26 Apr What’s the ideal material to pack organic product?
Since the very beginning of Organic Horticultural Production in Europe in the 90’s, PIZZI OSVALDO & C. Spa have followed the entire process of organic fruit and vegetable agri-business in Italy, from the organic farms to the supermarket shelves.
Today, we track the course of production, authenticity, and correction of Organic production certification; on our side we are certified by recognized agencies, QCERTIFICAZIONE, BRC and IFC. We encourage and help organic producers to grow and develop their businesses appropriately. [check on our website to learn more on our Quality Standard].
An important piece of our work is maintaining the gold standard in agriculture (in Italy specifically), we cooperate with specific Italian Public agencies to control the legal aspects and equity for workers. In addition, we established the process to guarantee the safety, rights and justice for all workers throughout the entire production chain. [check on our website to learn more on the Ethical Path].
At PIZZI OSVALDO & C. Spa we are responsible for logistics from the production sites in Southern Italy, the North-west and around the world to our facilities in Northern Italy. Once the produce arrives, we make a further selection: controlling quality of every product is the objective to ensure the highest quality of the final product. Once the final selection has been made the product is packaged using the appropriate materials and distributed to the best grocery store chains in Italy.
Our most important customer, ESSELUNGA SPA, is the N.1 grocery store chain in Italy. It is recognized by all their customers for having the highest level of quality and by the most relevant financial key performance indicators: recently they were identified as the first retail grocery store chain with the most efficient retailer worldwide per square meter, better than Delhaize in Belgium, Sainsbury and Tesco in the UK, and Woolworths in Australia… There is no doubt, they know what they are doing.
Pizzi Osvaldo & C. Spa is an Italian reality, we have become the core of the organic fruit & vegetable industry, for the grocery store chains in Italy and are happy to serve.
Packaging was the weak link in the industry
Packaging is just one of the components of processing organic food that will eventually be distributed to the market.
The main question we wanted to address was, ‘What material should organic products be packaged in?’ Plastic? However, as an environmentally conscious company, we are concerned with the amount of wasted plastic that the human race is generating.
What is the best solution for a sustainable world?
Compostable products are the answer – they are made from innovative materials and decompose fully without producing toxic residue as they break down. According to the EN 13432 Standard, compostable films are converted into CO2, water and new biomass within max. 6 months in industrial compositing facilities, and within 12 months in domestic composting units, guaranteeing the optimal quality of the resulting compost, which is perfectly suitable for plant growth.
Today, we use fully compostable packaging materials on all our organic products with the brand of their main customer. However, the leap to compostable packaging was not as simple as it sounds.
The Machines and the New Compostable-Wrap
We began the process back in 2016, when we asked for a meeting with the R&D engineering department of the FABBRI GROUP, one of the most important Italian suppliers with a wide portfolio of films and machines for industrial packaging purposes. The FABBRI GROUP were also looking at innovative ways to package organic products.
At that time, we were using plastic materials as everyone else in the industry. Without doubt plastic, performs like no other material and cannot be easily duplicated nonetheless the need to move away from plastic remains a challenge for the agricultural business.
The FABBRI GROUP launched their tests here in our facilities and for over one year their R&D department came with innovative solutions of stretch film made from new non-plastic components to be tested on our organic carrots, apples, tomatoes, and avocados. However there were still different issues to define and optimize.
Packaging speed, transparency, breathability and cost
First, the new stretch film had to be used in an automatic industrial packaging machine. One of the models that we had in-house was the brand new AUTOMAC 75NF, for industrial production line packaging, which raises the maximum speed of packaging up to 75 packs per minute. We can confirm this number; we are able to package up to 75 packs per minute with the standard plastic stretch film made with PVC (polyvinylchloride).
However, the machinability of the new compostable film is different. Also, food perishes quickly so the film must be completely transparent and at the same time breathable in order to show the food and maintain its quality for the entire shelf life.
The final product needed to be visually appealing to the consumer: identified as young smart and highly educated, the typical organic consumer, should be able to choose the product easily from the shelves in the stores.
It took more than 3 years to to optimize the machine for the use of compostable film as well and develop a material with the appropriate performance. PIZZI OSVALDO & C. Spa together with NATURE FRESH® (the name given to the new compostable stretch film) today have effectively and efficiently solved the packaging problem. They are officially contributors to an environmentally conscious choice: since the end of 2019, the Fabbri certified compostable cling film with minimal impact on the environment is becoming widely used as the packaging material of choice by the Organic Horticulture Industry.
Triumphant! The first delivery
On November 25th, 2019 PIZZI OSVALDO & C. Spa proudly distributed to ESSELUNGA SPA, their organic products packed with the first certified compostable stretch film available on a worldwide scale, developed by the Italian FABBRI GROUP, and with compostable trays and labels as well.
We did not stop there! The Compostable paper tray and Net Bag became the next milestones
A few years ago, trays and net bags were made from virgin plastic. Today we use the new paper tray made entirely of special materials that can be disposed of in the paper recycling bin or in compostable bins.
Our producers of the paper tray are CIESSE PAPER and FIMAT, Italian paper mill companies, both under the Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC) forest management certification, which confirms that the forests are being managed to preserve biological diversity and benefit the lives of local people and workers, while ensuring it sustains economic viability.
The Compostable Net Bag
During 2020, PIZZI OSVALDO & C. Spa also transformed other packaging materials. Having had the experience of the compostable stretch film, we initiated another plan to develop a composable net bag, that was originally made of 100% plastic, until 2019. We spent ‘only’ one year in experimenting, with two Italian companies that provide food packaging solutions and machinery. Together with NNZ and Saclark, we found the best solution for the net bag, for organic citrus fruit, onions, and potatoes. In this case, the challenge was to maintain, quality and keep production cost low, since onions and potatoes are normally not as expensive as organic imported avocados.
The investment of time and resources, for our partners and customers’ were gigantic. Nonetheless, we believed in the project then and are committed to progress and the benefits of going green. We made this choice because we deeply believe and are dedicated to sustainability and the Circular Economy: PIZZI OSVALDO & C. Spa started with the organic solution because we proudly and strongly believe that this is the only way to preserve our planet, to save our health and the environment.
We are secure in the fact that our choices for sustainability are widely accepted and strongly supported by the consumers. Our promise is to continue developing products that preserve our planet for future generations.