft fruit growing continues to be a sustainable activity for BerryWorld growers.
Two packhouse trials will come into fruition in May, including medium and large capacity throughput ‘Pick and Place’ robots, which will be tested with the objective of increasing automation.
In addition, we are continuing our journey, exploring the use of harvesting robots, across multiple growing environments including glasshouse picking and outdoor picking in tunnels.
“At BerryWorld, we are proud to be innovation-led and we will continue to keep an eye out for the latest innovations in the industry, to make sure our berries are always bursting with berry goodness, meaning sustainably grown and packed for the best flavour”, says Wickus Olivier..