Pouches boost sales of California grapes

06/25/2013 11:20:00 AM
Mike Hornick

Stand-up pouch bags are making a quantum leap in market share for grape packaging in 2013.

“Retailers say they’re selling 50% more fruit when it’s in that bag,” said Ed Johnson, president of Specialty Bags Inc., Lake Forest, Calif.

“That’s what’s excited the growers, who historically are pushing for the lowest cost bag possible. Where they were buying a 3-cent bag, now they’re buying a 6-cent or 9-cent bag,” he said.

Polypropylene, which is clearer and high gloss, is supplanting the cheaper polyethylene resin. Eight-color printing and big graphics along the top are no longer the exception.

Specialty Bags anticipates the pouches will account for 40% to 50% of its sales this year, up from just 10% in 2012.

“It’s changing fast,” Johnson said.

“One of my big growers, M. Caratan (Inc.), met with the seven largest retailers they sell to,” he said. “Every one of the seven said all their grapes need to be in the new polypropylene bag. (M. Caratan) has both types of bags.

“They said, ‘Use the older bag elsewhere, and put ours in the new.’ Next year they’ll be 100% on the new bag, assuming this continues.”

Grapes, like cherries, are often considered impulse purchases. The stand-up bags, which typically come with handles, appear to be generating such impulses and turning at least some of them into repeat sales.

“The high graphics are attracting the consumer,” Johnson said.

“They see it as something different, and when they pick it up they’re more likely than not to put it in their cart rather than back on the display.”

Wal-Mart and Safeway, he said, have instructed suppliers to pack all cherries in polypropylene slider bags.

“This type of bag has been common for mini peppers, little cucumbers and veggies. Now they’re putting some of their higher volume fruits in it to increase sales,” he said.

Johnson thought growers would be reluctant to go for the higher-cost bags.

“If they’re moving more fruit, it’s a good thing for everyone,” he said.



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