“We are young in the US and Canada but are bringing decades of experience in manufacturing and implementing full packaging lines for fruits and vegetables,” says Joost Somford, CCO of JASA Packaging Solutions.
JASA Packaging Solutions was founded almost 40 years ago and specializes in the manufacture of complete weighing and packaging lines for the fruit and vegetable sector. The company started by manufacturing vertical packing systems and smaller equipment but quickly decided to go big after receiving numerous requests for full weighing and packaging lines.
JASA has a strong presence in the Netherlands and had begun exporting its equipment internationally already in the early 90s. The company began exporting full projects a decade ago and, in 2018, Joost and his family moved to Richmond, Virginia, to build the US office for JASA, where they focused primarily on leafy greens. After four years and once the US office was up and running, Joost and his family relocated to British Columbia to continue the company’s expansion in North America.
“JASA Packaging Solutions is still pretty young in the United States, but with 40 years in business, we have lots of experience and know how to build reliable equipment and complete projects,” explains Joost. “We want to be involved in the design of your packaging system at an early stage so that we can assist in designing the packing rooms, providing a level of customer service that most companies do not.”
Europe, Canada, and the United States: Is it all the same for packaging?
Having implemented packaging solutions in both Europe and North America, Joost elaborated on the major differences between the two markets. Overall, he notes that the markets are all interested in sustainable packaging but sees that big investments are being made in Europe at this time. While eco-friendly options are gaining traction in North America, this push is coming mostly from packaging companies and individual marketers rather than supermarkets.
“From the day we arrived, we brought our sustainable solutions like cardboard trays and sleeves. When we presented these to supermarkets, they were intrigued but ultimately weren’t ready to make the change,” says Joost.
He also notes that a major packaging challenge in the US and Canada are the differing regulations between the countries, states, and provinces, respectively. What is accepted in one place may not be accepted in another. Package sizing also varies between the European and North American markets, with 16-ounce trays of leafy greens being more common in North America although there is now a movement towards smaller, bagged options.
Perhaps the most shocking trend Joost noticed upon moving to North America was the way that consumers inspect their produce at the grocery store, looking for the best product. As Joost explains, you would be looked at quizzically if you did the same thing in Europe as you do not need to inspect the product – its quality is good mainly because of short transfer times. This, Joost notes, is different compared to the excessive distances produce travels to reach North American consumers.
Fast and reliable service from US-based crews
While JASA Packaging Solutions are manufactured in-house in Europe, the company has its own crews in the US who handle installations and services to ensure that clients get fast and reliable service and that any downtime is kept to an absolute minimum. No need to call in a team from the Netherlands – help is on the way!
Since JASA’s introduction to Canada, JASA has been adding customers in British Columbia as well as in the Leamington region. The company is looking forward to showcasing its systems at the Canadian Greenhouse Conference (Oct 4-5), the Global Produce & Floral Show in Anaheim (October 19-21), and the Indoor Ag-Con CEA Summit East (Oct 25-26) in 2023.