July-August 2015

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y first experience in the fresh produce supply chain was in the 1970's when I had a sales territory covering California and Arizona produce growing areas calling on hundreds of growers/shippers, cooling and loading facilities. I was amazed at the loading process for refrigerated trailers and rail cars because the boxes of perishables were floor stacked by union loading crews who worked fast and furious in open air loading areas. I also observed the use of wooden "boxes" in the shipments of cantaloupes, grapes, tree fruit and other commodities such as bushel baskets of spinach, wire bound crates of corn. Things have certainly changed with nearly 100% of produce shipments today packed in corrugated boxes and being securely loaded on pallets in the field through the cooling process and into the transportation vehicle and on to retail, wholesale and food service distribution centers. The shift was not without challenges as the labor unions were up in arms due to the reduction of heavy manual labor and it was not an easy battle. I observed the labor requirements diminish going from the process of floor stacked produce using brute force to the not so physical use of forklifts; pallets and even use of slip sheets on a trial basis. The use of the slip sheet was lower cost compared to a pallet but it was short lived due to the slip sheet covering of the trailer t-grooved floors which 18 PalletCentral • July-August 2015 M INDUSTRY Photo provided by Pallets Incorporated. Guest Editorial by Dan Vaché Farm Fresh, Delivered on a Pallet

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