With the Baja tomato season in full stride, grower-shippers looking for specific clamshells now have a locally-based option.
Because of the growth of the grape tomato category it now makes economic sense for Sambrailo Packaging, which is based in Watsonville, CA,to manufacture one-pound RunRite grape tomato clamshells in its Mexican plant.
Jim Scattini, vice president of sales and marketing for the firm, said the move gives the company a quicker turnaround time for its customers in Mexico. It also lets the company avoid some of the problems involved at the border crossing when bringing empty clamshells from the United States down into Mexico.
Adding manufacturing capabilities for an additional clamshell at another one of the firm’s facilities is an expensive endeavor. To make these clamshells, the company has to invest in molds that can easily cost into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. In fact, he said even simple tweaking of existing molds runs into the tens of thousands of dollars. For this reason, he relayed that before the decision is made to add a container run in a particular facility, the business has to be there. The company needs to sell millions of a specific clamshell to justify the cost of a new mold. In Mexico the size of the grape tomato clamshell market has reached that tipping point where it is worth the investment.
The clamshell being manufactured is designed to work in high-speed packing operations so the clamshell itself has to be made to exact specifications to keep the line running efficiently.
Scattini said field operations where packing is done by hand don’t require the same precision in a clamshell as do these automated packingsheds. He added that the year-round nature of the Mexican tomato deal with its shade and greenhouse operations has created a significant demand for this particular clamshell.
Sambrailo Packaging, headquartered in Watsonville, CA, is a third-generation family-owned company that has served the produce and floral industries since 1923. The firm provides produce packaging solutions from its locations in California and Mexico. Its produce-packaging line of products is extensive, eco-friendly and innovative. Sambrailo was one of the first produce-packaging companies to develop a plastic clamshell for berries. Similarly, it has continued to provide improvements to the industry with its patented freight-savings MIXIM Packaging System and family of MIXIM Snap-Flap and RunRite containers.