Mast said most of the clamshell business for the dark sweet varieties goes in club stores. While those retailers may not convert to the new bags for that business, Mast said supermarkets may switch from merchandising rainiers in clamshells to the new bags.
Premium product packaging
With the industry delivering good tasting firm cherries, Mast said the more upscale bag could help demand.
“We have one of the premium items in the produce department, and we’ve traditionally put it out there in the cheapest possible package we could,” he said. “No we are putting out in a package that is more conducive to giving it the respect it deserves.”
Clement said the high-clarity gusseted bag is more expensive than the zipper bags to the tune of about $1.50 per box, and packing runs slower with the new bag.
The new gusseted bag is cheaper than the clamshell, Clement said, and will displace some of the inroads that clamshells have been making in the cherry deal, he said.
Clement said rainiers also will be packed in the new gusseted bag.
Because 53% of all cherry sales are impulse purchases, according to data from the Northwest Cherry Growers, the new more appealing bag is expected to add momentum to cherry sales.
“I think that, even though it is more expensive, the industry is right to move to that new bag,” Clement said.
B.J. Thurlby, president of Northwest Cherry Growers, said retailers are impressed with the performance of the bags.
“I’m excited to see if this new bag is going to help us,” he said.
Mac Riggan, vice president of marketing for Chelan Fresh Marketing, Chelan, said the company is gearing up to do a substantial volume of the gusseted or pouch bag with the handle.
“There was a big push last year by some retailers to go to clamshells, but what is nice about the pouch bag is that it is a nice hybrid between the old bag we have used and the clamshell,” he said.
Riggan said the new pouch bag fits the needs of the retailer, customer and the packer perhaps better than either of the other two options,
The display and merchandising strength of the gusseted bag could exceed that of a clamshell, Riggan said.
Howard Nager, vice president of marketing at Domex Superfresh Growers, said the new pouch bag will begin to transform the industry this year and even more so in future years.
“Maybe, in the next three years, I think just about everybody will be shipping a majority of that fruit in that bag.”