( Courtesy Bari Produce LLC )

Pouch bags have become the No. 1 choice for packing table grapes, but most California grower-shippers say they also pack a certain amount of clamshell containers.

Like most grower-shippers, Bari Produce LLC, Madera, Calif., packs most of its grapes in pouch bags.

“We’ve been very successful with that,” said president Justin Bedwell.

The pouch bag is convenient for consumers, it’s easy to fill, and it can be a good merchandising tool, he said.

“It’s got a wide mouth, so it’s easy to put the fruit in and out, and it’s a very good way to showcase the grapes.”
Pouch bags also have been the norm for King Fresh Produce LLC, Dinuba, Calif., said owner Keith Wilson.

“(Retailers) think it moves more grapes,” he said.

They’re as easy to pack to as the old polypropylene bag, but they’re more expensive, he said.

They also “kind of magnify the fruit,” Wilson said, and they can support graphics and bright colors.

Giumarra Vineyard Corp., Bakersfield, Calif., uses pouch bags because they’re “economical, use less plastic, look great on the shelf and provide more real estate for branding,” said Mimi Dorsey, vice president of marketing.
They can be packed as either a variable- or fixed-weight item, and can have both a Price Look-Up and a Universal Product Code, which provides flexibility for retailers according to their point-of-sale system, she said.

Most of the grapes that Bakersfield, Calif.-based Top Brass Marketing Inc. ships are packed in high-graphic pouch bags, said president Brett Dixon.

“The high-graphic pouch bag stands up and presents itself far better than its predecessor,” he said.

But Top Brass makes sure the high-graphic portions are toward the top of the bag, where it seals.

“We believe our grapes themselves are the best selling point and need to be seen as opposed to being hidden by the graphics on the bag,” he said.

While Crown Jewels Produce Co. LLC, Fresno, Calif., uses mostly pouch bags, some customers ask for clamshells, said salesman Stephen Thomason.

Clamshells typically are packed in trays of 10 2-pounders or six 3-pounders, he said.

Some retailers ask for clamshells for bicolor combos, while others may switch back and forth between clamshells and pouch bags, Thomason said.

“It depends on the customer.”

Bari Produce “dabbles with” a few clamshells, Bedwell said. 

“We’ve got a couple customers who want to differentiate themselves from the pack,” he said.

“It seems to work well for certain retailers who want a top-end (product) and don’t mind paying the extra price for the packaging,” Bedwell said.

Giumarra offers 2-, 3- and 4-pound clamshells for its conventional, specialty and proprietary varieties, Dorsey said.

“Clamshells are a fixed weight package that offer the opportunity for the retailer to do segment pricing in the grape category by variety rather than color or PLU code, and to collect sales data based on variety, country of origin, and grower,” she said.

They also stack easily in displays.

King Fresh packs a lot of clamshells, especially for bicolor packs and organic grapes. Wilson said.

“Some varieties are more expensive to grow and harvest, so there may be a better price point for a smaller fixed weight clamshell,” said Dixon of Top Brass Marketing.

Clamshell containers also can help a retailer avoid slip-and-fall concerns as well as reduce shrink from too many “taste tests” prior to purchase, he said.

Most organic grapes are sold in a packaged form, a practice driven by retail to ensure a proper ring and avoid confusion with lower-priced conventional product, said Craig Morris, category director of citrus and grapes for Homegrown Organic Farms, Porterville, Calif.

Packaging in the future will be more and more critical as retailers try to reduce the amount of materials they use and demand that packaging that is used be recyclable, he said.

John Pandol, special projects director for Delano, Calif.-based Pandol Bros. Inc., said he’s concerned about “the war on plastic and packaging.”

Many retailers are eliminating excess packaging and reducing the use of plastic, even discontinuing plastic straws, he said.

“If we’re serious about reducing the amount of packaging, how do you market something like grapes?” he asked.

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