Picture, if you will, a clear plastic container, similar to a clamshell but in the approximate shape and size of a 12-ouce drink, can or water bottle, filled with grapes or other fruit, and offered for sale in a vending machine. That describes an innovative new package concept being offered by F-D-S Manufacturing Co. in Pomona, CA.
F-D-S, which also manufactures the more traditional style of clear plastic clamshells for grapes, berries and other products under the brand name Ven-T-Pak has now trademarked the name “Ven-D-Pak” for its new patent-pending “vendable” clamshell, according to President Robert (Bob) Stevenson.
The Ven-D-Pak “is actually supplied flat” and can be rolled around fruit, then snapped closed, Mr. Stevenson told The Produce News July 10. It is suitable for vending in the same vending machines currently existing for dispensing cans of soda or bottles of water.
“We just got that going,” he said. “We have done a few test runs on it. In the future, it will be available in 12, 16 and 20 ounce [sizes]. Right now we’ve got the 12-ounce.”
The word “vendable” is actually a coined word used occasionally in the vending industry to refer to products that are vendible in vending machines. The word “vendible,” by contrast, simply means salable. It often refers to food but not necessarily to vending machines.
F-D-S has been manufacturing grape packaging materials, including such items as the liners and pads that go inside grape boxes, since the company was founded in 1950.
“We still do corrugated liners” that are custom cut “to match the ventilation in the different box designs,” as well as other products such as the paper curtains that are placed over grapes in the box, most commonly when the grapes are in open bags, Mr. Stevenson said.
A major part of the company’s business today is clamshells. For grapes, “we are typically doing one, two, three and four-pound clamshells right now for all the different boxes,” he said. “We are seeing a real push in the one and two-pound clamshells right now. That seems to be different than in the years past” when larger sizes were more in vogue.
“We have done a lot of work on ventilation and fit” and on a design concept that assures a secure closure of the clamshell, he said.
The company also does labeling of clamshells. “We have many labeling machines” with a big-volume capacity, he said, because demand for labeling of clamshells comes in surges.
“We do all of our manufacturing in Pomona,” Mr. Stevenson said. “Everything is made in the U.S.A. We make all of our own tooling, molds and dies.” The company has a 100,000-square-foot warehouse and distribution facility in Fowler, CA, which services most of the grape industry in the Central Valley. The Coachella and Mexico grape industries are serviced from the Pomona location. “We have 16 trucks and trailers that we do most of our delivery with,” he said.