Polymer technology should deter bakery tray theft, says developer

By Kacey Culliney

- Last updated on GMT

Bakery tray theft can cost industrial bakers around $500,000 each year, the ABA says
Bakery tray theft can cost industrial bakers around $500,000 each year, the ABA says

Related tags Baker Bakery

Traceable polymer additives and those that create subtle defects in plastic bakery trays should clamp down on the huge and costly issue of theft, their developer says.

UK technical plastics specialist Luxus has developed two polymer additives for use in bakery trays that it says should work to deter crime.

One additive creates subtle color defects in the material – making it less appealing for secondary use - and the other is chemically traceable, enabling bread makers to pinpoint stolen material.

“For the bakery industry as a whole, tray theft is a huge issue,”​ said James Ballantyne, sales manager at Luxus.

“When you have an issue for the bakery industry where they are losing in excess of 50% transit packaging to theft, it is a huge issue and one worth investing in,”​ Ballantyne told BakeryandSnacks.com.

“Individual bakeries can be incurring more than six figures in costs due to bakery tray theft which justifies the investment,”​ he added.

A global criminal and costly issue

According to The American Bakers Association (ABA), in major US metro areas loss of plastic delivery and storage containers to theft can be as high as 60%, with costs totting up to $500,000 a year for the average industrial baker.

UK bakery alliance Bakers Basco estimates that tray replacement rates in the UK are typically well above 40% for bakery manufacturers.

Luxus’ major UK bakery client Allied Bakeries has trialed the new polymer additives and plans to roll out use later this year.

Jacqui Cahill, supply chain director at Allied Bakeries, said: “Baskets are used throughout our supply chain to deliver our bread and bakery products, and we incur enormous costs in replacing those that go missing during the process… We welcome efforts being made by suppliers, such as Luxus, to tackle this industry-wide issue.”

‘You’ll never stamp out crime’

Plastic bakery trays are an attractive product, Ballantyne said, because they are usually made with a good crate-grade of polypropylene.

“They are consistent in color and material specification. It’s a high quality basket and therefore desirable for theft,”​ he said.

The two additives developed by Luxus are separate products but would work best in combination to deter theft, he said.

“You’ll never stamp out crime but you can try to reduce it…You can make the material more traceable and less appealing.”

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