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Sev-Rend meeting apple industry demand for pouch bags

Apple packers around the country began demanding pouch bags several seasons ago. “Last year the demand gained steam,” said Tony O’Driscoll, the vice president of sales and marketing for Sev-Rend Corp. “But this year, demand is going gangbusters!”

Sev-Rend is a packaging designer, manufacturer and a supplier specializing in serving the needs of fresh produce packers. O’Driscoll said Sev-Rend can create any size or weight of pouch bag that packers might need. This is one of many packaging categories offered by the firm, which is located just east of St. Louis in Collinsville, IL.

Sev-Rend-Tony-ODriscollTony O’Driscoll, vice president of sales and marketing for Sev-Rend Corp.O’Driscoll said the demand for pouch bags for apples initially came from the Pacific Northwest. “There was a mass conversion from net bags,” he noted. 

Now in Michigan net bags are still used with apples, “but that’s not like it used to be,” he said.

O’Driscoll said that net bags and pouch bags are both recyclable. But consumers perceive that the pouches are more environmentally friendly, which is among the reasons retail buyers are asking for them.

Jeff Watkin, Sev-Rend’s marketing manager, interjected that merchandising appeal is also a big reason retailers want pouch bags on their shelves. Pouch bags allow consumers to see apple contents better than through net bags.

O’Driscoll said Sev-Rend offers North American apple packers several advantages over sourcing from China.

The Chinese can sell large volumes for a low price by offering mass quantities of generic bags.

He said that Sev-Rend is competitive on price but offers practical, profit-oriented benefits to make this product the preferred choice.

For one, he said the apple industry is scrambling to find the technology to efficiently pack the pouches. Labor rates are high and workers are often difficult to find. This increases the need for mechanized pouch fillers. 

But one of the attractive features of pouches is that so many styles can give shippers a variety of marketing advantages. The bags can come in heavier-gauge plastic for pouches that hold more volume. Of course, using varied sizes of bags presents retailers with more merchandising options.

O’Driscoll notes that, if a packer is buying from China based on accessing large counts of generic bags, then the flexibility of serving customer orders is greatly limited.

Packing machine designers are much nimbler when they can work with domestic bag manufacturers — such as Sev-Rend — in deriving machinery that can be adjusted to the variety of needed bags.

O’Driscoll further noted that, given Sev-Rend’s ability to serve varying order sizes, and custom-print relatively small numbers, is a great advantage for the domestic apple industry. Managing inventory assets is critical to all businesses, he stressed.

Packer-shippers may need to offer special bags for specific customer promotions. These would be relatively low-count orders, because those custom orders would be useless after the events. 

O’Driscoll said that many shippers have spent years and a great deal of money to establish their brands. Packing and shipping a relatively inexpensive generic clear bag, sourced in China, defeats the purpose of developing brands. “To not reinforce your investment to gain not-a-lot of savings (with a generic, volume bag purchase) seems frivolous. What a waste!”

O’Driscoll continued that “just-in-time” ordering becomes possible for Sev-Rend customers. He said Chinese manufacturers indicate they can deliver pouch bags is six to eight weeks. Given the fact that ships are on the water for three weeks between Shanghai and Long Beach, and then all the other considerations involving with logistics and customs, “an eight- to 12-week delivery time is more realistic.”

Sev-Rend is deliberately located in the middle of North America to have delivery within a couple of days. 

Watkin said his team and their manufacturing equipment are very efficient and can print new bag artwork within a couple of days.

Watkin encourages the industry to “look at the value, time, capital, level of service and adaptability, and the dollars and cents invested to brand and promote” when purchasing packaging materials.