Retailers operate their own crate pools to support the receiving process from suppliers through their cold supply chain; FDC to Shelves
Crates are rented by the Suppliers for loading their products, each Retailers rental charge varies from one to another
Retailers are using their own practices, tracking system, washing facility, etc., which results in different standards of traceability, cleanliness, etc.
Retailers struggle at peak seasonal periods as invariably finding capital expenditure for short periods of time is often not catered for.
Suppliers rent and hold varying amounts of crates from various Retailers, many the same size just different colors. The agreement is that Suppliers should not mix up the Retailers crates and only use for the Retailer who owns the crates. However, although Suppliers try to manage this way, the truth is, that if the Supplier finds them self-short of trays for one Retailer but have excess with another, they will and do use another Retailers crates to meet their overall demand. Therefore, inadvertently Retailers are pooling of a sort!
Then there is the question of theft.
There is a black market for plastic crates.
Retailers don’t put enough accountability throughout the supply chain to track the crates. E.g. Most Store managers don’t see it as their responsibility but the responsibility of Distribution.
Downloaded full document here: RETURNABLE PACKAGING.pdf