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Publication numberUS3761289 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateSep 25, 1973
Filing dateOct 23, 1970
Priority dateOct 23, 1970
Publication numberUS 3761289 A, US 3761289A, US-A-3761289, US3761289 A, US3761289A
InventorsWolf D
Original AssigneeInter Harvest Inc
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Produce package
US 3761289 A
Abstract  available in
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Claims  available in
Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

D. G. WOLF PRODUCE PACKAGE Sept. 25, 1973 2 Sheets-Sheet 1 Filed Oct. 25, 1970 INVENTOR DON/4A0 6. W0F

D. G. WOLF PRODUCE PACKAGE Sept. 25, 1973 2 Sheets-Sheet 2 Filed Oct. 23, 1970 INVENTOR Dav/440 6.14/00C svzMoe/ajaoaeavfmeea froe/veys United States Patent O 3,761,289 PRODUCE PACKAGE Donald G. Wolf, Salinas, Calif., assignor to Inter Harvest, Inc., Salinas, Calif. Filed Oct. 23, 1970, Ser. No. 83,539 Int. Cl. B65b 25/04 US. Cl. 99171 CA 6 Claims ABSTRACT OF THE DISCLOSURE A sheetlike support member includes the produce items integrally related into a package in abutting relation against the major surfaces of the support member by an overwrap. Life sustaining materials are incorporated within the support member structure. The support members can be optionally flat sheet, H-shaped or U-shaped, and the packages being stacked to rest on a support member edge. A further aspect includes incorporating a plurality of such packages within a single overwrap during shipment or storage.

The present invention relates generally to the packaging of produce, and, more particularly, to a packaging technique for head lettuce, celery or the like which includes life sustaining ingredients incorporated within the packaging structure.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION Packages for produce such as head lettuce or the like have conventionally consisted of corrugated cartons in which the lettuce heads are packed in two or three layers with no vertical structural support between the product. In such packages, the outer Walls provide all the structural top to bottom support for the product. Due to high humidity conditions in refrigerated shipment or storage, these outer walls tend to absorb moisture which causes them to be weakened and sometimes to collapse, leaving all the Weight from the packages above resting directly on the produce item contained within.

A number of different approaches have been used in the past for prolonging the life of produce during shipment and storage, such as, for example, providing a pecial preservative atmosphere for the room, chamber or trailer, including the lettuce packages. Also, maintaining of the produce at a lower temperature during shipment and storage is a relatively standard technique and is beneficial. Still further, produce has been treated by special preservative chemicals prior to packaging, or sometimes the chemicals have been loosely arranged within the package. All in all, the past known techniques for using preservative chemicals have not been completely satisfactory.

In the case of providing a gaseous environment, a trailer, freight car or room which is to include the produce must be specially adapted to make it air-tight, then purged of air and furnished with the preservative gas or gases.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION By the practice of one form of the invention, a plurality of heads of lettuce are arranged in a layer on each side of a sheetlike support member with the entire assembly enclosed within a plastic shrink-wrap, paper or fiberboard overwrap, or combination of these materials, to form an integral package. The support member extends on all sides beyond the outermost reaches of the lettuce heads to provide a mounting or supporting marginal edge. A plurality of such packages or package modules may be stacked onto one another in such a pattern that the support members of the upper layers are arranged transversely of the support members of the lower layers. That is, a plurality of packages made in this manner can be stacked on one another by merely placing each of the packages with the corrugated support board arranged vertically and the support board edge margin of each package resting on that of the package immediately below.

A further aspect of the invention is that of incorporating preservative chemicals within the support members. In particular, it is contemplated that a material that absorbs carbon dioxide be disposed within spaces such as the corrugations in support members made of corrugated cardboard, for example, such that the carbon dioxide developed within a package by respiration of the produce will be absorbed and deterioration from this source obviated. Also, soluble nutrient layers are provided on the support members external surfaces and which contact the lettuce butts during packaging for low level feeding while in the package.

A variation of the package module of this invention involves providing a pair of end support members which would be an extension of the support member positioned across or transversely of the end of the main central support forming an overall H support structure, with the entire assembly being enclosed by a plastic sheet, paper, fiberboard or combination of these materials as in the first embodiment.

A still further form of the invention concerns shaping an elongated corrugated sheet into substantially U-form of such dimensions as to permit receipt of several rows of lettuce heads arranged in a single layer therein. The arm portions of the U-shaped support sheet can extend slightly beyond the lettuce heads. A plurality of such U-shaped support members with lettuce heads contained therein can be stacked together in edge contacting relation and collectively enclosed within a plastic bag or sheath.

DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS FIG. 1 is a perspective view of one form of package or package module of the present invention.

FIG. 2 is a greatly enlarged, sectional view of a corrugated support for use in the present invention, with enclosed preservative material.

FIG. 3 depicts an integral package unit constructed of a plurality of package modules of the form shown in FIG. 1.

FIG. 4 is a further form of the module package of this invention, using an H-shaped support.

FIG. 5 is a still further form of the invention including a U-shaped corrugated support member.

FIG. 6 depicts a multiple layer stacking arrangement of package modules of this invention.

DESCRIPTION OF A PREFERRED EMBODIMENT With' reference now particularly to FIG. 1, a packaging arrangement of the present invention, identified generally as at 10, is seen to include a generally rectangular sheetlike member 11 having a pair of major surface areas and a peripheral edge and constructed of a corrugated or other rigid material on each side of which there are arranged a plurality of heads of lettuce. More particularly, the lettuce heads are arranged as a single layer on either side of the support member 11 such that the member edge margins extend to or slightly beyond the lettuce throughout its complete periphery. With the lettuce heads so related to the member 11, an overwrap 12 of plastic, paper, fiberboard, foam plastic, or the like tightly encloses the entire assembly of lettuce heads and member 11 in a pressure exerting relationship to form an integral package or package module. The plastic sheeting may be applied by a technique known as shrink fitting, for example.

With specific reference to FIG. 2, it is seen that in the case of a corrugated member 11, the spaces or flutes are provided with a supply of a solid or pulverulent material 13. For lettuce, the material 13 is one chosen for its ability to absorb carbon dioxide which is produced by lettuce respiration and if allowed to accumulate about the lettuce in too high a concentration will cause so-called russet spotting and otherwise harm the lettuce. A satisfactory material for this purpose is hydrated lime, which can either be incorporated into the corrugated material at the time of its manufacture or be added at a later time. The edges of the member are sealed with an adhesively coated tape 14 to contain the preservative material.

Although absorption of carbon dioxide can be accomplished directly through the sidewall of the support 11, where it is constructed of a material such as cardboard, it may be advisable, when the member is made of a plastic or impregnated fiberboard, for example, to perforate the sidewall at several places to facilitate such absorption.

In a further aspect of the invention, the outer surfaces of the support member sidewalls are coated with a soluble nutrient layer 15 including materials for enhancing plant growth such as sugar and various other trace elements and compounds. The lettuce is packaged in such manner that the lettuce butts are held in contact with nutrient layer 15 whereby fluid exuded at the lettuce butt dissolves the nutrient materials, permitting their ready absorption and utilization by the lettuce.

Turning now to FIG. 3, a plurality of the module lettuce package units 10, either during storage or shipment, are stacked onto one another, with the support members serving as the primary load-bearing elements. That is, a lower layer of such modular packages are arranged with the members 11 of each in an upstanding or vertical position in a predetermined pattern configuration and the next and succeeding layers rest on the upper edges of those members below. In this manner none of the lettuce heads are subjected to direct pressure of the packages above, other than that produced by an adjacent module package leaning against it. By this technique a relatively large number of lettuce heads can be efficiently stacked for storage or shipment in a relatively small space with the primary supporting and protective means being a simple rigid sheetlike member.

Furthermore in this arrangement, the plurality of such module packages 10 is enclosed within a single common restraining structure such as a plastic bag or sheet 16 during shipment or storage. Optionally, the restraining structure may be webbing, netting, strapping or other bulk container.

It is important to note that when the rigid support members 11 are constructed of corrugated cardboard, fiberboard or plastic, the corrugations long dimension should extend vertically with respect to the desired stacking position for a package 10 in order to achieve the optimum supporting strength. That is, as best seen in FIGS. 3 and 4, the supports 11 of the various package modules are all arranged with the corrugation flutes extending parallel to the support direction which is the strongest support mode for such a member.

FIG. 4 depicts a modified form of the invention in which a plurality of lettuce heads are arranged in single layers on each side of a central generally rectangular rigid support sheet 17 of similar construction to support 11. In addition, two end support members 18 and 19, which are an extension of the central support member, are arranged to form a generally H-shaped configuration. The entire assembly is enclosed within a plastic sheet, bag or other overwrap.

A still further form of the invention is that shown in FIG. 5, where each of the containing support means 21 for a module package is generally U-shaped. Thus, each such support means consists of a rigid support member folded to have a relatively elongated cross or base portion 22 and two end portions 23 and 24 extending therefrom, forming the U-shaped structure. As before, the lettuce heads are arranged in a single layer within the support 21, resting with the butts contacting the base portion 22 and the assembly enclosed within a plastic bag or other overwrap 25. When a Corrugated support is used, the

corrugations extend parallel to the plane of the lettuce layer and normal to the open ends of the support, thereby providing the maximum amount of stiffness or support strength for stacking the packages in the manner shown. A plurality of such module packages can be stacked together and enclosed within a single plastic bag 26.

FIG. 6 is a schematic representation of a three-layered stacking arrangement, each layer including five package modules 10. Thus, the lowest layer, layer 1, comprises three parallel, spaced modules 27-29, with two modules 30 and 31 located outwardly of the ends of the modules 27-29 and oriented at -degrees thereto. Layer 2, is a mirror arrangement of layer 1, with the lower edges of modules 27'29' disposed transversely of modules 30, 31, and resting on their upper edges. Modules 30' and 31' similarly rest on 27 and 29. Layer 3, is identically arranged to layer 1 and rests on the upper edges of 27'31' as shown. Although other module stacking configurations can be devised, depending upon the geometry of the available stacking space, in all cases it is essential that the modules rest on their lower support member edges, either directly on the storage chamber floor or on the upper support member edges of the next lower layer of package modules.

Although the support members 11 of this invention have been particularly described herein as having a corrugated construction, such as corrugated cardboard for example, it is contemplated that a number of other constructions would be satisfactory for this purpose. Fiberboard possesses the sufficient strength for package edge supporting in the manner described. Also, corrugated metal sheets or foam plastic sheets may be used where the preservative materials are included in the corrugation spaces or porous vacuoles, as the case may be.

What is claimed is:

1. A package construction for containing a plurality of produce units, comprising:

a rigid platelike support member having two major surface areas and a peripheral edge margin;

said plurality of produce units being arranged in contacting relation with each major surface area of the support member inwardly of the member edge margins; and

a one-piece flexible sheet completely enclosing and in pressure exerting relation with the produce units and support member to secure the same in an integral package module, said support member having a stiffness or strength in a direction from one edge to an opposite edge of said support member suflicient to enable resting and stacking on said one or opposite edge of said support member.

2. A package construction as in claim 1, in which a. mass of soluble nutrients are provided on the support member major surface areas for feeding of the produce units.

3. A package construction as in claim 1, in which a plurality of said package modules are arranged with their respective support members substantially vertically, certain of said modules having their support member lower edges resting on the support member upper edges of certain other modules.

4. A package construction as in claim 1, in which the support member comprises a pair of platelike end supports arranged, respectively, transversely of and in contact with opposite sides of the support members and disposed within said flexible sheet enclosure in an overall H-shape configuration.

5. A package construction as in claim 1, in which the support member carries gas absorption materials for absorbing certain gases generated by produce respiration.

6. A package construction as in claim 5, in which the support member includes a generally rectangular corrugated sheet, the corrugation flutes of which contain a supply of said gas absorbing materials.

(References on following page) 5 References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS Linville 99-171 R Snyder 99-171CAUX 5 Haslacher 99- 171 R Fischer 99-171 CA X Preble 99-154 Royce 229-42 Benoit 229-42 10 Houston 229-42 X Madden et a1. 206-46 FCX Kuchenbecker 229-42UX Stevens 99-171 CA X Blake et a1.

6 9/ 1966 Krzyanowski 206-4533 X FOREIGN PATENTS 7,410 2/1912 England -1 99-171 CA OTHER REFERENCES Fruit & Vegetable Review, August 1956, pp. 21 and 24. Modern Packaging, October 1958, p. 127.

FRANK W. LITTER, Primary Examiner S. L. WEINSTEIN, Assistant Examiner US. Cl. X.R.

99-154, 171 LP; 206-65 S, 46 F, 46 PV; 229-Dig. 12

Referenced by
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U.S. Classification426/118, 206/497, 206/205, 426/74, 206/585, 426/126, 206/499
International ClassificationB65D71/00, A23B7/148, B65D65/40, B65D85/34, A23B7/144, B65D71/10, B65D71/06
Cooperative ClassificationB65D71/10, B65D2571/00049, B65D85/34, A23B7/148, B65D65/403, B65D2571/00018
European ClassificationB65D65/40B, A23B7/148, B65D71/10