Bulletin 560 April 1955
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
AGRICULTURAL EXPERIMENT STATIONS
WILLARD M. FIFIELD, Director
Biological Sciences Branch, Agricultural Marketing Service,
United States Department of Agriculture,
Washington, D. C.
Containers for Shipping Florida Tomatoes
L. H. HALSEY, L. P. MCCOLLOCH, A. H. SPURLOCK
and R. K. SHOWALTER
Single copies free to Florida residents upon request to
AGRICULTURAL EXPERIMENT STATION
INTRODUCTION ........... ... ....... .............3
PRELIMINARY TRUCK SHIPMENTS .......-........- --........... -- ......- ........ 4
TRUCK AND RAIL SHIPPING TESTS, 1949-51 ........-......-...-- ...................- 6
Source of Fruit and Handling Prior to Packing and Shipping .......... 6
Types of Container and Packing Methods .....................----...........-- 6
Method of Loading and Types of Injury .......-.......... .--..........---- ..... 10
Conditions During Transit -----..---------.........- ........--.......... 12
Results of Shipping Tests ...........-...-----. ...-- ---...-- .. ..---14
SIMULATED TRANSIT TESTS ..... ----------...........----------- ----........ 17
Materials and Methods -------....... ---------- ............---- .... --- 17
Results ... ...----------..... .- .----.-....----.... ..-- ....-... .. ............................ 20
COSTS OF PACKING TOMATOES, BY TYPE OF CONTAINER, 1950-51 SEASON .... 22
EVALUATION OF SHIPPING CONTAINERS .................------.....- ........... .. 29
SUMMARY ----... ........ ---- --------------------.................... -............. 30
Fig. 1.-Thirty-pound lug box, place-packed with paper-wrapped tomatoes.
Containers for Shipping Florida Tomatoes'
L. H. HALSEY,2 L. P. MCCOLLOCH,3 A. H. SPURLOCK 4
and R. K. SHOWALTER 5
Until a decade ago the 30-pound lug box was the standard
container for shipping Florida mature-green tomatoes by rail.
With the development of the large terminal market industry
for ripening tomatoes and repacking them in consumer pack-
ages and the increase in truck transportation, several new
types of bulk containers were introduced. One of the first bulk
containers to gain wide use was the field box of about 60-
pound capacity. Its popularity resulted from the fact that it
was easier to fill and empty and therefore cheaper to handle
than the lidded lug boxes. Empty field boxes could be returned
to the shipping point for re-use; thus prorated over a long
enough period, the cost of the container would be considerably
reduced. While the field box has proved satisfactory to many
receivers, it has certain disadvantages. At times it is advan-
tageous to the receiver to purchase tomatoes at shipping points
other than those to which his boxes are returned. Many boxes
are lost and this loss reduces their economy.
Because of these and other factors, a number of types of
shipping container not designed for re-use have been intro-
duced in an effort to reduce costs of handling below those for
lug boxes. The trend has been toward containers holding from
40 to 60 pounds of jumble-packed tomatoes without paper
wraps. Because mature-green tomatoes are firm when packed
and shipped, not enough attention is given to the effects of
containers and rough handling practices on bruising and scar-
ring, which result in considerable deterioration in quality dur-
ing transit and ripening.
1 This report covers one phase of the Southern Regional Tomato Market-
ing Project, SM-3, carried on under the Research and Marketing Act of
Department of Horticulture, Florida Agricultural Experiment Station,
"I Biological Sciences Branch, Agricultural Marketing Service, U. S.
Department of Agriculture, Beltsville, Maryland.
SDepartment of Agricultural Economics, Florida Agricultural Experi-
ment Station, Gainesvile, Florida.
"Department of Horticulture, Florida Agricultural Experiment Station,
4 Florida Agricultural Experiment Stations
A study of tomato containers was initiated in 1948 by the
Florida Agricultural Experiment Station and the U. S. Depart-
ment of Agriculture, in cooperation with growers, shippers,
receivers, truckers, railroads, container manufacturers, the
Florida State Farmers' Markets and others. The work was
divided into parts: (1) shipping tests to study handling methods
and to compare the relative value of the standard 30-pound lug
box and other types of container; (2) economic studies to com-
pare the packing costs of different types of container.
Preliminary data on types of transit injury and commercial
shipping practices were obtained on five truck shipments of
tomatoes in 1948. In 1949, 1950 and 1951 detailed information
was obtained on 10 test shipments by truck, two by rail and
eight by simulated rail transit under laboratory conditions.
Additional tests with several types of container in the same
load would have been desirable, but only a limited number of
tests were possible because of their nature and the time re-
quired to obtain the data.
Costs of packing tomatoes were based on records of 13 firms
owning 16 packinghouses (three of the firms owned two pack-
inghouses each) for one season's operation. This was roughly
one-third of the number of packinghouses in the state, and they
accounted for more than one-third of the volume packed in
PRELIMINARY TRUCK SHIPMENTS
In the absence of loading regulations, many truck operators
began transporting tomatoes by merely filling their semi-trail-
ers to maximum capacity with one or more types of container
without regard to loading method or temperature control. In
1948 data were obtained on a few types of containers and on
loading practices in five commercial truck shipments to deter-
mine what specific injuries were related to containers and
whether loading or other factors needed critical study. From
these preliminary studies it was found that three types of
mechanical injury (pressure-bruising, crushing and box-rub-
bing) were related to containers during transit and handling
and that improvements in loading and cooling practices were
needed. The findings of the preliminary tests formed the basis
for the uniform method of taking the data in 1949, 1950 and
Containers for Shipping Florida Tomatoes 5
Fig. 2.-Orchard-type field box without liner or lid, jumble-filled
Fig. 3.-Long type field box without liner or lid, jumble-filled
6 Florida Agricultural Experiment Stations
TRUCK AND RAIL SHIPPING TESTS, 1949-51
SOURCE OF FRUIT AND HANDLING PRIOR TO PACKING
During 1949, 1950 and 1951 shipping tests were made from
Florida to terminal markets in Washington-Baltimore and Pitts-
burgh areas. The tests were made from December to June
and originated in the various production areas of Florida in
order to include tomatoes grown under different climatic con-
ditions and production methods. The tomatoes were obtained
from the regular commercial harvests after they had been
hauled to the packinghouse and waxed, graded and sized.
The fruits included in the various containers of any one test
shipment were obtained from the same field, were of the same
general size and grade, and were handled as nearly alike as
possible in the packinghouse so that differences in injury dur-
ing transit could be attributed to the containers. Detailed
records were made on production practices used in growing
the tomatoes, weather conditions, number of harvests, condition
of the plants and other factors which might be of value in
explaining any unusual conditions of the tomatoes after ship-
ping and ripening. Limitations imposed by the nature of the
work made large-scale testing virtually impossible.
TYPES OF CONTAINER AND PACKING METHODS
The 30-pound lug box (61/4 x 131/4 x 151/" inside dimensions)
place-packed with paper-wrapped tomatoes was used as a stand-
ard for comparison with other containers in these experiments
(Figure 1). The rough shook and protruding staples used in
its construction and the high bulging lid were characteristic
of the standard unlined lug box used in Florida.
At the time of these tests both the orchard-type (123/1 x 14 x
161/2") and the long-type (11 x 11 x 22") field boxes (Figures
2 and 3) were readily accepted by the industry for truck ship-
ment. They were made of heavy, finished lumber with a cleat
across the top of the ends, reinforced by metal strips. They
were used without protective inner liners, but heavy paper
pads were sometimes placed over the top of the jumble-packed
In 1949 many 60-pound wirebound, Tomato-All-Bound (TAB)
boxes (11 15/16 x 11 15/16 x 18 3/,"), were used for shipping
Containers for Shipping Florida Tomatoes 7
tomatoes by truck and rail from Florida (Figure 4). They
were made of rough veneer slats held in place by wire. The
box was not rigid but was lidded and the jumble-packed toma-
toes were protected on all sides by a ventilated heavy paper
Fig. 4.-Wirebound, Tomato-All-Bound (TAB) box with all surfaces
lined, jumble-filled with tomatoes.
The 60-pound lidded nailed box (12 x 12 x 18%/") was intro-
duced in 1950 as the search continued for the ideal bulk con-
tainer (Figure 5). It was similar to the wirebound (TAB) box
but was more rigid and was nailed together. The nailed box
did not have wire reinforcement. The jumple-packed, non-
wrapped fruits were protected by a ventilated heavy paper liner
on all surfaces.
8 Florida Agricultural Experiment Stations
The 34-pound wirebound (small spartan) box (81/ x 10 x
171/2", similar to spartan peach box, but smaller) was included
in some of the test shipments in 1950 (Figure 6). It was made
of rough shook with removable top and bottom and had a venti-
lated, heavy paper liner around the sides and ends and corru-
gated pads on top and bottom.
Fig. 5.-Nailed box with all surfaces lined, jumble-filled with tomatoes.
The 60-pound fiberboard box (12 x 12 x 183/1") was included
in two experimental shipments in 1950 (Figure 7). The boxes
were made of wet-strength corrugated paper with smooth sur-
faces and required no liners. Those used in the tests were
jumble-packed and not lidded, but lids were soon added when
they were used commercially.
Fig. 6.-34-pound wirebound (small spartan) box with all surfaces lined,
jumble-filled with tomatoes.
Fig. 7.-Fiberboard box (60-pounds) (used without lids in these tests, but
normally lidded in commercial shipments), jumble-filled with tomatoes.
10 Florida Agricultural Experiment Stations
METHOD OF LOADING AND TYPES OF INJURY
One tier of each type of container used in any one test was
loaded across a truck or rail car which contained an otherwise
commercial load. Test containers were usually located near
the middle of the truck from front to rear or in the quarter-
length position in the rail cars. They were arranged to main-
tain as tight a load as possible without disrupting the air chan-
nels of the main part of the load. The number of containers
in a tier varied according to type of box. Thus if one type of
Fig. 8.-Pressure-bruising injury on tomatoes, showing depression caused
by crushing of internal tissues.
Containers for Shipping Florida Tomatoes 11
box was loaded seven across and five high, there were 35 boxes
of that type. Terminal market cooperators met the shipments
and made records of the condition of the load and the test
packages on arrival.
Four or five containers (the number required to make a com-
plete stack from top to bottom of the load) of each type in-
cluded in each test were removed at destination, where each
fruit was examined for mechanical injury. The numbers of
ripe fruits and of decayed fruits were also determined upon
arrival and at three-day intervals until ripening was complete.
Fig. 9.-Box-rubbing injury of tomatoes, consisting of discoloration and
flattening of affected areas.
12 Florida Agricultural Experiment Stations
The values are averages for all containers of any one type in
all test shipments.
Only injuries which resulted from lidding, loading, shipping
and unloading were considered. They were classified as crush-
ing, pressure-bruising and box-rubbing. Crushed fruits were
broken open by pressure, usually due to lidding of over-filled
containers or shifting of unlidded containers so that the boxes
rested on the tomatoes. Pressure-bruising (Figure 8) occurred
during handling and shipping. It was characterized by sharply
sunken or seriously flattened areas in which the internal tissues
were crushed. Serious damage caused off-flavors in the ripened
tomatoes. Pressure-bruises were counted only when serious
enough to affect ripening and quality. Box-rubbing injury (Fig-
ure 9) was characterized by one or more small areas on the
fruits that were chafed, discolored and usually flattened. The
injury was caused by rubbing and pressing of the fruits against
the surfaces of the container during transit. Bruised and
crushed tomatoes were considered unmarketable. Those with
box-rubbing injury were not considered a total loss because they
could have been sold at a discount.
CONDITIONS DURING TRANSIT
In most of the experimental shipments the air temperatures
in the test containers during the transit period were measured
with recording thermometers. Differences in temperature due
to type of container were quite small, but considerable differ-
ences in temperature resulted from variations in refrigeration
and loading practices.6 The practice of traveling at night with
ventilators open or with fans operating, but no refrigeration
during mild weather, usually resulted in an increase in load
temperatures. In general, trucks that were iced and had a fan
in operation failed to cool the middle of the load sufficiently
when the boxes were loaded without air channels. The ineffec-
tiveness of trying to cool a load with vents open and a blower
operating was demonstrated by a 1951 truck test which left
Homestead, Florida, properly loaded but with no refrigeration for
200 miles. The temperature of the tomatoes averaged 750 F.
at the time of departure arid had increased to nearly 80 when
6 The Biological Sciences Branch, U. S. Department of Agriculture, is
conducting further shipping tests such as reported by W. T. Pentzer. Re-
frigeration of Fruits and Vegetables from Field to Prepackager. Pre-Pack-
Age 4: 13-16, 1951.
S1 DAY 2 DAYS 3 DAYS 4 DAYS 5 DAYS
A PM MM M A. MP P M. A. A- A. A M *.
/1A.M., P.M. A'M P .1 A M*. M A. PM. I .. .P. ..* P.*M.
M. P. A.M. PA AM. M P.M. *M *M M A*. M P
M. P. MM'. PA M PM'. I. MM.
16 17 18 19 20
Fig. 10.-Temperature records at three locations in a truck shipment
of tomatoes from Homestead, Florida, to Washington, D. C., in April 1951.
Truck departed with vents open and fans operating, but with no refrigera-
tion for 200 miles. Note increase in temperature until bunker was filled
with 2,400 pounds of ice.
14 Florida Agricultural Experiment Stations
the bunker was filled with 2,400 pounds of ice and the vents
were closed (Figure 10). With continued icing (6,400 pounds)
the load was cooled satisfactorily upon arrival at Washington,
D. C. The top of the load cooled the fastest and the tempera-
ture of the tomatoes was 56 at destination. The middle and
bottom of the load averaged only one degree higher. Between
1948 and 1951 improvements were made in truck-loading pat-
terns, ventilation and refrigeration, but further improvement
It was shown by data obtained at terminal markets, not re-
ported here, that temperatures resulting from the failure to
remove field heat during transit stimulated undesirably rapid
ripening and favored the development of certain kinds of decay.
Decay resulting from high temperatures exceeded that due to
types of container. Fruits ripening at high temperatures were
poorly colored, soft and easily bruised. Temperatures of 500
to 650 F. during transit were found most satisfactory. In that
temperature range the fruits were not overripe or soft on ar-
rival and pressure-bruising was reduced.
RESULTS OF SHIPPING TESTS
In each truck shipment in March, April and May 1949 three
types of container were compared. The average percentages
of the types of mechanical injury, total decay and marketable
tomatoes are shown in Table 1.
Mechanical injuries to the tomatoes during shipping and
handling were related to the container surface in contact with
the fruits and the amount of pressure on them. Extreme pres-
sure resulted in crushing of the fruits. Less pressure forced
the tomatoes against one another or against the container and
caused pressure-bruising. Tomatoes pressed and rubbed against
the surface of the container during transit developed flattened,
chafed areas classed as box-rubbing injury.
Comparisons of the data obtained in 1949 on the lug, field
and wirebound (TAB) boxes (Table 1) show only slight varia-
tions in amount of pressure-bruising. Less than 1 percent of
the fruits were crushed during transit in all tests and all con-
tainers. More fruits were damaged in high-bulged lug boxes
and in field boxes than in lidded, lined wirebound (TAB) boxes.
Wirebound (TAB) boxes with heavy paper liners gave better
protection against box-rubbing injury than lug boxes and paper
wrappers or unlined field boxes. An over-all evaluation of the
TABLE 1.-MECHANICALLY INJURED, DECAYED AND MARKETABLE TOMATOES, IN DIFFERENT TYPES OF CONTAINER, SHIPPED IN
TRUCKS FROM FLORIDA TO NORTHERN MARKETS, 1949, 1950 AND 1951.*
Net Weight of Fruits
Test at End of Transit Fruits in Indicated Condition
Year and Type Ship- Period ___
of Container ments Free of Pressure- Box- Total Market-
STotal Injury I bruised Crushed rubbed Injured Decayed able**:
Number Pounds Pounds Percent Percent Percent Percent Percent |Percent
Lug box ........ ..... 4 33.5 30.3 3.1 0.5 6.0 9.6 (;.8 89.(;
Field box .............. 4 61.0 55.6 3.1 0.3 5.5 8.9 4.3 92.3
box ..................... 4 62.2 59.0 2.7 0.1 2.4 5.2 3.9 93.3
1950 and 1951
Lug box .................. 5 34.6 31.6 0.8 0.6 7.3 8.'I 4.3 94.3
Field box ............ 4 63.6 53.8 2.0 0.7 12.7t 15.4 5.4 91.9
box .................... 2 62.9 61.2 2.3 0.0 0.4 2.7 2.8 94.9
Nailed box ........... 5 62.8 60.8 2.3 0.2 0.7 3.2 2.8 94.7
Fiberboard box ... 2 63.3 60.3 4.0 0.5 0.3 4.8 3.4 92.1
Small spartan box .. 2 35.0 34.2 0.3 0.1 1.9 2.3 2.4 97.2
Values are averages from all test boxes of any one type in all test shipments.
** Includes tomatoes having box-rubbing injury (considered marketable but reduced in salability) and all other tomatoes not pressure-bruised,
crushed or decayed.
"t The box-rubbed fruits averaged only 7.5 percent when the one test shipment which developed slack was not included.
16 Florida Agricultural Experiment Stations
containers can be made by comparing the percentages of total
From January through May 1950 and in April 1951 five
shipping tests by truck and two by rail were made from five
shipping points in Florida to Northern markets. The data were
obtained and are reported in the same manner as in 1949, with
emphasis on the relation between the different types of con-
tainer and the amounts of pressure-bruising, crushing and box-
Comparisons of the data obtained on the lug, field, wire-
bound (TAB), nailed, fiberboard and small spartan boxes show
some interesting differences in amounts of mechanical injury.
The reduction in pressure-bruised fruits in the lug boxes below
that found in 1949 was most likely due to the fact that the
high-bulged lugs were transported on their sides. Pressure-
bruising, while not extensive, was worse on fruits in the con-
tainers holding approximately 60 pounds than in the small
spartan box, which had a capacity of about 34 pounds. Crushed
fruits averaged less than 1 percent in each container. Lined,
lidded containers had the least crushed fruits. Fruits in lined
boxes and in smooth-surfaced fiberboard boxes had strikingly
less box-rubbing injury than those in unlined field boxes or
paper-wrapped in lug boxes.
Markedly more box-rubbing injury was found in lug boxes
and in unlined field boxes than in lined nailed and lined small
spartan boxes in one test truck shipment in which slack de-
veloped in the load. Box-rubbing injury amounted to 18.4
percent in lug boxes and 27.9 percent in field boxes, compared
with only 3.3 percent in the nailed boxes and 1.5 percent in
the small spartan boxes. The effectiveness of the container
liner was further demonstrated in a truck test, not reported
in the table, in which the average box-rubbing injury in small
spartan boxes amounted to 23.9 percent in those without liners,
compared with only 5.4 percent in those with liners.
Field, nailed and wirebound (TAB) boxes were compared
with lug boxes in two rail shipments. These tests were loaded
in the same way as those in trucks, with one tier of each type
of container across the car. The average percentages of the
three types of mechanical injury, the total decay, and the
marketable tomatoes are shown in Table 2. Pressure-bruising
was worse in the rail tests than in the truck tests. The transit
time was longer by rail than by truck and neither car was
Containers for Shipping Florida Tomatoes 17
unloaded promptly. Thus a higher percentage of the fruits
were ripe on arrival. This accounts in some measure for the
increase in pressure-bruising. The lug boxes were secured by
double strips in the cars, and there was less box-rubbing injury
than in those shipped by trucks. Box-rubbing injury was
worse on fruits in field boxes shipped by rail than on those
shipped by properly-loaded trucks. The higher box-rubbing
value of 12.7 percent for the field box in the 1950 and 1951
tests by truck, compared with the 5.5 percent in 1949 (Table 1),
was influenced considerably by the 27.9 percent box-rubbing
in one truck shipment in which slack developed. The box-
rubbing in the other three test shipments in 1950 and 1951
averaged 7.5 percent. The heavy paper liners in the wirebound
(TAB) and nailed boxes did not protect tomatoes against box-
rubbing injury as effectively when they were shipped by rail
as when they were shipped by truck.
SIMULATED TRANSIT TESTS
MATERIALS AND METHODS
To eliminate many variables in evaluating tomato containers
used in commercial shipments, simulated shipping tests were
made in 1951 under controlled laboratory conditions. An appa-
ratus which simulated the vibrations and shocks normally occur-
ring in rail cars was constructed (Figures 11 and 12). It
consisted of a 68 x 24" platform, mounted on four steel wheels,
with end supports to permit loading the various types of boxes
three, four or five high, according to commercial practice. The
simulator car moved back and forth, 15 times per minute, on
two steel rails. Two steel cleats 3/16" high were welded to
each rail so that the front and rear wheels would each receive
one jolt for each trip of the car. The speed of 30 trips per
minute was found to produce approximately the same per-
centage of injured tomatoes as actual rail shipments.
Eight replicated tests, in which there were 146 containers
of tomatoes, were made between January and June under the
following controlled conditions: The room temperature was
maintained at 60 F. and the relative humidity at 80 to 85 per-
cent. Only sound, medium-size, mature-green fruits were packed
in the test containers. Each type of container was packed with
a uniform number of pounds of tomatoes. As ripeness affects
certain transit injuries, the tests were extended over a normal
in controlled temperature and humidity room.
Fig. 12.-Transit simulator loaded with (1) nailed, (2) field, (3)
wrapped-and-packed lug, (4) wirebound (TAB) and (5) face-and-fill lug
boxes (left to right).
== 2 Z
Containers for Shipping Florida Tomatoes 19
shipping period of four days to allow for the usual amount of
ripening. At the end of the simulated transit period the toma-
toes were examined for injuries and moved to the ripening room
maintained at 700 and a relative humidity of 80 to 85 percent.
All tomatoes were inspected at three-day intervals for ripen-
ing and decay.
Fig. 13.-Faced-and-filled lug box, jumble-filled with tomatoes after first
layer was faced against the lid. (Box inverted for filling).
Field, wirebound (TAB) and nailed boxes were compared
with the standard lug box in all eight tests, and small wirebound
(spartan) boxes were included in four tests. Some informa-
tion was obtained on the face-and-fill lug box and the 40-pound
fiberboard box, which were included in two of the simulated
shipments. The face-and-fill lug box (61/3 x 131/ x 151/") had
a liner around the sides, top and bottom. The tomatoes were
not wrapped and were jumble-packed except for the place-
packed face or top layer (Figure 13). This lug box was packed
with less bulge than the standard lug box and had an average
net weight of 32 pounds, compared with approximately 34
pounds for the standard lug box. The 40-pound fiberboard
20 Florida Agricultural Experiment Stations
box (8 x 12 x 19") made of wet-strength corrugated paper with
a middle partition and a lid fastened with metal clips (Figure
14) was a jumble-packed container introduced in 1951.
Fig. 14.-Fiberboard box (40 pounds), jumble-filled with tomatoes.
The percentages of injured tomatoes under controlled condi-
tions (Table 2) were approximately the same as those obtained
for the four types of container included in the actual rail tests
in 1950. The principal differences were the increased box-rub-
bing injury in the field boxes and the larger amount of pressure-
bruising in the standard lugs. Box-rubbing injury in the field
boxes ranged from 10 to 32 percent in the eight tests and was
significantly higher than in the other containers. This injury
was particularly high in the top box with nothing to prevent
movement of the fruit.
TABLE 2.-MECHANICALLY INJURED, DECAYED AND MARKETABLE TOMATOES, IN DIFFERENT TYPES OF CONTAINER, SHIPPED
IN RAIL CARS FROM FLORIDA TO NORTHERN MARKETS IN 1950 AND ON THE TRANSIT SIMULATOR IN 1951.*
Net Weight of Fruits
at End of Transit Fruits in Indicated Condition
Kind of Test and Tests Period
Type of Container Free of Pressure- Box- Total Market-
Total Injury bruised Crushed rubbed Injured Decayed able **N
Number Pounds Pounds Percent Percent Percent Percent Percent Percent
Lug box .................... 2 33.6 30.4 5.3 0.1 4.1 9.5 1.2 93.4 DQ
Field box ............... 2 60.7 50.3 6.2 0.0 11.0 17.2 1.2 92.6
box .......--....- 2 63.2 55.0 7.6 0.0 5.4 13.0 1.7 90.7
Nailed box ............ 2 61.4 54.3 6.4 0.2 5.0 11.6 1.1 92.3
Lug box .............. 8 34.1 30.6 8.2 0.0 2.0 10.2 2.7 89.1
Field box ................ 8 61.8 44.2 7.6 0.0 20.8 28.4 3.1 89.3
box .................. 8 62.2 53.4 7.8 0.0 6.3 14.1 3.2 89.0 o
Nailed box .............. 8 60.9 53.7 6.6 0.0 5.2 11.8 2.7 90.7
Fiberboard box ...... 2 41.8 34.4 13.4 0.0 4.4 17.8 6.8 79.8
Small spartan box 4 34.0 29.4 4.6 0.0 8.8 13.4 1.6 93.8 0
Lug (face & fill) box 2 32.1 28.5 7.2 0.0 4.0 11.2 2.3 90.5 r
Values are averages from all test boxes of any one type in all tests.
** Includes tomatoes having box-rubbing injury (considered marketable but reduced in salability) and all other tomatoes not pressure-bruised, crushed
22 Florida Agricultural Experiment Stations
Pressure-bruising of the tomatoes in the fiberboard box, as
shown in Table 2, was much higher than in the other containers.
However, the fiberboard box was included only in tests 7 and
8, in which the average pressure-bruising of the tomatoes was
13.4 percent, as compared with the average of 12.8 percent for
fruits in all boxes in these two tests. This was considerably
higher than the 5.7 percent average for the other six tests.
Therefore, there was little difference in bruising injury in the
fiberboard and the other boxes included in the same tests.
Total mechanical injuries ranged from 9.5 percent in the
standard lug to 28.4 percent in the field box. Except for the
field box, the differences in injuries among containers were
small. In many instances, as shown in Table 3, the differences
in injury among the eight tests were larger than among con-
tainers in the same test. However, in most of the tests the
same comparative rank of the containers with respect to in-
juries was maintained. Thus, in five of the eight tests the
standard lug ranked lowest in total injuries and in two of them
the nailed box ranked lowest. When only pressure bruises were
compared, the nailed box ranked first in four tests.
In one test, tomatoes from the same lot were compared on
the transit simulator and in a truck shipment from Homestead,
Florida, to Washington, D. C. In the truck test the least in-
jury was found in the nailed and wirebound (TAB) boxes (2
and 3 percent, respectively). Under simulated transit condi-
tions the least injury was in the lug and nailed boxes (both
COST OF PACKING TOMATOES, BY TYPE OF CONTAINER,
In 1950-51 cost data were obtained from 13 firms having
records on packing operations. Three of these had two pack-
inghouses each. All were principally tomato packers, but a few
packed various quantities of vegetables such as pole beans,
sweet corn and cucumbers. The average volume per packing-
house was 136,676 packages, of which 125,104 packages were
tomatoes. The output of all the houses averaged 91.5 per-
cent tomatoes, and 10 houses packed no vegetables but tomatoes.
When vegetables other than tomatoes were packed, total
packinghouse costs for tomatoes were first separated from those
for other vegetables. Tomato costs were then allocated to the
TABLE 3.-PRESSURE-BRUISING AND BOX-RUBBING INJURIES ON TOMATOES IN FOUR TYPES OF CONTAINER IN EIGHT
SIMULATED TRANSIT TESTS IN 1951.*
Type of Injury TEST NUMBER -
yandp 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Ave.
Type of Con-
tainer FRUITS INJURED
Percent Percent Percent Percent Percent Percent Percent Percent Percent 5
Lug box ........... 3.5 4.0 5.4 11.9 7.9 4.0 11.8 16.8 8.2
Field box .......... 5.4 5.6 5.5 9.1 6.9 3.8 10.3 14.3 7.6 2
TAB box .......... 3.7 7.6 2.5 10.8 5.5 5.6 13.4 13.3 7.8
Nailed box ... 3.0 4.8 4.4 10.2 4.8 3.6 11.0 10.8 6.6 -
Difference required for significance between container averages at odds of 19:1 .............. ............ 1.6
Lug box ............ 0.7 0.6 2.0 2.4 5.3 1.3 0.7 3 1 2.0
Field box .......... 13.4 17.5 26.0 22.9 27.8 17.2 9.6 32.0 20.8
TAB box ......... 3.5 0.8 2.9 7.5 17.4 0.7 0.7 17.0 6.3
Nailed box ........ 1.6 0.0 3.3 4.5 7.8 9.0 1.4 14.4 5.2
Difference required for significance between container averages at odds of 19:1 ........... ........................................ 5.9
Lug box ........... 4.2 4.6 7.4 14.3 13.2 5.3 12.5 19.9 10.2
Field box ........ 18.8 23.1 31.5 32.0 34.7 21.0 19.9 46.3 28.4
TAB box.......... 7.2 8.4 5.4 18.3 22.9 6.3 14.1 30.3 14.1
Nailed box ........ 4.6 4.8 7.7 14.7 12.6 12.6 12.4 25.2 11.8
Difference required for significance between container averages at odds of 19:1 ............ ....... ............. ... 8.2
99:1 ---------- ........... --- ... ........- -........ 15.1
The values for the fiberboard, small wirebound (spartan) and face-and-fill lug boxes pre not shown in this table because these containers were not N'
included in all eight tests. Results are averages of all boxes of any one type in all tests. c
24 Florida Agricultural Experiment Stations
various containers packed. Materials used were distributed be-
tween containers at the average invoice rate reported by the firm.
Piece or contract labor was allocated by the rates reported, and
the remaining labor on the basis of average labor requirements
for each container packed. The cost of waxing was distributed
according to the contract rates paid. All other costs were pro-
rated in the ratio of the total man-hour labor requirement for
packing each container.
The effect of this was to charge the lug box packing with a
somewhat higher proportion of the cost than a simple volume
distribution would have given. On a volume basis, the 60-
pound containers would have borne 82 percent more of the indi-
rect costs than the lug box. In the method used, 60-pound
wirebound boxes or 60-pound nailed boxes were assigned 40
percent more and the 60-pound field boxes 34 percent more of
the hour-rate labor and indirect costs than were lug boxes.
The average net weight of the lug boxes was about 34 pounds,
and that of the larger containers was 62 pounds.
The total packinghouse costs as reported by each firm were
not changed. The various allocations were merely an attempt
to break costs down by type of container.
The average packing costs per unit for each container of
tomatoes packed in 16 packinghouses, 1950-51, are shown in
Table 4. Selling costs are not included.
Packer's labor was usually paid at a piece rate, especially
for lug boxes, 60-pound field boxes, 60-pound nailed boxes and
60-pound wirebound boxes. One or two firms, however, used
hour-labor for all packing.
Other piece labor includes the following operations: Making
up containers, labeling, chuting or delivering to the packing
area, closing tops and loading. There were some variations in
the combinations of jobs or operations, and a few managers
had most of them done by hour-labor.
Other labor and supervision include receiving, trucking, dump-
ing, grading, miscellaneous and supervising labor. This class
of labor was paid an hourly rate, and the proportion of the
total labor varied with the container packed.
Any Social Security taxes paid were added to the labor cost.
All of the packinghouses used wax on the tomatoes, but it was
sometimes not applied to fruit packed in 60-pound field boxes.
Containers for Shipping Florida Tomatoes 25
The royalty for the use of machinery for application and for
the wax was a fixed amount per container.
Management and office salaries cover only the amounts paid
for these services. In some cases owners performed the man-
TABLE 4.-CosTs OF PACKING FLORIDA TOMATOES, BY TYPE OF CONTAINER,
16 PACKINGHOUSES, 1950-51 SEASON.
Packing Costs per Unit
30-lb. 60-lb. 60-lb. Wire-
Item Lug Field Nailed bound
Box Box Box Box
cents cents cents cents
Packing ......----........... ----- 10.0 9.6 9.4 11.4
Other piece labor -...-------..... 5.0 4.9 4.7 7.5
Other labor and supervision 13.4 18.2 22.8 16.5
Total Labor ................................ 28.4 32.7 36.9 35.4
Power, lights and water .. .5 .6 .6 .6
Royalties (wax) ................. 3.0 3.8 5.0 5.0
Repairs, building and equip- 2.7 3.5 2.6 3.8
m ent ...............................
Management and office 1.3 4.1 6.2 2.1
Telephone and telegraph .2 .4 .8 .1
Inspection .......--.--. ..-..---. .3 .4 .1 .4
Miscellaneous expense ...... 1.0 4.2 8.6 1.7
Depreciation .....----------..... 3.9 3.4 4.0 3.6
Rent --.. -----------...........-..... .4 .5 1.4 .2
Insurance ..--.........-------.. ----... .9 1.3 2.1 .9
Interest paid ...........--............. .1 .2 .3 .2
Taxes .. ........ ... .... ... .3 .6 .8 .7
Total Other Costs ................... 14.6 23.0 32.5 19.3
Total Costs Excluding Ma-
terials ...................................--- 43.0 55.7 69.4 54.7
Containers ----....... ................ 33.8 35.0 35.3
Papers, liners, "no-kuts" 8.9 .... 6.1 4.7
Other materials .................. 3.5 .1 3.6 1.8
Total Materials .......................... 46.2 .1 44.7 41.8
Total Packing Expenses .......... 89.2 55.8 | 114.1 96.5
numnumb number number number
Houses Packing ...--.............. 13 16 12 7
Units Packed ................. 773,525 549,537 285,810 228,901
Containers furnished by the buyer.
26 Florida Agricultural Experiment Stations
agement function and charged no salary or compensation as
Interest was also omitted unless actually paid on borrowed
capital. Hence, the interest expense is a comparatively small
item. Had interest been included on the whole invested capi-
tal in the plant and equipment at 5 percent, it would have
amounted to about 4 cents per bushel of tomatoes packed.
The container cost for lug boxes was obtained from two types.
The curved-side lug box was higher in cost but did not require
a "no-kut" liner. Wrapping paper was used only for lug boxes
in which the tomatoes were place-packed. All other containers
were jumble-packed. Liners were used in the 60-pound nailed
box and the 60-pound wirebound box. Other materials included
labels, paste, nails, car strips and bulkheads.
No container cost is shown for the 60-pound field box, as these
containers were furnished as a rule by the buyers. Use of
these containers involved expense (depreciation, repairs and
return freight charge) ; however, these costs were not paid by
Total packing costs, before compensation to management or
interest on invested capital, averaged 89 cents for lug boxes,
56 cents for open-top field boxes,7 114 cents for the 60-pound
nailed box, and 97 cents for the 60-pound wirebound box.
It should be pointed out that comparisons of costs of the 60-
pound nailed box and the 60-pound wirebound box are somewhat
distorted, since all firms did not pack every type of container.
This resulted in different groupings of the firms in determining
the packing cost for each container, and because of the small
number of firms packing the 60-pound wirebound box there was
a very favorable combination. Only seven houses packed the
wirebound box, and several of these were low-cost firms. The
lowest cost firm packed 58 percent of the wirebound boxes.
For firms packing both the 60-pound nailed box and the 60-
pound wirebound box, examination of detailed costs shows little
difference between the two containers (Table 5).
Total packing costs for the same containers varied widely
between firms, indicating a good opportunity for cost reductions
by some of the packinghouses. The costs of packing lug boxes
ranged from 74 to 110 cents per unit for 12 packinghouses.
The lowest-cost firm did not wrap tomatoes, but another house
which wrapped them had costs almost as low.
'Packing cost for field boxes did not include any cost for containers.
Containers for Shipping Florida Tomatoes 27
TABLE 5.-COMPARATIVE TOTAL COSTS OF PACKING TOMATOES IN 60-POUND
NAILED AND 60-POUND WIREBOUND BOXES BY THREE FIRMS PACKING
BOTH TYPES OF CONTAINER, 1950-51.
Firm No. 60-lb. Nailed Box 60-lb. Wirebound Box
1 134.6 133.3
2 114.5 111.9
3 119.2 119.0
Arithmetic Average ...... 122.7 121.4
Packing tomatoes in 60-pound field boxes or in buyers' boxes
of approximately 1-bushel capacity cost from 41 to 84 cents
per box for 16 packinghouses. No cost was included for con-
tainers. Every firm surveyed packed some tomatoes in field
Packing costs of the 60-pound nailed box ranged from 91 to
135 cents for 12 packinghouses. For the 60-pound wirebound
box they ranged from 87 to 163 for seven packinghouses. The
lowest-cost firm packed a large volume and was efficiently op-
erated, while the highest-cost house packed only half a carload
in this container. Total costs for the next highest firm were
In Table 6 are shown comparative costs of packing tomatoes
in three types of container, 1950-51. The number of packing-
houses handling each is large enough that the comparisons
are believed to be reasonably sound.
TABLE 6.-COMPARATIVE TOTAL COST OF PACKING TOMATOES IN THREE
TYPES OF CONTAINER IN COMMON USE, 1950-51.
"30-lb. I 60-lb.* 60-lb.
Lug Field Nailed
Item Box Box Box
cents cents cents
Total packing cost"* ..-................. 89.2 55.8 114.1
Packing cost per pound -............ 2.6 .9 1.8
Packing cost per equivalent lug box 89.2 30.6 62.6
Index of cost per equivalent lug box 100 34 70
Includes no container cost.
** From Table 4.
28 Florida Agricultural Experiment Stations
The 60-pound field box was the cheapest container to pack.
Packing a given quantity of tomatoes in it cost only 34 percent
as much as it did in the lug box. There was no container cost
to the packinghouse, and in some cases the packing was done
by day-labor. No return-freight cost for boxes is included in
this comparison. The 60-pound nailed box, while costing more
per unit to pack than the lug box, contained more fruit and cost
only 70 percent as much as the lug box for the same quantity.
Costs of container, materials and piece-labor were less per pound
If container costs are excluded, packing tomatoes in 60-pound
field boxes cost 71 percent as much as in lugs for the same
quantity, and 60-pound nailed boxes cost 89 percent as much.
The number of firms from which tomato packing costs were
obtained was not large enough to provide a satisfactory analysis
of all factors affecting costs in individual houses. Total volume
of tomatoes packed per season is one of the factors (Table 7).
TABLE 7.-TOTAL VOLUME OF TOMATOES PACKED AND COST OF PACKING IN
VARIOUS TYPES OF CONTAINER, 16 PACKINGHOUSES, 1950-51.
Volume Average Total Packing Cost per Unit
Group Volume Pack- I 60-lb.
Sing- 30-lb. 60-lb. 60-lb. Wire-
No. of Packages of Tomatoes houses Lug Field Nailed bound
Box Box* Box Box
number cents cents cents cents
Under 100,000 72,924 8 100 65 118 121
100,000-199,999 127,719 4 92 54 109
200,000-299,999 273,136 4 79 51 106 96
Ave. or Total 136,676 16 89 56 114 97
Excludes cost of containers.
For the eight houses packing less than 100,000 volume con-
tainers of tomatoes, total packing costs average 100 cents per
lug box, or 12 percent more than the average of all firms. For
the four packinghouses with over 200,000-box volume, the pack-
ing cost for lug boxes was only 79 cents per box, or 11 percent
less than the average. Total packing cost for lug boxes in the
highest-cost group was 26 percent more than in the lowest-cost
Containers for Shipping Florida Tomatoes 29
Packing costs for the 60-pound field box showed the same
trend by volume groups as did the lug box, but for the 60-pound
nailed box cost reductions were less with increasing volume.
Fewer houses packed the wirebound box, and there were no
firms using it in the 100,000 to 200,000 volume group.
EVALUATION OF SHIPPING CONTAINERS
The lug box, with a capacity of about 30 pounds of paper-
wrapped, place-packed tomatoes and used in Florida as the
standard shipping container, did not generally prove superior
in these tests. If packed with only a slight bulge and handled
properly it was reasonably satisfactory, but the rough surfaces,
protruding staples and flimsy lid kept it from being a first-class
shipping container. A corrugated liner, curved to protect the
fruit exposed by the bulge, would undoubtedly reduce punctures
and box-rubbing injury, but it would not protect against pres-
sure-bruising in high-bulged packages.
Place-packing tomatoes in lug boxes was more costly than
packing in large containers because of higher material costs
per pound of tomatoes packed and the larger amount of labor
required for wrapping and place-packing each tomato.
If a lug-type container is desired, the face-and-fill lug box
would be more economical to pack than the standard lug box,
and it offers approximately the same protection.
The field box, which had more rigid construction than other
boxes tested, provided good protection against pressure-bruising
if it was properly filled and loaded. One principal hazard in
using field boxes was the possibility of fruits near the top
being crushed if the boxes were not lined up properly in the
load or shifted during transit. Another was the comparatively
high rubbing injury, especially in old boxes that become rough.
Use of well-dressed lumber, prevention of weathering and rough-
ening of inner surfaces, prevention of dirt accumulation, and
use of liners, however, should reduce rubbing injury. The field
box was considered a practical container by many receivers. If
it could be economically returned to the shipping point, it could
be re-used many times for transporting tomatoes. Packing and
dumping costs were low for field boxes because of the absence
of lids and the ease of filling and emptying. Although satisfac-
tory for truck shipment, field boxes should not be shipped by
rail because of the high box-rubbing.
30 Florida Agricultural Experiment Stations
Even though the nailed box was more flexible than the field
and lug boxes, it gave good protection against box-rubbing in-
jury, because all surfaces were lined with heavy paper. When
properly handled the nailed box was satisfactory for both truck
and rail transportation and provided good protection for mature-
green tomatoes. Nailed boxes cost considerably less to pack
than lug boxes.
The wirebound (TAB) box, which was even more flexible
than the nailed box,, had a heavy paper liner covering all sur-
faces and when properly handled gave results similar to those
mentioned for the nailed box. Mature-green tomatoes were
successfully transported in this container both by truck and by
rail. Extensive bruising was not found in test shipments of
tomatoes showing only a small amount of ripening on arrival.
However, in some commercial lots of tomatoes in wirebound
(TAB) boxes hauled some distance or in boxes restacked a
number of times after the fruits had ripened, serious losses
from pressure-bruising have been observed. Packing costs were
about the same for nailed and wirebound (TAB) boxes when
the same volumes of tomatoes were packed, but both were
higher than for the field box.
In two truck tests pressure-bruising was slightly higher in
tomatoes packed in unlidded 60-pound fiberboard boxes, the most
flexible container tested. However, the smooth surfaces of the
fiberboard box gave good protection against box-rubbing injury.
Since 1950 lidded fiberboard boxes have come into use.
Pressure-bruising was slight in the 34-pound, small, wirebound
spartan box in both truck and simulated rail tests. This con-
tainer was lidded and lined in a manner similar to the wirebound
(TAB) box, but was more rigid. It is believed that the rela-
tively higher percentage of marketable tomatoes delivered by
the small spartan box than by the 60-pound containers was due
to its smaller capacity. When the tomatoes ripened in the
shipping containers there was more bruising of those shipped
in containers with 60-pound capacity than of those in the smaller
Field, wirebound (TAB), nailed, fiberboard and small spartan
boxes were compared with lug boxes as shipping containers
for Florida mature-green tomatoes. Data were obtained on
the amounts of pressure-bruising, crushing and box-rubbing
Containers for Shipping Florida Tomatoes 31
injury found at destination, on the marketable fruits, and on
the comparative costs of packing each type of container. The
containers were tested in commercial truck and rail loads and
on a transit simulator, where the vibrations and shocks, tem-
perature, humidity and time were constant for all tests.
The principal types of injury found in actual and simulated
transit were pressure-bruising and box-rubbing. Less than 1
percent of the fruits were crushed. In the 1949 truck tests
little difference was found in pressure-bruising of fruits in lug
(loaded flat), field and wirebound (TAB) boxes. In the 1950-51
truck tests pressure-bruising averaged approximately the same
as that in 1949 for the field, wirebound (TAB) and nailed boxes.
There was a marked reduction in pressure-bruising of fruits in
lug boxes loaded on their sides. The least pressure-bruising
was found in the small spartan boxes.
Box-rubbing injury was more effectively reduced in truck
tests by heavy paper liners in bulk containers than by paper
wraps in lug boxes.
Losses from decay during transit and ripening were affected
more by temperature, handling practices and condition of the
fruit than by type of container. In some instances, however,
decay followed serious injuries, particularly if the skin of the
tomato was broken.
Data obtained from 16 packinghouses during 1950-51 indi-
cated the following tomato packing costs: lug boxes, 89.2
cents; wirebound (TAB) boxes, 96.5 cents; nailed boxes, 114.1
cents; field boxes, excluding container cost, 55.8 cents per con-
tainer (Table 4). The average cost of packing wirebound
(TAB) boxes is somewhat distorted, because fewer firms were
packing them than nailed boxes.
The costs of packing wirebound and nailed boxes were about
the same for houses packing equal volumes in these containers
(Table 5). The higher cost of packing an equivalent weight
of tomatoes in lug boxes over bulk containers, as shown in
Table 6, resulted from the higher cost of materials per pound
of tomatoes packed and the additional labor for wrapping and
place-packing each tomato. When materials costs were ex-
cluded, the cost of packing the same quantity of tomatoes in
60-pound field boxes was 71 percent as much as in lugs, and
in 60-pound nailed boxes 89 percent as much as in lugs.
Lidded and lined containers, such as the wirebound (TAB),
nailed, fiberboard and small spartan boxes, delivered fewer
32 Florida Agricultural Experiment Stations
injured tomatoes than the standard lidded lug or the unlined
open-top field box when shipped by truck from Florida to North-
ern markets. Rail shipments of field boxes are not recom-
mended, but the other types of container tested were all
satisfactory. The costs under the marketing conditions exist-
ing at any one time or place are likely to be more important
factors in making a selection of tomato shipping containers
than the containers themselves.
Sincere appreciation is expressed to the following for their excellent
cooperation in various phases of the work: J. S. Wiant (deceased), B. A.
Friedman, W. A. Radspinner, J. Kaufman and H. Hruschka, Biological
Sciences Branch, Agricultural Marketing Service, USDA, New York City,
who obtained valuable data on injuries and ripening in test loads in that
area; Donald R. Stokes of the Marketing Research Division, Agricultural
Marketing Service, USDA, who assisted in the initial phases of the study;
E. V. Miller and his associates at the University of Pittsburgh for obtaining
valuable data on injuries and ripening in test loads in that area; and W. B.
Coleman, refrigeration mechanic of the Horticulture Department, Florida
Agricultural Experiment Station, for constructing the transit simulator used
in the 1951 tests.
These investigations would have been impossible without the whole-
hearted cooperation of many growers, packers, shippers, receivers, trans-
portation companies (including railways and truck lines), container manu-
facturers and other commercial organizations, as well as private individ-
uals. This cooperation is greatly appreciated and hereby gratefully ac-
knowledged. The number of the cooperators, amounting to several score,
is too large to permit individual listing.