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Weather hampers Peakfresh

After a mostly dry January and early February, Mother Nature finally unleashed some winter rains and freezing temperatures on California in late February and early March. The harsh weather has slowed business for Peakfresh USA, which offers modified pallet bags used extensively by the strawberry industry.

“We’ve had a slow start to the year and more rain is expected,” said Greg Ganzerla, president of Peakfresh and a companion firm, Image Plastics and Packaging, both of which are headquartered in Lake Forest, CA.

PFCAPeakfresh’s new pallet bags use a modified atmosphere to slow down the natural ageing process of produce. Speaking to The Produce News on Friday, March 9, Ganzerla said the volume is bound to pick up soon and so will orders for Peakfresh’s pallet bags. The bag uses a modified atmosphere to slow down the natural ageing process by removing harmful gasses while ensuring that produce does not dehydrate.

“Our packaging significantly increases permeability allowing ethylene and other harmful gasses to escape, which considerably reduces the rate of ripening,” according to the company’s website. “Made of low density polyethylene film impregnated with a natural occurring mineral Peakfresh is the perfect solution to extend the life and quality of your produce,” the website continued.

The company’s newest wrinkle is a pallet bag with vents in it, which helps reduce condensation when the bagged pallet of strawberries is exposed to higher temperatures. Ganzerla said this product has found some utility for strawberry shippers in Mexico. He said it is an open secret that at least a few truck drivers pick up product in the interior of Mexico and turn off their refrigeration units as they run overnight to the U.S.-Mexico border. They turn them back on before the product is transloaded at a border warehouse and onto a U.S. truck. Ganzerla said often pallet bags are not applied to the berries until they enter the United States. The vented bag, he said, is a failsafe option for shippers who want to capture its benefits at the point of origin. Even if the load is subject to higher-than-expected temperatures, condensation does not build up. He added that the vented bags also work well for mixed loads with products that have different properties.

Ganzerla said orders for the bags continue to grow year over year, as the product has become a well-known option throughout the strawberry districts in Mexico, Florida and California. California, of course, ships the vast majority of berries on an annual basis so shippers in the state are his biggest customers.

As has been the case since he began representing the pallet bags in the United States many years ago for the Australian firm that invented it, Ganzerla said ease of use is its top selling point. One person in the shipping room can bag a pallet of strawberries in very quick fashion.

On the packaging side of the business, Ganzerla said the firm’s stand-up pouch is resonating with many different customers. “We are going so hard; we are so busy. I couldn’t be happier,” he said.

The company’s stand-up pouch has eight-color graphic capabilities. “We are shipping all over the country. We have customers in many different items, including green beans, squash, zucchini, jalapenos, cukes and mini-cukes.”

He said the high graphics and the excellent presentation the bag makes at retail have led to its popularity.