Thursday 16th Jul, 2020

Judging bulk by the bag: buying the right bagging system

When it comes to pet supplies, the right bag can often be the deciding factor for consumers. Concetti’s Trevor Mitford explains how its technology is helping bulk baggers keep up with changing consumer behaviour.

When it comes to pet supplies, the right bag can often be the deciding factor for consumers. Concetti’s Trevor Mitford explains how its technology is helping bulk baggers keep up with changing consumer behaviour.

Australia has one of the highest rates of pet ownership in the world, with almost two thirds of households owning a pet, according to a survey conducted by Animals Medicines Australia in 2016. In fact, the survey found that pets actually outnumber humans.

The survey also found Australians spend around $12.2 billion on their pets every year, around $1475 per year for a dog, and around $1029 for cats.

Trevor Mitford, Sales Manager at Concetti, says Australians value their pets and are quality conscious when it comes to purchasing supplies.

“Pets have historically played an important part in Australian households and emerging time-constrained lifestyles are playing a crucial role in developing the shift towards retail and commercial products,” Mr Mitford says.

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“Australia is one of the top mature markets for bulk pet products outside of Western Europe and North America, while in the Asia Pacific region, the majority of sales are currently concentrated in Japan, which is also relatively mature.

“The growth in the Australian market can be attributed to the increasing commodity prices than the overall increase in population of pets, as well as the rise of dual-income families with no children and high disposable incomes.”

Retail pet food bags can range from 100 grams or below to 25 kilograms, made out of polyethylene, polyethylene terephthalate, multi-layer aluminium polyethylene, or paper. The bags can also vary, from a stand-up, shelf-ready pouch to an industrial style sack, with a number of different closure systems.

Mr Mitford says pet food producers know a bag can influence purchasing decisions and that superior barrier quality, stain resistance and high-quality graphics are no longer optional.

Consumer and retail demands are
continuing to drive the move towards plastic
film and away from traditional multi-wall paper bags. At the same time, other features like handles, re-closable bags and easy opening are expanding into the pet food industry, with zippers becoming increasingly desirable,” he says.

Cat litter is in a similar situation, with the product itself made from many different materials such as clays (bentonite, zeolite), wood chips, silica gel, recycled paper, corn, ground wheat, ground walnuts and even grass.

“Each of these materials may have different handling requirements, making it difficult to
have a standard packaging system for all,”
Mr Mitford says.

While there are some similarities between the two pet products, litter is sold by volume while food is sold based on weight, so a single packaging line must be able to manage both.

Pet supply manufacturers can range in size from multi-national to local family-owned brands. Mr Mitford says the ability to meet the widest possible demands, current and future, is vital in this complex market.

“Packaging machinery needs to be able to provide flawless bag presentation, perfect sealing, and closure and flexibility in the range of pack sizes. In addition, it needs to handle different closure methods, flexible palletising for cartons, shelf ready packs and standard bags, and innovative bag-in-box facilities,” he says.

Concetti pet food solutions generally comprise of two systems, one for bags that range from 100 grams to five kilograms and a larger format for two kilograms to 25 kilograms of pet food.

Flexibility is a major focus for Concetti. The company’s packaging lines always include features such as automatic format changing within 60 to 90 seconds, multiple closure systems, and on request a combination of form fill seal (FFS) bags and pre-made bags on the one machine.

Its business model in Australia aims to provide its customers peace of mind. Mr Mitford says this involves building partnerships with clients.

“We don’t know everything about our client’s company or their markets, but by combining our knowledge with theirs, we can find the best way forward together for mutual benefit,” he says.

The partnership involves a careful study of the packaging requirements, where assumptions are avoided. Products are tested with extreme attention to detail and developed with layout drawings and specifications.

An example of this can be seen in the relationship between BEC Feed Solutions and Concetti.

BEC Feed Solutions is redeveloping its Carole Park location, in Queensland, to turn it into a state-of-the-art premix manufacturing facility, equipped with unique integrated technology. The company had collaborated with Concetti for the past three years to develop a custom packaging line instead of two independent lines, saving significantly on infrastructure costs.

During this process, BEC Feed Solutions visited the Concetti headquarters in Italy and worked closely with its engineers as part of the development.

“Concetti are constantly listening to our customers and investing heavily into the research and development of our technology to keep pace with expectations.”