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DS Smith reports “unprecedented 25% surge” in demand for its Octabin packaging amid supersized pumpkin season

#DS Smith reports “unprecedented 25% surge” in demand for its Octabin packaging amid supersized pumpkin season

employee at Hatters Farm in UK putting a pumpkin inside DS Smith's Octabin
All image credits: DS Smith.

26 Oct 2023 — Unpredictable weather patterns have taken an eerie twist in Britain this year, as an unexpected wet summer has given rise to a hauntingly remarkable phenomenon: The emergence of “scarily large pumpkins,” right on cue for Halloween. This extraordinary pumpkin growth has sent ripples through the supply chain, sparking a 25% surge in demand for DS Smith’s specialized Octabins, eight-sided cardboard containers designed to transport these colossal gourds. 

The larger and heavy pumpkins require specialized packaging solutions, for which DS Smith’s Octabins are suited. Designed to withstand weights of up to 1.25 tons and stack up to 85 pumpkins securely, the Octabins are made from recyclable cardboard. Their octagonal shape, less prone to bulging compared to square or cylindrical containers, allows for easier accommodation in trucks and shipping containers.

Joe Coote, pumpkin packaging account manager at DS Smith, explains: “The size of this year’s pumpkins has caused an unprecedented demand for our specialist Halloween pumpkin packaging — our design uses an octagon shape to give it super strength.” 

“We’re in a race against the clock to get our Octabins bins to growers and retailers who have only recently realized they need extra storage for their giant pumpkins, and we are the only company in the UK who can turn around spookily-printed packaging in such large numbers, at speed, that is strong enough for these heavy crops.” 

In the past two weeks alone, DS Smith has been inundated with orders, having to produce and deliver tens of thousands more Octabins for retailers. “It’s been a phenomenal season for us, and we have loved helping to get the UK’s pumpkins to where they need to be,” Coote adds.

The company estimates packaging over 11 million pumpkins in 126,000 Octabins in the UK this year.

DS Smith Octabin for pumpkin packagingDS Smith estimates packaging over 11 million pumpkins in 126,000 Octabins this year.Optimizing pumpkin supply chain
The Octabin intermediate bulk containers provide a cost-effective packing alternative to transporting products in sacks or smaller containers, details DS Smith. Made from an octagonal sleeve in triple or double-wall cardboard, combined with a cap and a bottom, the packaging solution can help optimize the supply cycle by providing easy access to goods and reducing packaging material, labor and shipping costs.

Ross McGowan, a pumpkin grower at Hatter’s farm in Essex, UK, voices the challenges faced by farmers this year: “The summer rainfall has produced massive pumpkins but also pushed back the harvest window to make it one of the tightest ever. Plus,  this year’s pumpkin harvest has been the biggest we’ve ever experienced — some pumpkins are weighing in at 25 kilos.” 

“When they’re that big, what they’re stored or transported in can become an issue and the last bins I used were hopeless and couldn’t hold the weight to be double stacked. As a pumpkin farmer, you need something incredibly robust, but at Hatter’s Farm, we also want something sustainable as that’s important to us and the families that visit us.” 

Meanwhile, UK retailer Tesco shares that it is “bracing itself for strong demand” when this season’s crop of pumpkins goes on sale. Tesco’s pumpkin supplier, one of Europe’s biggest suppliers of pumpkins, growing around five million each year, Oakley Farms, also celebrated the surge in pumpkin growth.

Steve Whitworth, commercial manager at Oakley Farms, says: “We had a pretty good growing season for pumpkins this summer with a really hot June, which helped the plants along. The rainy July and August may not have been great for sun lovers or BBQ fans, but it was perfect from a growing point of view for pumpkins.”

DS Smith reports that “as supermarkets stock up on the giant gourds, larger pumpkins have presented new challenges for the whole supply chain.”

“Shipping of the UK’s pumpkin harvest is a short but intense period, which can start as early as the end of August, however 2023’s wet summer pushed back this year’s harvest. This unusually tight window meant growers have been rushing to ensure that the harvest makes it from farms to supermarkets safely.”

“Designed for home and export use, our Octabins are typically made to suit 1140 x 1140 or 1200 x 1000 pallets but can be produced to suit all standard chemical pallet sizes or any other size,” says the company.

By Radhika Sikaria

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