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Pacific AgPak leads the way in strawberry packaging

Pacific AgPak Inc. has long enjoyed an excellent reputation for providing top-of-the-line packaging for strawberries, and the company, based in Watsonville, CA, is dedicated to providing new innovations in packaging that protects strawberries and improves efficiency.

Out-from-the-machine “We’ve had our most success in providing great service and just-in-time deliveries and listening to the shippers and growers that we work with in developing new packages throughout the years,” said David Baum, president of Pacific AgPak. “We’re centrally located here in Watsonville, where we warehouse and label up millions upon millions of clamshells for the strawberry industry.”

Baum said the company sells more than 200 million clamshells each year, and that it aims is to grow that number by listening to customers, and most importantly, being available.

“If you call our office, you’re not going to get a voice mail, you’re going to get a live person and most likely it’s going to be me because I take all the calls after hours and through the weekends,” he said. “We’ve learned throughout the years, there’s a formula you have to have in place for the strawberry growers — there’s a bell curve of production, where if you don’t plan correctly, you’re not going to have enough supply on hand.”

One of Pacific AgPak’s major focuses is to make sure that customers never run out of product but at the end of the year, not have too much left on the floor.

“And our goal is to basically have zero inventory on the floor so they can put their money and profits back into the ground for production and not have to spend it on packaging,” Baum said.

In 2019, Baum noted that four-pound and two-pound club store packs are prevalent, but the one-pound package is still the industry’s “workhorse.”

“All the products that we develop and manufacture are made from PET, which is the most recognized recyclable plastic in the world,” Baum said. “All of our clamshells are thoughtfully developed with secure button-lock closures. They’re display units that are attractive on the retail shelves, where it’s bright and highly visible clarity plastics.”

Pacific AgPak also handles custom labeling and develops labels at no cost to the customer.

“We store and ship a lot of the products here locally to a lot of the growers we service up and down the cost from Baja, Mexico all the way up here to Northern California,” Baum said.

Among the company’s innovations are developing a four-pound club pack with Costco. It also developed different-styled packs for the eight-down format.

“As far as new packaging goes, we’re working on some compostable packaging that will give options to some of the growers who are looking for this type of pack for their retail customers, and also to help environmentally come up with different options for the right package going forward,” Baum said.

Last year, Pacific AgPak added 10,000 square feet to its warehouse to accommodate the extra storage space it needs. It’s also getting ready to launch a new website, which will present a clearer picture of its offerings along with contact names and direct phone numbers for employees.

Baum said the company is also taking on the industry’s biggest challenges, including those involving PET recycling.

“With the overload of supply not being accepted as far as recycled products into China, it’s kind of put a glut into our U.S. market as far as where PET-recycled products are being accepted,” he said. “I think that’s a challenge in educating the public on how to recycle correctly and to create markets for the recycled goods after post-consumer usage.”

In that area, Baum said there’s a need for more education within communities related to curbside recycling.

“There’s definitely a demand for PET-made products, and not only do PET products get recycled back into making new produce containers, but it’s also made into carpets, clothing, and plastic good components for different electronics and aircraft,” Baum said. “It’s just a big market and there needs to be more of a focus on how to recycle.”