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Safely packaged: wooden packaging in global trade

Germany's commercial fleet alone boasts over 600 container ships. Reliable sea packaging – often made of wood – ensures safe transport, even in times of global crises, such as the current situation in the Middle East. The Federation of Wooden Packaging, Pallets, and Export Packaging (Bundesverband Holzpackmittel, Paletten, Exportverpackung, HPE) explains the standards that must be adhered to for these cargo carriers in global trade.

Well-packaged in the port. Photo: HPE

Approximately 85 percent of global goods transport occurs in wooden packaging. This is because they are stable and designed to meet the specific requirements of the packaged goods and transportation route. These are unbeatable advantages in stormy seas, often encountered by container giants, especially in the Atlantic Ocean. This also applies in light of current political crises. As European shipping companies avoid the Suez Canal due to attacks on merchant ships, container giants are currently taking a long detour around Africa on their way from the Far East to Europe.

The route from the "world's workshops" in China is about 6,000 kilometres longer when ships have to sail around the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa, which is still proverbial due to its often harsh weather. Whether it's imports to Europe or exports of industrial products such as machinery, ensuring goods safely reach their destination often requires individual industrial packaging, known as custom packaging. The standard for custom packaging in Germany is determined by the HPE with its own professional group.

'For high-tech products and other goods, the quality of packaging ensures reliability in foreign trade. And you can recognise this externally when the product safely arrives at the customer and has safely travelled there. Professional industrial packaging plays a key role in this. We make a significant contribution to quality assurance,' emphasises HPE Managing Director Marcus Kirschner.

72 participating companies in Germany
The quality seal "Packaging according to the HPE standard" has existed since 1980 and is now registered as an internationally protected symbol. 'The seal came at the right time because global exchange of goods – as evidenced by the development of the world trading fleet – has steadily increased since the mid-1980s, sometimes with steep growth rates,' emphasises Kirschner. This is evident from figures from the Association of German Shipowners (Verband Deutscher Reeder, VDR). The HPE standard has been continuously developed over the past decades. Today, the HPE Custom Packaging specialist group comprises 72 companies.

'The participating companies stand for individual and secure transport solutions and are expressly committed to using the natural, renewable raw material wood as packaging material,' explains Kirschner. This is necessary, for example, for the export of high-tech machines, which are exported in batch size 1 to important markets such as China. 'There is still high demand there for excellent German engineering, and therefore there is also a need for high-quality export packaging,' explains HPE Managing Director Kirschner. This export is currently also affected by the detour around the Cape. The length of the detour around Africa is approximately equivalent to the length of the North Atlantic route from the North Sea ports to the east coast of America, the busiest sea route in the world.

More information:
Bundesverband Holzpackmittel, Paletten, Exportverpackung

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