“Fifty years ago most produce arrived at the market in big sugar sacks, especially the larger items like cabbages and cauliflowers,” recalls Jack Turner, retired Chairman of Turners and Growers.

“A lot of smaller items would come in banana boxes. In those days all the bananas came from the Pacific Islands, and arrived in double-compartment wooden boxes, which were keenly sought by growers to pack and transport their own produce.”

“The Fruit Case Company, which was established in 1919, would handle the sales and returns, repairing them as required.”

It wasn’t until the late 60’s that the familiar returnable wooden crates started to appear in the markets. While still in use today, and retaining their popularity with some growers, these are steadily giving way to the plastic Freshcrates, with growers in particular recognising the benefits of the lighter, more robust plastic containers. The crates are washed on return to the FCC depots in Auckland and Hamilton, and this hygiene factor is a favourite with growers and fruiterers alike.

Growers who have “converted” to plastic soon confirm them as being good value. Agreed, the deposit ($14 for the large F80, $11 for the F40) is an initial high cash outlay, but on the other hand plastic crates are consistent in size and weight, labelling is easy and efficient, there are no breakages, no injuries from splinters or nails, and they get their deposit back. Retailers too report their appreciation of the plastic crates, which are easier to handle, and many cite the efficiency of nesting and transporting empties as a significant plus factor.

There are around 100,000 of the big green F80 and the red F40 crates now in circulation, with demand continuing to increase.

The latest edition is the F25, a 25 litre capacity crate in blue, with the same footprint as the F40 and F80 crates, 420mm wide, 610mm long, but considerably shallower, at 150mm high. The internal measurements are: height 140mm, width 380mm and length 550mm. Empties stack nested 100 to a pallet, five to a layer, 20 layers high.

The F25 will be available early in the new year. The deposit for the F25 is Si 1 per unit, and will prove cheaper than the purchased carton option.


The Fruit Case Company. P0 Box 583, Auckland. Phone 0-9-573 5773, Fax 0-9-573 5777