Peake Fruit* grows, stores, grades and packs English apples and soft fruit. It has been doing that for over 70 years and for nearly half that time it has harvested and stored apples in containers which include some 3,000 Dolav plastic pallet boxes. Now it is adding 5200 more.
According to Peake Fruit managing director, Robert Rendall, "We have had Dolavs for more than thirty years and they are still going strong. That's fantastic. So we see it as a good investment to buy more. They are very well constructed and their long service life is a big factor. That was one of the key drivers for us purchasing Dolavs - we know that they last a long time."
The latest consignment of 1040 new Classic Dolavs perforated are hot die stamped with a logo, a year-letter and 4-digit sequential number. Some Dolavs are two-colour plastic (unique to Dolav) others are single colour. This is the first of the new Dolav deliveries, part of a steady growth in plastic box usage, so soon Peake Fruit will be using some 8,200 plastic Dolav boxes.
Hot Die Stamped Logo
Each year the apple boxes go to the orchards and harvesters fill them with hand-picked apples. They go into a controlled atmosphere store and are stacked 8 bins high, at around 2 degrees C. Thanks to the perforations in the Dolav the apples can 'breath' to absorb oxygen and produce carbon dioxide which is 'scrubbed' out maintaining a perfect long-term storage environment.
Early cropping apples like Discovery and Worcester may be briefly stored before the boxes are re-used in the same season for later varieties like Breaburn or Jonagold. For these, months later the sealed store is opened and they are as fresh as the day they were picked in late summer. Peake Fruit grades and packs apples like Gala and Breaburn for UK supermarkets in the winter months or, for some varieties, supplies them for apple juice production.
Peake Fruit loads each Dolav with 300-320 kilos of apples. Stacked 8 high with a tare weight of only 32 kilos the bottom total bottom weight is only 2816 kilos, well within the Dolav's 4000 kilo bottom stack capability.
Clean plastic vs. wood - is important
"We agonised as it is a lot of money we are spending on plastic Dolavs but the thing for us is the strength and longevity, the easy of cleaning and the weight of the bin is quite light. That helps with harvest, haulage and saving money on fuel," said Robert Rendall.
* Peake Fruit here refers to Peak Fruit Ltd, and its parent company, Boxford (Suffolk) Farms Ltd.