BYRON CENTER, Mich. — Van Solkema Produce has a new breathable, high-graphic pouch billed to extend life of fresh vegetables, said Talbert Nething, the company’s sales manager.
Van Solkema spent about a year researching how to make the perfect breathable pouch before it went into production, Nething said.
This is the first season the company will pack in the standup bags, which can hold one to two pounds of product, depending on the commodity.
Van Solkema found a manufacturer in Europe that worked with Mexican growers on bulk bags, Nething said. Van Solkema worked with them to tailor the product for retail packs.
“It took a lot of trial and error, but we’ve developed a pouch that we know works,” he said.
“There’s no doubt they can reduce shrink and extend shelf life.”
The bags, which have been third-party tested, have been shown to maintain the shelf life of squash for 25 days, Nething said.
Depending on conditions, the shelf life of asparagus in the bag could be up to 14 days.
The bags, which feature high-graphic photos of the given commodity along the top, also will be used to pack asparagus, cucumbers, peppers and other vegetables. Most, but not all of the bags will be item-specific, he said.
One thing that separates the display-ready Van Solkema bag from other standup pouches is that its holes are barely if at all visible, Nething said.
“There are plenty of standup bags out there, but most of them are bullet-holed,” he said.
“There could be another one out there, but to my knowledge there isn’t another one that has extended shelf life.”
Clamshells, trays and other packaging options are fine, but Nething said the time for a high-tech bag had come.
“I thought there was a better way to do it,” he said.
“I felt that some of the things we had done for years were outdated.”
Van Solkema will continue to pack carrots, Vidalia onions and some other vegetables in traditional packaging.
The new extended shelf life bag is just one of the packaging changes Nething has made since he joined Van Solkema in 2013, after serving as general manager for Byron Center-based Hearty Fresh.
In 2013 the company purchased two overwrap machines that will be used to create tray packs for a variety of vegetables.