Despite maintaining a laser focus on the importance of branding and packaging, there have historically been barriers for all but the “big boys” in terms of flexible packaging design and procurement. Minimum order quantities for custom printed flexible packaging can be upwards of 50,000 pieces per SKU (often higher) depending on size, type of package, and material structure. Set up costs for pre-press work including mold and cylinder fabrication can run deep into the thousands of dollars for even an ordinary pouch without any specialized features such as a pull tab or shaped pouch. So how does a brand owner get access to affordable packaging that serves a function as well as conveys the product’s message?
A Unique Business Model
Founded as a division of APBA Global, Inc., FlexiblePouches.com has been able to leverage its parent company’s global reach and logistics network to access overseas manufacturing. However, we are 100% American owned and operated, headquartered in the United States in Houston, Texas.
Presently, we operate out of three flexible packaging plants in China and an additional plant (used as a backup) in India. In addition to lower costs associated simply with manufacturing at offshore centers, our production volumes of tens of millions of units annually allow us an economies of scale advantage. The end result is an opportunity for all companies—regardless of size—to delineate their brand’s value in a creative and individualistic way on every single product.
Better Print Quality in Asia versus North America? Absolutely.
In the arena of customized flexible packaging there are two primary printing methods: flexographic and rotogravure—with the latter being far superior in quality as it produces high color density graphics. The former, however, virtually dominates the United States market where about 80% of all flexible substrate printing employs a flexographic technique. This is partly due to the increased labor requirements of operating a rotogravure press as well as the costs associated with custom producing the 5 to 10 copper-plated, steel cylinders required for each print job! Recall that each rotogravure printing cylinder must be engraved with a reverse mirror image specific to that color.
While defendants of flexography will argue that modern advances in the technology produce prints “close enough” to that of rotogravure, brand owners of flexible packaging disagree. Research conducted by German market research firm GfK found that four out of five brand owners preferred the print quality of rotogravure over that of flexographic, concluding that the significant quality advantage was the single most relevant reason to select the rotogravure printing process.
While the cost savings of outsourcing are enormous, so are the associated challenges. Navigating the overseas supply chain to locate potential suppliers and determine whether or not they are even reputable can prove to be a nightmare. This is before factoring in cultural considerations, which means communication barriers and limited ability for oversight. Not to mention, upfront payment policies and the associated trade risk can be nerve-wrecking for a business that hasn’t transacted internationally before. Throw in the complexity of logistics, international trade laws, customs regulations both overseas and at home, along with other requirements such as minimum import tariff bonds for shipments incoming to the United States and you’ve got yourself the recipe for a headache!
Even the most well-versed buyers succumb to the challenges of “figuring it out alone.” Every so often a customer will approach us after they’ve tried going direct to a vendor in Asia, virtually always frustrated and thousands of dollars out of pocket. He or she might have paid large sums of money upfront to the bank account of a company they’ve never met, unaware of the miscellaneous charges such as freight and cylinders that are usually extra. Or, the client might be surprised to discover a last minute price increase from what was initially agreed upon, a tactic commonly employed across Chinese firms of all levels of reputability across all industries. The justification is usually a “rapid increase in raw material prices,” putting the customer into a bind that cannot be solved by sitting in a time zone 12 hours away.
Thankfully, FlexiblePouches.com is here to help. Unlike other companies who usually bid out your projects on websites like Alibaba, we provide on-site representation at our own plants whom we have worked with for years. With staff on the ground at our factories, we oversee and manage all activities across the entire project cycle. Our aim is to ensure our customers get the quality products they deserve without worrying about the real-time issues that will occur even after all i’s are dotted and all t’s are crossed.
Count On Us
FlexiblePouches.com strives to be not just your packaging supplier, rather a business partner whose interests are aligned with yours.
As your trusted source for everything flexible packaging, we are committed to always going the extra mile for you and ultimately growing with your business.