WATSON FARMS: WHY THE PYO INDUSTRY SHOULD ADOPT REUSABLE PACKAGING

apple picking article

WATSON FARMS: WHY THE PYO INDUSTRY SHOULD ADOPT REUSABLE PACKAGING

Watson Farms, located in Bowmanville, ON, started its full time operation in 1972 with Paul Watson.

It’s a family-friendly farmer’s market that offers different activities as well as a variety of fruits and vegetables. Most notably, Watson Farms hosts a variety of apples.

Initially they offered customers plastic bags to store their produce but thee was an issue.

The handles were always breaking and weren’t sturdy enough to support their goods.

Why switch to eco-friendly reusable packaging?

With the growing trend of the 3 Rs (reduce, reuse, recycle) and the breaking-bag issue, Paul knew he had to change something.

  “If I could find a bag for around $1 then I’ll give them out! They’ve got my name on them, it’s advertising, I can [customise] the bag, and it’ll work perfectly… and it has”

– Paul Watson 

Although the price of their current bags are more costly than the single-use plastics, Paul definitely sees the benefits and difference in quality.

He believes that these factors are more than enough to justify the price difference.

Reasonably, Paul considers his packaging as both a cost and asset.

He believes it’s a cost of doing business, as would any packaging, but it’s an asset as it leads to additional marketing with minimal effort.

Watson Farms market, with bags on display (bottom row)

 “I see people using the bags for things other than apples and that was our goal. We see them coming back year after year to fill the bags again”

– Paul Watson 

What impact did packaging trends have on bag design?

In terms of retail, packaging is solely decided by the seller and there is little, if any, input from the producer of the goods.

Customers are also accustomed to certain packaging (e.g., plastic quarts for strawberries) and it’s difficult to change that mindset.

Paul realised there was a demand by the consumer to know what the product they were buying looked like from various angles.

They were no longer satisfied with just looking at the top layer of produce in a package! That was how the idea of the transparent sides was born.

Wholesale is where Paul is able to make a difference with his reusable bags.

He even noticed a difference when using solid cardboard quarts as opposed to mesh quarts for the customers to look at the produce.

Watson Farms showcasing different varieties of apples

  “The bags I use are a perfect example. Customers want to see what’s on the bottom, not just the top… I would set out mesh and cardboard quarts of strawberries– none of the cardboard were sold until all of the mesh baskets were gone!”

–Paul Watson 

Paul believes there’s still room for improvement in the industry even though reusable packaging is more prominent now.

It’s difficult to find an alternative that’s both suitable for the product, and cost-effective – which the LeKAC team is working on!

How did this change impact their business, and how did LeKAC play a role in it?

Believe it or not, LeKAC actually wasn’t the first company to create these particular bags!

Originally, another company designed Paul’s ideal bag, but they did not meet his standard.

After a disappointing experience, Paul hoped we would be able to help him.

  “We walked away from them and tried you guys and the bags were wonderful. You fixed every mistake that they made.”

-PaulWatson 

After closely working with each other, the LeKAC team and Paul were able to create a bag that went ‘above and beyond’.

Reusable bag being used for apple-picking on site

Once Watson Farms switched to LeKAC’s quality and expertise, there have been no breaks in handles, bags, or hopes!

Paul goes through over 10,000 reusable bags a year, creating branding opportunities outside of his farm. He’s able to reach a wider audience once customers reuse his bags for groceries and other things.

These reusable bags are much more sturdy and reliable than single-use plastic, and solve the angle issue!

If you’re in this industry then take a tip from Paul – showcase them with the sides facing outward to attract more customers!

 “I wouldn’t hesitate to tell anyone to give you a shot. I can’t speak for all your products, but as for the ones I’ve gotten from you – I’m very happy”

– PaulWatson 

LeKAC Sourcing Ltd is your one stop solution for all custom needs!

We would love to help you make your dreams a reality so contact us for more information on design, products, and more!

Take a look at our custom catalogue for fruit picking packaging click here

Visit the Watson Farms website for more information on their operations and recipes!

Gabrielle Ho
gabrielle@lekac.com
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