Nearly 50 years ago, a local shipping partnership started selling strawberries out of a trailer in Watsonville, Calif. Their small entrepreneurial adventure became a giant success, literally: California Giant Berry Farms now provides strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and raspberries to major retailers throughout North America.
In addition to being a top berry producer, California Giant is establishing itself as a leader in sustainability. The company is proactively revamping operations, with zero waste as the end objective. The goal is a perfect fit with CHEP, a longtime California Giant partner. CHEP and its parent company, Brambles, are helping customers eliminate waste, eradicate empty transport miles and cut out inefficiency through a collaborative new approach, Zero Waste World.
“I had a real ‘ah hah’ moment when I was talking to CHEP about Zero Waste World. We’re not just taking this journey on our own. Partners can be a positive part of our sustainability initiative,” says Cindy Jewell, Vice President of Marketing, California Giant Berry Farms. “That’s important to remember. It’s easy to get so far into the weeds with implementing a sustainability program, that you don’t take a moment to look at your partners and consider what they’re doing, and how you can make a bigger impact together.”
CHEP’s 48x40-inch pooled pallets play an essential part in California Giant’s supply chain from picking to purchase: Pallets are taken into the field on harvest day, where full berry boxes and containers are loaded on. From the field, the berries go through a cooler before being shipped across the country. At some “giant” retail locations, the pallets are moved directly onto the store floor for consumer purchase. When empty, the pallets go back to CHEP.
“What CHEP brings to the table that other vendors don’t is the ‘reuse’ portion of its circular solution,” says Jewell. “CHEP goes beyond recycling.”
According to Jewell, the efficiency of CHEP’s approach is key to truly sustainable success.
“In the end, none of this works unless the growers and the company are profitable – we have to ensure that we can plant again next year,” says Jewell. “Positive change is driven by collaboration. We’re committed to our partnership with CHEP.”