Mesh bags with handles and a plastic wrap are the norm for zipper-skin specialty citrus and are beginning to make inroads into avocados, stone fruit and onions.

Sorma USA shows off mesh bags at the Potato ExpoBut the U.S. potato industry has yet to jump on board, partly because of its widespread reliance on poly or poly-mesh bags, said Marco Bini with Sorma USA LLC, Visalia, Calif.

But Sorma USA wants to change that, showcasing its BSS packaging machine and numerous mesh Vertbag offerings at the Potato Expo in Las Vegas, Jan. 9-10.

Sorma’s parent company, based in Cesena, Italy, has capitalized on the packaging’s popularity for potatoes in Europe.

With the construction of a new plastic wrap printing plant in Visalia, Bini said Sorma USA can now offer packers and shippers about a one-week turnaround on orders.

Packing potatoes in the wrapped mesh bags matches well with messages from many speakers in the expo’s break-out educational sessions about packers connecting better with consumers, he said.

“This packaging brings an avenue to communicate with the consumer not only about what your company makes but also other information,” Bini said. That could include cooking instructions, recipes, quick-response codes that take consumers to a website and traceback information.

Sorma USA shows off mesh bags at the Potato ExpoBini admitted that potatoes and onions are more complicated to pack than many other commodities because of dirt and scale. But he said the BSS has proven itself both in the U.S. and Europe.

The Vertbag mesh and wrap are preassembled into one sheet, so the packaging machine simply wraps the material around the commodity, seals it and cuts it.

The bag bottoms feature a small cut that allows for easy opening when the consumer gets it home.

Bini said Sorma is so confident of its machines that it will install them in packinghouses for packers to try without a long-term commitment.