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Monte Package Co. cites several current packaging strengths

riverside, mi — Pouch bags continue to take the produce industry by storm. Plastic corrugated cartons are seeing increased demand and heat-sealed, clear-top, compostable base tills are coming on strong.

Sam Monte, director of operations for his family business, Monte Package Co., cited these highlights as the firm is “geared up and out in front” in preparation for a new Michigan shipping season.

While Monte Package has national distribution, the Michigan market remains very important to the company.

2018-5-10-1640-Ryan-Moscardelli-Sam-MonteIn the Monte Package boardroom are Ryan Moscardelli and Sam Monte, the firm’s director of operations. Moscardelli joined Monte last July, working in sales and new business development.The firm offers “great service, quality products and competitive prices. If we keep those traits in unison, we’ll keep trucking.”

Monte said that pouch bags remain very popular and are “a great package for consumers.” The product is easy to take off the shelf and store in the refrigerator, while almost all the pouch designs are resealable. “It’s a great value-added package. There is high-clarity, which shows the product really well.” The package offers “a blank slate” for packers to place “whatever message they want, to develop a rapport with the end user. They can put on a picture or connect to consumers with recipes.”

He said, for example, that a lot of consumers don’t know what to do with zucchini and squash. Packers of these products can now print recipes for squash noodles on their pouch bags.

Growers and packers can increase sales “if consumers know how to use the product and understand that there is more than one use” for the items.

“We need to share our knowledge and expertise, so when products go out they will be successful in the marketplace.”

Pouch bags “are a great fit to allow the industry to produce a value-added pack with short lead times.”

Monte said his family’s operation offers a whole line of pouch bags. They can be clear if the shipper doesn’t want to use verbiage that would block product view.

Another popular product is the PET, heat-sealed clear top on a compostable base. It is tamper-evident.

“It’s very popular with the greenhouse tomato industry,” he said. “It’s doing very, very well. It will be a trending package type. The film provides so much real estate. It’s a very attractive package for medium and bigger packaging. You can maximize your message and branding. The top seal is taking the place of clamshells, which had a limited surface. When you heat seal on a one-piece base, you have quite a bit of room. We see more and more of these work their way into more and more packages every year.”

Durable, lightweight plastic corrugated shipping boxes, which are made of a material similar to that used for political lawn signs, are rapidly gaining popularity since the cost of paper has steadily risen in the last year-and-a-half.

Oil prices have also been rising recently. The plastic for these shipping containers is an oil derivative, but prices have not spiked, Monte noted.

The plastic corrugated is 100 percent recyclable, compared to retailers needing to pay to dispose of waxed paper boxes. Plastic corrugation can carry iced vegetables and offers a bright white surface that is ideal for printing any color.

Corrugated plastic “has been around forever,” Monte said. But it’s still up and coming as an alternative to waxed boxes, wirebounds and RPCs.

“This is a pretty good ‘plan B’ to the alternatives,” including the alternative of an open-topped plastic corrugated box to replace open RPCs.

The popularity of plastic corrugated started with celery. Now many sweet corn growers are starting to use it.

Of Michigan’s fruit and vegetable growers, he said, “Everyone is optimistic about the season.”

Michigan’s winter brought “nothing wild” to Michigan’s fruit growers, “which pushes optimism” for a good production season.

In working with growers in Michigan and across the country, “We are trying to push the philosophy of ‘Let Monte Packaging focus on the packaging.’ We have 93 years of experience. We probably have a thousand years of experience” cumulatively, he added. While Monte Package has national distribution, the Michigan market remains very important to the company.