Pet Food Packaging Printing

Pacific Bag
Pet Food Packaging Printing

By Kyle Knott, Senior Account Manager


One of the major hurdles for any pet food company is deciding on printed packaging. This is especially true for start-ups and small private label brands.  I field calls all day with customers saying, “I need professional looking bags so I can compete with the big guys.” For a lot of companies, printing bags can be a major investment and their packaging can make or break their product. Everyone is counting on their bags to be the company spokesperson on the store-shelf. And while the art work is obviously paramount to the overall success of a bag, the cost of printing those bags needs to be discussed.

In this article, I will walk you through some of the different printing types available and the costs associated with each. My hope is, you will come away with a general understanding of what printing entails and feel comfortable moving forward to creating that perfect billboard.    

Rotogravure

Rotogravure printing is one of the oldest and most commonly used print practices around the world. For the purposes of this article, I will skip the boring details. For the average company, purchasing bags comes down to several questions: 

  1. Will my bags look as nice and professional?
  2. How many do I need to buy?
  3. What’s it going to cost?
  4. How long does it take?

While gravure printing is widely considered to be one of the best printing options available, it is not for the faint of heart. Typical run sizes per SKU can range from 5,000-50,000 bags, depending on the size of the bag.  

For example, a typical 5lb bag (Pouch, Gusseted, Quad Seal, Flat bottom) would be around 10,000 units per SKU.  As the bag size gets larger, the MOQ goes lower (i.e. 15lb bag – 7,500 units per SKU).

The other thing to consider is the “set-up” costs. Set up cost refers to the printing plates or cylinders needed to print your art work.  Our typical cylinder costs will run $300-$400 per cylinder. Most wide web printing presses typically have 8-10 printing stations.  That means, your art work can be no more than 8-10 colors. So, if you have art work built in 5 colors, your set-up cost will be around $1,500. Keep in mind, this is PER SKU.

Lastly, the lead time for a gravure printed is typically 6-8 weeks on re-orders plus an additional 3-4 weeks for a first time order (artwork approval, cylinder engraving etc.).

Digital Printing

Digital printing is an exciting development in the world of packaging. And while it is a new comer to the field of printing, it is already making waves.

Digital printing allows for short-runs of printed bags. Minimum order quantities start at 1,000 bags. And while the sizes are limited (2oz-5lb) it has allowed an entire segment of the pet food world to compete against the “big guys.” Unlike Gravure printing, there are no “set up fees” associated with the art work. In other words, your art work doesn’t cost you anything (at least on the printing side of things).  

Most often the lead times for a new digital bag project are shorter than a traditional rotogravure printed bag (6-8 weeks vs. 10-12 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 selling-out of their product. But, beware, the finished cost of a digital printed bag is much higher than a gravure printed bag.

As you can see, there are different print types to suit most anyone’s needs. And while there are pros & cons associated with any printing, at least you have a choice. I hope this article shed a little bit of light on an otherwise complicated topic. Pacific Bag is extremely knowledgeable of all aspects of printing and bag making. We welcome any opportunity to discuss your packaging needs and look forward to helping you pick out what works best for you and your company.