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The Future of Petfood Packaging

Kelle Vandenberg

By: Kyle Knott

Companies are always looking for ways to differentiate their products on the store shelves. This can be done in multiple ways; bag format (pouch, gusseted, block bottom, etc…), graphics (matte, registered matte, etc...), consumer convenience (zippers, handles, etc…) and many others. However, a lot of these are widely used leaving savvy marketers to wonder, what’s next?

The block bottom bag (often referred to as ‘flat bottom bag”) is the latest bag format in pet food packaging. I see this style more and more in every pet food store I visit, from big box stores to small boutiques. However, the block bottom bag is the first exciting bag format to launch in the last 20 years. No doubt about it, new packaging formats don’t come along often. More importantly, they are often resisted as they require manufacturers to change the way they package and ship the food.

The Paper Bag

In order to talk about current and future trends, I think it is helpful to briefly discuss the past.

As I stated at beginning of this article, new packaging formats do not come around often. The amount of time and convincing it took to get people to switch from paper to plastic was years in the making. Our company CEO (Mark Howley) and VP of Product Development (Bill Walters) helped change the landscape of the pet food industry with their 1995 pet food packaging study. The results of which showed not only that dogs would accept food packaged in plastic bags, but they actually preferred it. The study proved not only scientifically but also via palatability studies that air tight barrier packaging outperformed the paper bag. 

Not all new developments were unmitigated successes. This was especially true when it came to large laminated pet food bags. These bags, while providing superior performance to older brethren, had some serious challenges. Some of the benefits of the laminated bag such as an airtight closed bag and glossy appearance also created its own challenges. 

Things like trapped air within the package that would have normally been pushed out of the paper bag could not escape thus making palletizing unstable. Machinery that was built for the filling and closing of paper bags were not specifically designed for plastic packaging exasperating an already difficult situation.

However, solutions have been developed such as one-way and two-way valves, perforations and micro-perforations that allow trapped air to be released.

Anti-skid coatings and Hi-Co Efficient of Friction of plastics were developed to assist with keeping the laminate bags in place while being palletized. New packaging lines were developed with plastic packaging in mind.

Pacific Bag was one of the first laminate pet food packaging companies in the U.S. We helped define and establish film structures and formats that are still being used today, many of which are considered the industry standard.

Biotre ™- Continuing the Conversation

Conservation and waste reduction are being integrated into our everyday lives more and more. Being a socially responsible company means listening to our diverse customer base and figuring out ways to not only help them but, also do our part to help the planet.

As a packaging company, one of the most asked questions we get is “do you have any environmentally friendly options”? The short answer is, yes. Introducing Biotre!

We spent several years experimenting and trialing different packaging materials. What we developed was a material that is 60% (by weight) renewable wood pulp. The wood pulp portion is biodegradable. The remaining 40% (by weight) of the bag is Polyethylene (PE) with an additive that is designed to make it disintegrate significantly faster than standard plastic.

This award winning material has been well received by our customers and we are currently selling it worldwide. The drawback of Biotre, is the current offering can only hold 2-3lbs of weight before breakage occurs. For pet food, that doesn’t leave a lot of options as most food is sold in the 12lb-40lb category.

We are continuing to work toward large format environmental options that will reduce our carbon footprint and meet the needs of our customers. Until then, we encourage consumers to find ways to reuse the bags around the home.

Your Pet is Your Child

These days, most people consider their pets to be members of the family. Everything from clothing to tooth paste has been adapted for your fur-baby. We have been fortunate enough to work with a Texas based company that takes humanizing your pets to the next level. They sell everything from seasonings to dry food. What makes this company stand out is their customers can customize each bag with their pets name and photo on each bag of food they purchase. The bags were specifically sized to fit in a common household pantry, not the garage. Now, if you could only teach them to use the toilet instead of drinking out of it.

Digital Printing

One of the major hurdles for small pet food companies is the printing of the bags. I field calls all day with customers asking “I need professional looking bags so I can compete with the big guys”. In the past, most printing minimums made it impossible for a start-up to get a printed bag. Digital printing has made that a thing of the past.

Digital printing minimums start at 1,000 bags and there are no “set up fees” associated with the art work. Often times, the lead times are shorter than a traditional rotogravure printed bag (6 weeks vs. 12 weeks). The shortened lead time coupled with the low cost of setting up art work makes it easier for a small company to hit the ground running and start competing with the big guys. You can find out more about digital printing by visiting our website at

These are just a few trends happening around the packaging side of pet food. 



Pet Food Packaging: Store Observations

Kelle Vandenberg

By: Kyle Knott

When it comes to retail sales, packaging is everything. You have a fraction of a second to get your product noticed by consumers. To this end, companies are constantly looking at new ways to stand out on the store shelf. In this article, I will explore some of the recent packaging trends I have seen while shopping for my own pets. 

The largest change I have seen in the pet food market is the packaging material. Up until a few years ago, the multi-wall paper sack was the reigning king of pet food packaging. As premium and super premium diets became increasingly popular, pet food companies started looking for ways to differentiate their high-end diets from the low cost, big box store pet food. Plastic packaging provides a host of options not available with a paper substrate. Print-ability, strength and overall aesthetic appeal are just a few upsides. Couple that with recent technologies in air release methods ( and available anti-skid coatings and you’ve got a bag that not only functions well at the manufacturing level but, also looks superior to any plain, old paper bag on the store shelf.

Another trend is matte and registered matte finishes. Matte and registered matte finishes have been the “go-to” look for the natural foods, coffee and tea world for several years. Matte finish is typically an overlaquer that is put over the outside of the bag. This creates a muted affect to the graphics on the bag. A registered matte finish is the same however, you knock out elements of the matte to bring back a “shiny” appearance. This can be a great way to make your company name or logo really POP off the bag while the background graphics lend a hand to the overall buying experience.

Zippers in the big bag category (12lb-35lb) were all the rage a few years ago. This seems to have tapered off in the small to medium size store category, as market research suggests most consumers pour food into another container after opening it the first time. Reaching into a bag of food and scooping out product can be a messy proposition. Zippers can also add as much as, $0.15 to the per bag cost. A cost producers are not willing to pass on to their customers.

Lastly, packaging is getting smaller and smaller. As the cost of raw materials and ingredients increase, companies look at ways for minimizing the impact. Instead of passing a price increase through, they start by downsizing the amount of product being sold. The old “stand-by” 20lb and 40lb bags have given way to 12lb-15lb and 33lb-35lb bags.

These are just a few of the many changes I have seen in my favorite stores. Things are constantly changing in the retail environment. 

The Stand-Up Pouch vs. Block Bottom Bag

Kelle Vandenberg

By: Kyle Knott, Senior Accounts Manager

Picking out the right packaging format can be tricky. You need to attract a large amount of customers in a short amount of time. Your package needs to be your “spokesman” on the store shelf. It should distinguish you from your competition, as well as convey the quality of the product inside.

Two of the most common formats used for packaging pet food are the Stand Up Pouch and Block Bottom Bag.

The stand-up pouch has been the “go-to” bag for several decades. When it was introduced, it revolutionized the packaging market. It came standard with a zipper, tear notch and you could add a hang hole if you desired. No more header cards. In addition to the consumer friendly features, it offers two large panels (front and back) for printing. And most importantly, it stands up!

Different bottom gussets? 

There are two different bottom gussets used when manufacturing the stand-up pouch, Doyen and Plow bottom. The weight of the product going inside the bag will determine which style of bottom we recommend using.  The doyen bottom is used for lighter weights, usually 2oz-1lb, while the plow bottom is utilized for 2lbs & up.

The stand-up pouch is often the cheaper of the two formats.

The block bottom bag (also referred to as “flat bottom bag”) is the next evolution in packaging. Utilizing all of the best features of the stand up pouch and quad seal bag, the block bottom bag is unique in that, it gives you 360 degrees of real estate for printing your company information, logo, feeding instructions, etc. Whether the bag is standing up or lying flat, the block bottom bag is designed to get your product noticed at every angle.

Side Panels

The side panels of the block bottom bag are made from a separate web of material. This means they can be made out of an entirely different substrate than the front, back and bottom of the bag, I.e. Clear. This can give you an edgy look over the traditional square or oval window on the front or back of the bag.

Pocket Zipper

The pocket zipper offers the convenience of a zipper with the benefit of easy filling. However, you have several other zipper options available as well. You can read more about the zippers here.   

PBi Pet Food Packaging Reclosure Options

Kelle Vandenberg

By Robert Hepburn, Vice President of Sales

We get a lot of questions on how to reclose petfood bags after the bags have been opened by the consumer.

There are many different answers to this question depending on packaging size, format of the bag, cost and particular needs of the brand manufacture and consumer demand.  

The good news is that PBi has access to most current reclosure devices on the market so we have the solution for your specific pet food packaging needs.

What is a reclosure? 

The primary closure on most of the packaging we stock and sell is a heat seal.   The bags are filled at the production facility and then heat sealed closed using a heat sealer. 

The consumer then opens the bag to use product.   And unless the package is a single serve item, it must be reclosed.   The method that consumer uses to close the package is the reclosure. 

PBi Reclosures:


Press-to-Close Zipper (PTC Zipper):   The most ubiquitous reclosure device for petfood treats and bags is the Press-to-close Zipper.   There are literally hundreds of the different sizes and shapes of these zippers on the market. Models range from ezo-opening, to super-secure.  Many are single track zippers, but are available in multiple tracks to increase the likelihood of reclosing.   There are powder proof zippers.   Zippers for liquids.  Zippers with wide zip flanges (external or internal ridge, or rip, for strength) so the consumer can more easily grab the zipper to open the bag.  

We have many zipper formats available in both our stock and custom printed packaging.  Please give us a call to discuss your zipper options


The Pocket Zipper & Tear Tab:   Is a combination easy-open/easy reclosure device.  Installed on the front of the package, the tear/pull tab is a cutout tab that can be easily grabbed and torn open – allowing easy access to the bag.  Below the tear line is the built in press-to-close zipper.   The zipper functions the same manner as other zippers.   Because the combination zipper is installed on the front of the bag, this allows the package to be fully opened at the production facility for ease of filling.   This especially true with large treats and bones that need a wide open bag for filling but smaller open for removing the treat/bone. 

Hook & Hook Closures:  Similar to Velcro the hook and hook reclosure allows for a more positive closure than the zipper.   We have partnered with Aplix® for their new EASY-LOCK - Hook to Hook Closure system.  The closure addresses leak-resistant convenience, product protection and improvements in ergonomics for young and old.   PBi offers the Aplix® EASY LOCK closure in both our stock and custom printed bags. Keep an eye out for additional details on our new stock product line.

Sliders:   The slider addresses one of the challenges on the PTC zipper which is when the zipper gets too long, the likelihood of getting a complete closure is less likely – allowing product to spill.   The slider, allows for a positive closure on big bags (15lb and above) where the thickness of the bag and the length of the zipper make the package difficult to close.   PBi offers the slider bag in our custom packaging lines.  Call for details.  

The Tin-Tie:   Commonly used on our paper bags, the tin-tie has been used on paper packaging for treat bags for 50+ years.   Made of a malleable tin covered with paper.   The tin-tie extends past the edges of the bag.  To close, roll down the bag and fold the sides of the tin-tie back over across the bag.   The tin-tie comes pre-applied to many of our treat bags or can be added as a separate item that can be installed on a bag. 

Resealable Tape:  Although this is not a common pet food packaging reclosure, we commonly see this for sealing coffee bags like side gusseted, quad seal, and block bottom bags. The resealable tape will secure the rolled top of the bag to the body of the bag. It can be used to close your bag for later use, and will keep product fresh. There is a flap at the end of each piece of tape without adhesive, making it easier to lift and reclose.

Through the Lens: Dukale's Dream

Kelle Vandenberg

Ethiopia. It is an old land of ancient people with courage so calm that it whispers rather than shouts. It is a courage that speaks of hope, of strength, of unfailing determination. It is the land that many of us know as the birthplace of coffee.

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