WORLDWIDE RESPONSIBILITY News
Berlin, 5 February 2010, 6:00 pm – As the doors of the exhibition halls close behind the last departing trade visitors, our work as volunteers for the “Berliner Tafel” – the Food Bank in Berlin – begins. Some 350 helpers wearing green IFCO vests storm into the deserted halls where Fruit Logistica, the world's leading fresh produce trade show, was in full swing just a few hours earlier. Our job is to collect the fruit and vegetables used at the event for decorative and product information purposes and help distribute this food to the needy in Berlin.
Sparked by enthusiasm, we spread out in groups of up to 30 people in search of fresh food products. We use ladders to reach the pineapples stacked on shelves reaching up to the ceiling and climb up on bar tables to pick the apples from artificial trees or pull heads of cabbage off of long poles.
Not only the 20 children taking part in the action find the exhibition halls to be an adventurous place to discover exotic treasures. The atmosphere is almost like Christmas morning. Laughter can be heard echoing through the cavernous halls as the first green containers are unfolded, filled, and stacked up high ready to be taken to the loading dock.
In the spaciousness of the exhibition halls, what initially appeared to be a relatively meager yield turned out to be a real cornucopia as the 150 tons of fresh fruit and vegetables were loaded into the green IFCO containers. It's an amazing sight to see the plastic containers pulled off the stacks in rapid succession, unfolded, and filled with nutritious food.
Everyone felt a sense of relief when IFCO delivered the 3,500 containers needed for this project right on time and at no cost. The containers make handling much easier and the work goes a lot faster.
"The green containers definitely make our job easier," explains one of the volunteer workers. "They can be stacked to any height and are much sturdier and easier to handle than the cardboard banana cartons we used in the past years."
Time is running. Everything has to be out by 9:00 pm. That's when the crews come in to dismantle the exhibition stands. We're proud of our accomplishment. We collected 150 tons of top-quality fruit and vegetables – enough to fill 29 trucks!
Next stop is the sorting station:
Saturday, 6 February 2010, 10:00 am. The sorting process was started during the night so that perishable products could be loaded up and distributed immediately. Now it's time to break down into smaller groups and inspect each container and separate the "good from the bad".
The pace is hectic – after all, this is a huge amount of fresh produce. Mrs. Werth, President of the Food Bank in Berlin is assigned to the tropical fruit section. The varieties range from snake fruit to passion fruit and other exotics most people have never seen before. This is what makes Fruit Logistica so special. Many of the products are relatively expensive, which means they are a special treat for Berlin's needy. The variety presented at the trade show – not to mention the quantity – cannot be found in any supermarket.
"We are proud of the fact that we managed to match last year's results. The dedication shown by the volunteers is amazing. Some of them have been involved for many years. For others, the trade show action is like an event attended by their friends and family," says Mrs. Werth. "The reusable containers make our work much easier and we are happy that IFCO provided us with a sustainable, environment friendly logistics solution."
During the week, the products from the trade show will be supplied to 300 social projects along with three restaurants for needy children and 45 distribution points.
The efforts of the Food Bank in Berlin with their green containers will remain as a model for us. It's nice to know that we could help.