YAKIMA, Wash. — The stand-up gusseted bag is a powerful new packaging trend for Northwest cherries, cherry marketers believe.
Offering better transparency and graphics, the new bag, also called a “pouch” bag, stands up and looks a little nicer than the traditional catch-weight bag, said Steve Clement, chief operating officer and general manager for Sage Fruit Co.
The clear plastic does a good job of showcasing the cherries, he said, even though it is more expensive and harder to pack.
The weight of the bag is about 2.25 pounds.
Robert Kershaw, president of Domex Superfresh Growers, said the pouch bag confronts shippers with a similar price increase that they encountered when they switched from the press-to-seal bag to the slide-lock bag several years ago.
With economies of scale, Kershaw said that the premium for the pouch bag can be expected to decline in the years ahead.
He said the pouch bags are much a better billboard for the produce inside than the slide-lock bags, which he said look like a opaque sandwich bag in comparison.
“We’re excited and think it people are really going to like it at the retail level,” said Brianna Shales, communications manager for Stemilt Growers LLC, Wenatchee. “We definitely see it as the wave of the future.”
The gusseted, high-graphic bag was tested on dark red and rainier cherries during the 2012 cherry season by Columbia Marketing International Corp., said Bob Mast, president of the Wenatchee company.
The tests were conducted last year with three smaller regional retailers, Mast said. All three decided to go with the bags this year, he said.
Mast said the bag represents the future of the industry, and he expects near total acceptance of the bag within a couple of years.
“Once retailers and consumers see this bag, it is going to be a very quick ascension,” he said.
Mast said the new bag works for produce department merchandisers.
“It stands up on the display, which is really nice, and it has the graphic aspect, which is wonderful,” he said.
A third positive of the pack is the handle, which allows customers to “grab and go,” Mast said.
The bag may also protect the cherries more than the standard bag, he said. Less product damage is anticipated with the shingle stack approach of the gusseted bags, compared with the double and triple stacking common in merchandising standard bags.
Shippers said they will ship the slide-lock bags open because of regulations regarding random weight items.