(July 25) These days, where bags are concerned, it’s not what they hold that matters as much as what they say.

Graphics seem to be the name of the game in bag products today, marketing agents say.

“Certainly, the increase in graphics and the shelf presence will continue to grow and continue to be important,” said Todd Somers, vice president of sales and marketing for Union City, Calif.-based Emerald Packaging Inc. “The sophistication of the graphics will continue to be there.”

Eye-catching graphics are a trend in Canada, as well, said Garth Smallman, sales director, W.P. Griffin Inc., Elmsdale, Prince Edward Island. “We have much higher graphics, and you can see the finished product, like for a meal,” he said. “We show that instead of just the brand name.”

Smallman’s company packs potatoes in bags and a lot of information on them, he said.

“On our poly bags, we do a 2- and 3-pound mini potato,” he said. “We have a bread bag clip, which has a recipe attached to that. And, it has some graphics of what the finished product will look like and on the reverse side has the recipe.”

Packers have to keep diverse markets in mind for bags and all packaging, said Bob Meek, chief executive officer of Wada Farms Marketing Group LLC, Idaho Falls, Idaho.

“I think the trend right now is for smaller bags,” he said. “The consumer is going to want a bag for one meal setting.”

But, not all customers are alike, he added.

“Frankly, we’re hitting two different target markets,” Meek said. “The potato industry will be defined in two target sectors. One is the convenience-driven consumer who wants his potato ready; the other is going to buy a 5- or 10-pound bag and keep a stash of potatoes in their pantry.”

Then, he said are the traditional shoppers, looking for 5-pound bags.

“That market isn’t going away,” he said. “It’s still a very stable market, but the challenge we have in this industry is continue to make potato eaters out of the young people out there.”

Ian Ferguson, a salesman for Mississauga, Ontario-based Chantler Packaging Inc., said what’s inside a bag counts most heavily, but packaging companies recognize the importance of a bag’s eye appeal.

“People are always looking at trying to bring more value to the consumer, and whether adding that value is doing something like extending the freshness of the product or making it more convenient, we’re going to see more value-added products down the road.”

And, he said, more graphics.

“Graphics are always a determiner, and we’re very proud of our printing capabilities at Chantler, and we’re seeing more demand for higher-end graphics,” he said. “A few years ago, print was uncomplicated, but now growers are realizing they can build their brands and get across a more positive message to consumers by adding high-quality print to their package. So there is definitely a trend there.”

Some companies go their own way for bags. Volm Cos. Inc., Antigo, Wis., uses Claf-brand bags from Atlanta Nisseki Claf Inc., Kennesaw, Ga., which are a mesh system, said Benjamin Feinn, chief executive officer.

“It’s extruded, forced through a die that has maybe a hundred nozzles,” he said. “It produces a resin. Some people call it a blown film.”

The mesh is affixed to a printed, laminated front that can give the manufacturer plenty of options, Feinn said.

“It can be as beautiful as you want,” he said.