How to choose a Packhouse bagging and sealing system that’s right for you?


By the time fresh produce reaches the packhouse, most farmers feel that the hard work has been done. But now comes a make or break decision. Packaging! The importance of superb packaging can’t be underestimated. Your bag is going to engage directly with the consumer. The right system should maximizes on-shelf presence, price and consumer satisfaction.

So how do you make a smart choice? Let’s consider the next 5 questions.



What’s in the bag? Every type of produce demands different packaging. Understanding how the contents of the bag can and will affect the packaging can go a long way in determining the packaging process required, the bag style, bag material needed and the most appropriate choice in packaging equipment. For example packing and bagging unprocessed raw carrots is a very different process from preparing punnets of cherry tomatoes for market or bagging peppers.



Which bag? Choosing the correct bag type and bag material is the logical next step. Standard bag materials generally include low or hi-density polyethylene, polypropylene, net bags, combinations of net and film or paper foil and plastic. Bag styles include wicketed bags, pillow bags, net bags and bags on a roll of film especially designed for form fill seal machines. In some cases, the customer may stipulate bag type, in other cases the choice will be left to the producer.

Ready-to-eat items require specialised packaging processes and bag material. These products are easily packaged using continuous roll film material (often polypropylene, poly- ester or foil laminates) on a purpose-built conveyorized machine. The bag material is automatically formed into shape, the product is inserted and the package is sealed on three sides and trimmed. The variety of bag, bag size and material combinations is nearly as numerous as the types of products to be packaged. So choosing bag type will need to be done in consultation with a reputable service provider.





Which process? Well this depends on the product and it’s potential shelf life and durability. Some goods such as deciduous fruits need gentle handling from cradle to grave. Produce such as lettuce and salad greens will require rapid form fill sealing and possibly MAP technology. Potatoes are a little more robust and will happily head to market in a 7 kg paper bag. Systems have to be designed according to produce packed, required time to market and the retail landscape in the supermarket.



How fast do you plan to pack? Operating speed will have a great bearing on your choice and the cost of system. Today, highly automated packaging systems are readily available and operate at incredible speeds. But not everybody needs this high level of manufacturing capacity. In fact, many packaging systems are neither used every single day nor at maximum capacity – so choosing a machine that closely matches your operational production level is an  important consideration. Many semi-automatic systems offer acceptable speeds and performance at lower costs.



How do I choose the right supplier? Here are some important points for consideration.

Has the supplier been in the business for a long time? Reputable suppliers will have been in business a long time, will have a proven track record and don’t need to hurry you into a decision. Reputable suppliers will make every effort to understand your needs, before recommending a system. Remember equipment suppliers are rarely bag manufacturers so there is a need for them to work in tandem, so that the system can operate with the chosen bag.

Does the supplier have a large installed base? Good suppliers have a wealth of happy customers a solid client base.

Are current customers happy with their equipment? This is very important to check. A few well-placed phone calls to some existing clients could save you major pain later. Don’t be frightened to ask tough questions.

Are replacement parts widely available? This is a no brainer, but check anyway. Downtime affects bottom line and spare parts from every section of the installation should be readily available.

Are technical and support staff qualified and available to help when needed? Again, this is essential that your supplier offers this. There is nothing more frustrating that buying a system, that doesn’t run at optimal performance.

Can the supplier work with you on a customized solution or configure a system to meet your unique requirements?

Every packhouse is different, so don’t be pressured into accepting a system that is right for someone else but not for you. Selecting the right equipment now will not only save headaches and frustration in the future, but will go along way to ensuring long term profitability.

While this process can seem a little daunting, Goldpack is here to help you make these critical decisions and offer, advice, support, guidance, system design and installation. Once installed, we partner with you all the way to the market.

Feel free to ask as many questions as you like. We are sure that we can set your mind at ease.