As 2019 came to an end and 2020 was just beginning, the world saw a drastic de-escalation in the ever-changing trade war between the United States and China. We wrote about the potential impact the trade war could have back in early 2019 with this post (“Impact of the USA-China Trade War on the FIBC Industry”). At that time, it was impossible to know just how far the trade war would escalate and which products the tariffs would ultimately impact the most.
If you’re reading this and haven’t been disconnected from the outside world for the last 60-days, then I don’t need to tell you that the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) has completely flipped the world on its head. Global markets, supply chains, manufacturers, and financial markets have all come to a turtle paced crawl in the last 30 days with the impacts being felt in every corner of the globe – and the FIBC industry is no exception.
Companies and users are constantly finding new ways to use bulk bags as the FIBC industry continues to develop and expand into new markets and industries. At National Bulk Bag, we are continually amazed at the conversations we have with current and prospective customers about their innovative product and/or application uses. It’s a testament to not only the ingenuity of end-users but also the flexible and versatile nature of woven polypropylene bags.
As new industries emerge, new opportunities emerge with them. Previously regulated industries like hemp and cannabis are suddenly open for business in the United States and have become large users of products like FIBC bulk bags. However, with these new opportunities have also come plenty of new challenges – especially inside industries that while legal, remain heavily regulated with guidelines and laws often being completely different state to state.
At National Bulk Bag, we address a variety of industry applications and product needs. The organics industry which includes but isn’t limited to food, hemp, and other agricultural products category presents perhaps the greatest set of unique requirements and challenges. This is primarily driven by the fact that these materials are grown in the ground and when harvested have shelf lives. The longer these perishable items spend between harvest and processing, the greater the risks for contamination and spoiling.
As the hemp and biomass industry continues to grow in the US, a diverse field of growers and farmers is also emerging. With this diversity comes different needs, challenges, and day-to-day operations. One of the more defining characteristics of each individual operation is the size. The size of an operation impacts so much of the other parts of the business. Everything from growing, processing, storage and transportation – all of these things are impacted by the size of an operation in some way.
The hemp industry in the United States is growing fast and creating tons of new jobs and opportunities in the process. With that rapid growth has come with a rush of new entrepreneurs, growers, and processors. However, specific challenges related to the handling, packing, transportation, and storage of hemp as a product have also come with this rapid industry growth.
GFSI is at the center of all things food grade in the FIBC industry. As the largest food safety organization in the world, their ability to recognize and certify the various food safety programs is critical to any products involved in the production, distribution, or processing of food. This is why at National Bulk Bag we only distribute food grade bags that have been certified by GFSI recognized organizations. Five of the many GFSI recognized programs most impact the bulk bag industry – we wrote about them in this post (click here to learn more).
In 2018, the revamped Farm Bill directed the US Department of Agriculture to establish a national regulatory framework for hemp production in the United States – essentially clearing the path for the legalization of growing hemp across the country. The USDA took that direction and established an interim final rule that outlines provision for the USDA to approve plans submitted by the states for domestic production.
At National Bulk Bag, we pride ourselves in maintaining up-to-date industry knowledge and information, especially as it relates to food grade FIBCs. The food industry is particularly sensitive given the large regulatory environment – and rightfully so. Having the trust of the food processors and producers we sell to is extremely important to our reputation as a distributor.
We talk a lot about food grade FIBCs on this blog. At National Bulk Bag, we believe (especially in the food grade industry) it’s extremely important to build an educational database for our customers and potential customers. The food industry is a heavily regulated industry where mistakes can be extremely costly. Contamination, regulatory violations, and improper food handling are unacceptable and can be downright dangerous.
BRC (British Retail Consortium), now recently rebranded to BRCGS (British Retail Consortium Global Standards) has recently updated the guidelines for their standards with their Issue 8 release.
We at National Bulk Bag take a lot of pride in our ability to be a spot-need filler of FIBCs. However, as the industry has transformed, so have we – and part of that process has been becoming more of a solutions provider in the industry as opposed to just a spot-need filler. Dealing with businesses looking for larger and more complex solutions has also drastically changed the product offerings we deliver to our customers as a distributor.
Staying up with the latest and most innovative trends in the FIBC industry is extremely important as a distributor of bulk bags. However, it is equally important for buyers, suppliers, and/or anyone else involved in the industry. This is especially true when it comes to the trends regarding the food industry and food grade bags due to the delicate nature of the industry.
For many users of bulk bags, the rules and regulations that surround the food industry are an everyday part of life. Dealing with the various certifications, processes, standards, and testing is extremely tedious but crucial part of maintaining a clean and successful food-grade facility.
As a distributor of FIBCs, our overseas manufacturing partners greatly impact the product we sell. A great amount of the value we add as a distributor comes from the relationships we have with our manufacturers and our ability to properly vet them and the products they ship. These manufacturers not only make the bags themselves; they conduct QA (quality assurance) and product testing on site before the bags are shipped – an extremely important part of the procurement process (for a deeper look into what quality distributors do to vet their suppliers, check out this blog).
If you’ve been following the National Bulk Bag blog, you’ll know that providing readers with quality information about FIBCs is a top priority. The hope is that if our readers are armed with the best information, they can make the best purchasing decision and ensure they get a quality bag from a quality distributor. A big part of that process is quality control and quality assurance (QA).
FIBC liners is a core topic on the National Bulk Bag blog. In fact, if you click here you can check out all of the great content we’ve written on liners. However, because we’ve covered the various types, uses, constructions and material types over a long period, a lot of our content is scattered through many blogs.
Globalization has impacted the lives of Americans and American Companies in significant ways. Perhaps one of the most impactful effects of globalization has occurred in product supply chains – and the FIBC industry is no exception. As we have noted several times in the past, the vast majority of bulk bags are now produced overseas – primarily in Asian countries. The benefits of this shift have been great for the industry as a whole, but it hasn’t come without drawbacks.
We’ve asked this question quite a few times on the National Bulk Bag blog: how do buyers know they are working with a quality distributor? Quality overseas suppliers is a key attribute that sets US distributors apart from the competition. If you don’t have quality suppliers, you won’t have quality product – and you, the customer, end up paying the price.