Desert produce growers and shippers talk often about the quality of the items they pack, but they also say what’s outside counts, too.

Packaging is taking on an important role in helping those products stand out against competitors, grower-shippers say. Indeed, some of them have gone to new formats to generate some attention.

Pouch bags are a major trend today, said Franz De Klotz, vice president of marketing with Mecca, Calif.-based Richard Bagdasarian Inc.

“It seems to be what everyone is asking for these days,” he said.

Some items, such as peppers, call for variety in pack styles, De Klotz said.

Grape grower-shipper Anthony Vineyards has added a new pouch bag to its repertoire, said Rob Spinelli, salesman.

“Everybody is going crazy for it at retail, so we have transitioned all our bags in the organics to a high-graphic pouch,” he said.

On the conventional side, versatility is essential, he said.

“In our conventional market, the problem is everyone wants something different, so we’ve gone to a full-graphic pouch bag on our conventional, as well as a pouch that is 100% clear with no graphics,” he said.

Some customers want graphics and some don’t, so they need to be offered a choice, Spinelli said.

“I sell more packaging now than ever,” he said, noting that the company also offers 2-, 3- and 4-pound clamshells.

Packaging can be a key marketing tool, said Kirk Pohl, president of Westfresh Distributing in Monterey, Calif.

“Everything I do label-wise is all geared toward ‘West,’” he said, noting that his company logo, which goes on Westfresh’s Points West and Desert West labels, is a compass rose.

“Desert West label out of Coachella is a high-graphic colorful label and people recognize it,” Pohl said.

Prime Time International in Coachella, Calif., recently expanded its packinghouse to accommodate its customers’ diverse demands for new packaging, said Mike Aiton, marketing director.