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Kurt Zuhlke keeping new packaging items under cover until NEPC Expo

On Wednesday, April 3, Kurt Zuhlke, president of Kurt Zuhlke & Associates Inc., in Bangor, PA, will be representing his company at the 14th annual 2013 New England Produce & Floral Council Expo, in booth number 319, at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center in Boston.

“We will be introducing some new items that are under lock and key until they are launched at the show,” said Mr. Zuhlke. “And we will, of course, have our line of clamshells, liners, films, corrugated materials and other packaging options on display.”

Mr. Zuhlke explained that the company is currently diversifying by adding packaging for other food categories; namely bakery goods.

kurtKurt Zuhlke Jr., president and chief executive officer of Kurt Zuhlke & Associates.“We now have donut, pie and other baked goods’ clamshells,” said Mr. Zuhlke. “The decision to go into other categories is just good business sense. And we do find that there are very often cross-overs in retail stores between the departments. Many times retail store staff members will change departments — the produce people move to the dairy or bakery departments. We get a lot of great feedback from a produce manager who mentions to the bakery manager at his store that he saw something at our booth at a trade show that he thinks would fit well into the baked goods’ department.”

Mr. Zuhlke is totally dedicated to packaging that is recyclable, and is a strong advocate of PET material, an abbreviation for Polyethylene Terephthalate. It is commonly recycled from soft drink bottles and many injection molded consumer product containers. When recycled, it is used in many applications besides packaging, such as in carpeting, clothing, automobile parts and its even used to manufacture trash and recycling containers.

“People want high-quality products today, but they are totally tuned into the environment at the same time,” said Mr. Zuhlke. “They also want good service. These elements are the top priorities for our company. Many of our customers complain to us that they have been made to wait months and months for their packaging materials to arrive from other companies. Our priority has always been to service our customers and to ship on time.”

Noting the paper boxes that some producers and packers are using today is, Mr. Zuhlke said, a trend that may look unique, but it’s not doing anything good for the environment.

“Basically what these cardboard containers that you see berries, mushrooms and other products in are just recycled paper from foreign countries,” he said. “They’re basically dumping their garbage on us. In the end, the cardboard containers end up in landfills doing the same thing that all garbage that goes to them does — contributes to environmental hazards.

“Those who were around in 1945 likely remember the chipboard, paper or corrugated packaging that was commonly used,” continued Mr. Zuhlke. “The new paper containers aren’t any better. And people today aren’t saving any money by using these products.”

Mr. Zuhlke noted that the NEPC Expo is an important event for the company because it gets its packaging products out in front of retailers of all sizes. Often times a produce buyer or manager will see packaging at Kurt Zuhlke & Associates’ booth that they feel will fill a need or create a good sales opportunity, and they in turn go to their produce supplies and request it.

“This is quite common,” he said. “And we have many customers in New England, and as far north as Montreal and Nova Scotia. It’s therefore important for us to have representation at expo. We’ll be meeting with customers and potentially new customers to help fill their packaging needs in any way possible.”