Why does Aldi drive packaging Innovation?

Why does Aldi drive packaging Innovation?

Since ALDI opened its first store in Australia in 2001, it has been an innovator and leader in the use of reusable packaging. ALDI’s innovative approach has been recognised by the Australian Retailers Association, and in 2009 ALDI was named ‘Retail Innovator of the Year’.

The retailer introduced the concept of one-touch display pallets, used by its European counterparts for fast moving items, to Australia. For many years ALDI ran its own display pallet pool, but in 2009 asked CHEP to step in. The move coincided with the introduction of the Multi-Purpose Beverage Tray.

ALDI Australia Logistics Director, Shane Hafiz says: “ALDI is a hard discounter – so in terms of packaging we are looking for one touch which makes it more efficient. We have many fast moving lines which come in on display pallets, for us that’s one touch, which means the product comes in, is stored for a very short period of time and then would go straight to store.

In terms of pooling equipment, we don’t see it as our core function. CHEP has the expertise to manage the equipment; they have the understanding and the background in how to have the right equipment at the right place at the right time; that’s what they specialise in. We’ve worked very closely together to come up with solutions for the display pallets, the beverage tray and the produce crate.”

Beverage supply chain

In the late 2000s, ALDI Australia challenged CHEP to develop an innovative one-touch solution to move beverages through the supply chain. The result was the Multi-Purpose Beverage Tray launched in 2010 which integrates with the Display Pallet to become a supply chain solution.

ALDI’s beverage manufacturers pack straight from their production line into the beverage trays, which stack five high and two across on a display pallet. The stack is then strapped and moves through the supply chain. When it arrives at the ALDI distribution centre dock, it is already ‘shopper ready’. It moves straight across the warehouse without being picked or packed and is sent direct to retail stores.

“We wanted a customer-ready merchandising solution,” Mr Hafiz says. “We went to CHEP and asked what solutions they could come up with. CHEP had an idea of what they thought the market was looking for as a solution. At that point in time it was driven by both parties.”

The Multi-Purpose Beverage Tray and Display Pallet retail-ready solution was, and still is, unique to Australia and has since been embraced by a number of retailers. The solution has received wide recognition, being Highly Commended in the NSW Government’s 2012 Green Globe Awards and named a finalist in the 2012 Banksia Awards.

Fresh produce supply chain

Innovative thinking gave birth to the Multi-Purpose Beverage Tray which has been a hallmark of the collaboration between ALDI and CHEP Australia.

In July 2013, ALDI will be the first Australian retailer to introduce CHEP’s Generation 3 foldable reusable plastic crate (RPC) to its fresh produce supply chain.

The Gen 3 crate will replace a swing bar crate currently used to transport produce from farm gate to store loading dock.

The Gen 3 is a superior crate for many reasons, providing improved product protection, stability and space utilisation compared to the swing bar crate. It cools produce faster and more consistently, and allows uniform temperature control during storage and transport.

The roll out of the lift-lock Gen 3 crate will start in Queensland and spread to the other eastern seaboard states in late 2013.

Always innovating

Looking ahead to innovations in the pipeline Mr Hafiz says: “We are always exploring the market for what’s available. You have to be aware of what the needs are now and in the future. You want to understand the market and there are so many options out there you have to really understand each one. We like to drive innovation because we want to make sure we have an efficient supply chain.”