Mission Foods leapfrogs competitors with plastic ship boxes

Aug. 4, 2014 | by Darrel Suderman

With one simple decision by Mission Foods to replace disposable corrugated boxes it was using to ship products with reusable plastic containers, they accomplished multiple goals of green sustainability, cost reduction, functionality, lowered land waste, and packaging innovation. And by adding RFID tags, they also improved warehouse management by deploying a radio frequency identification system to track those containers.

Mission Foods took innovation seriously

It is not often in the QSR industry, that one decision can positively impact so many touch points in restaurant operations. It is obvious that Mission Foods took innovation seriously, and tried to positively impact their customers and their organization in the maximum number of ways they could think off.

Innovation success leaves competition

I first encountered this new packaging in a local Super Target store. I immediately asked the guy stocking Mission Foods products on the shelves from these shipping boxes, and he enthusiastically shared the benefits of the new technology. He spewed positive energy and was proud to be a part of the Mission Foods family. His competitor working in the same store isle lacked the same enthusiasm, and I am sure wondered why his company has failed to keep up with the competition.

Cost savings

According to Eduardo Valdes, VP of management information systems at Mission Foods, the company was shipping tortilla chips and other light food products in corrugated boxes that cost $1 apiece. He said they “were basically throwing a dollar away" because the box was used only once. Mission Foods was purchasing nearly one million boxes annually for just its three Texas facilities, he says. Including all its U.S. locations, Mission Foods was spending more than $5 million per year on the boxes. Now they can use the box an estimated 25 to 50 times.

Valdez further stated that "The major environmental issue our company was trying to address was the lack of recycling and sustainable culture in our manufacturing plants and warehouses." Management decided to replace the corrugated boxes with plastic containers, to save money and promote recycling. The reusable containers cost approximately $7 apiece, and the company estimated it needed to use each one roughly eight times to break even.

For this innovation, Mission Foods won the 2011 RFID Journal Award Winner: RFID Green Award—The Greening of Mission Foods as reported by Bob Violino, RFID Journal writer.

For more information our 3-day Advanced Batter and Breading Technology Workshop Oct. 7-9 at JBT FoodTech in Sandusky, Ohio, please contact me at dsuderman@foodbevbiz.com or 303-471-1443.

Our 3-day 10 PILARS OF FOOD INNOVATION workshop will be held in October this fall also. Both courses will be offered in the Philippines/SE Asia in January 2015. This course is based in three Harvard Business Press books that have been applied to the food industry. To pre-register or to volunteer your company as a host site, contact me at dsuderman@foodbevbiz.com or 303-471-1443.

Topics: Equipment & Supplies, Research & Development / Innovation, Sustainability

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