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Kurt Zuhlke & Associates will be exhibiting at the Canadian Produce Marketing Association Convention & Trade Show in Toronto April 17-19. Kurt Zuhlke, owner and president of the company, will be there to greet customers and prospective customers. He will be presenting the company’s entire line of clamshells, liners, films, corrugated materials and other packaging options.

“The CPMA convention committee does a really outstanding job putting this expo together every year,” Mr. Zuhlke told The Produce News. “They seem to put together a program that makes it easier to talk to and do business with people, and the venues are always in friendly atmospheres.

“We do a lot of business in Canada,” he continued. “Canadians are always upbeat, professional, well organized and very personable. There doesn’t seem to be the bureaucracy that we see from some of the major U.S. organizations.”

Mr. Zuhlke is a strong advocate of environmentally sustainable practices, and he has designed and developed some of the most highly accepted packaging products known in the produce industry today. The company uses PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate) in many of its packaging items.

PET is commonly recycled from soft drink bottles and injection-molded consumer product containers. When recycled, it is used in many applications besides packaging, including carpeting, clothing, automobile parts and it is even used to manufacture trash and recycling containers.

“Packaging products made of recycled PET materials are absolutely more sustainable than foam,” said Mr. Zuhlke. “The paper packaging items that some producers and packers are using today are a trend that may look unique, but it’s not doing anything good for the environment. These cardboard containers that you see berries, mushrooms and other products in are just recycled paper from foreign countries that are 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.”

He added that people who were around in 1945 likely remember the chipboard, paper or corrugated packaging that was commonly used, and the new paper containers aren’t any better. And, he noted, people today aren’t saving any money by using the paper products.

“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 will 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.”

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

“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 crossovers 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.”