Sustainable Transport of Fresh Groceries
6/20/2023 Retail Brands Industry Look into Europe Interview

Sustainable Transport of Fresh Groceries

NORMA will be using sustainable IFCO transport crates for fruit and vegetables in the future to reduce packaging and food waste. FACHPACK360° spoke to Katja Heck, Head of Central Advertising and Communications at NORMA Lebensmittelfilialbetrieb Stiftung & Co. KG in Fürth.

Sustainable transport crates for food: NORMA, the Nuremberg-based discount grocer, and IFCO, a global supplier of reusable transport crates, have entered into a long-term partnership. Sustainable transport crates for food: NORMA, the Nuremberg-based discount grocer, and IFCO, a global supplier of reusable transport crates, have entered into a long-term partnership.

How long have IFCO transport crates made of recycled material been used in NORMA stores?

Since May 2023, NORMA has carried out an extensive conversion to reusable crates for fruit and vegetables, which makes a significant contribution to sustainability. In all 1,352 NORMA stores in Germany and Austria, black crates for products from Europe and green crates for regional products were introduced to highlight regional goods. In the future, more and more items in the fruit and vegetable range will be delivered with the reusable transport crates.

What are the advantages of this switch from disposable cardboard or wooden packaging to the reusable crates?

The changeover not only offers cost savings, but also standardization in the picking process. The returnable transport crates ensure smooth and more efficient logistics between the producers of fresh food and the end customer in the store. In doing so, they enable the transport of both loose and packaged products without the need for confection changes. The robust design reduces damage and waste during transport. As a result, more fresh fruit and vegetables end up on sale.

Do customers also benefit?

Studies by the Fraunhofer Institute show that products in reusable containers are actually better protected and ventilated than in disposable packaging, resulting in increased product life.

What about hygiene?

The reusable containers are thoroughly washed and inspected after each circulation. Defective crates are sorted out and then either repaired or granulated to be returned to the production process and made into new transport crates.

What is the life expectancy of these crates?

The reusable containers are high quality and can usually be used up to 120 times and should remain in use for a long time.

What are the sustainability findings?

Through an ISO14004 carbon footprint study, it has been proven that using reusable crates instead of disposable packaging reduces the carbon footprint along the value chain by up to 60 percent. NORMA has thus implemented an effective and sustainable solution that promotes environmental protection and makes an important contribution to reducing packaging waste, food waste, and CO2 emissions. The much-cited triad of sustainability – reduce, reuse, recycle – has become anchored even more firmly in NORMA’s strategy through the use of the reusable transport crates.



IFCO, which claims to be the world’s leading supplier of reusable packaging containers (RPCs) to retailers, supplied more than 2 billion reusable packages of fresh produce, meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, bread, and other fresh foods in 2022. With a circular economy business model based on the principles of waste reduction and reuse, IFCO enabled its supply chain customers to achieve significant environmental savings.

By sharing and reusing IFCO RPCs in global fresh produce supply chains, IFCO customers were able to save, among other things, 614,072 metric tons of CO2e – the equivalent of traveling to the moon 8,900 times – and 11.8 million cubic meters of water – the equivalent of 4,736 Olympic-sized pools – in 2022, the company says.

IFCO calculates and quantifies these science-based savings through independent scientific life cycle analysis (LCA) studies and rewards customers for their share of the savings with annual environmental savings certificates.