Global demand for hemp products is growing at an unprecedented rate, with researchers expecting the market to expand nearly 16 percent over the next seven years. In the U.S., demand for hemp is on the rise as consumers become more aware of the crop and manufacturers continue to introduce new and exciting hemp products.
Hemp growers are the backbone of this thriving market. But as the industry expands with new suppliers, every grower is being challenged to get the most out of each and every harvest. Perhaps now more than ever, reliable packaging for both storage and shipping is vital for successfully turning a profit.
For many growers, bulk bags have emerged as an ideal solution for ensuring the safety and quality of every shipment of hemp. Here, we take a closer look at the benefits of bulk bags for the hemp industry.
What Are Bulk Bags?
Bulk bags are also known as flexible intermediate bulk containers (FIBCs). These industrial-grade bags are made of virgin polypropylene resins that are crafted into a flexible fabric. The result is a strong, durable bag that is ideal for storing and transporting bulk dry materials, such as dried hemp, sand, or even animal feed.
Bulk bags are used across several industries, including the aggregate, agriculture, chemical, construction, food, fertilizer, rubber, aquaculture, pet food, and pharmaceutical markets.
Packaging Concerns for Hemp
Hemp growers must select their packaging carefully to ensure the safety and quality of their product. Heat, UV light, and air circulation all cause essential aromatic hemp oils to volatize and degrade. Fresh hemp, with a 17% CBD oil content when initially dried, can rapidly degrade down to 2% within a few months. In addition, unless the hemp is stored under ideal conditions it is also subject to various molds and mildews. Of course, hemp must be thoroughly dried before it goes into storage. At that point, the packaging should effectively safeguard the product until it’s ready for the next stages of processing.
The top concerns around hemp packaging include:
- Humidity, temperature extremes, and ultraviolet (UV) light: Hemp must be protected from excess humidity, hot and cold temperatures, and excessive UV light. If your packaging isn’t adequate, your hemp may go bad due to mold problems or may degrade in potency.
- Environmentally controlled storage: In addition to appropriate packaging, finding the right storage space is also a concern for hemp. To avoid problems with mold, hemp must be sufficiently dried and then stored in environmentally controlled warehouse space with low humidity.
- Shelf life of packaging: Finally, it’s important to select packaging that has an appropriate shelf life for your needs. This may be particularly true over the next few years, because storage times may be extended as FDA regulations fluctuate and supply surges.
Why Bulk Bags Are Best for Hemp
A variety of storage methods that are well-suited for other products simply won’t work for the hemp industry. For example, canvas sacks don’t provide protection against moisture or UV light, and grain bags aren’t proven yet for the hemp industry.
Bulk bags made from polypropylene resins solve these common problems for hemp growers. Bulk bags are the best packaging solution for hemp growers for several key reasons:
- They offer breathability while also providing moisture and UV protection
- They have already been in use in the hemp industry and are proven to be reliable and effective in storing hemp.
- They are well-suited to high-speed filling applications, which saves growers time.
- Bulk bags offer safe working loads of up to 6,000 pounds—though typical farm and industrial grow operations put 300 - 500lbs per bag.
- The bags come in customizable designs, including food-grade designs, to suit any grower’s needs.
- They can be hermetically sealed to provide a modified atmospheric packaging option for shelf stabilizing hemp for future processing.
Let’s take a look at the two types of bulk bags:
Standard bulk bags
Standard bulk bags are a strong, high-performance option for hemp farmers to use both in the field and for short-term storage.
Bulk bags for modified atmospheric bulk packaging
Bulk bags that are specifically engineered for the hemp industry and are used with special equipment to shelf-stabilize hemp for storage prior to processing. In addition to the benefits mentioned above, these bags also provide:
- Additional UV protection: These bags are manufactured with black fabric to add extra UV protection.
- Improved shelf life: These bulk bags include a bag liner that is used with special filling equipment that nitrogen flushes the bag to remove all oxygen as it is vacuum sealed. This anaerobic atmosphere provides enhanced moisture and oxygen protection, which slows down any mold growth and allows the bag to be stored longer.
- Greater CBD oil retention: The special bag liner also allows processors to retain 35 percent more CBD oil in the plant for processing. That’s because the liner prevents damage to the trichomes of the plant and valuable CBD oil doesn’t leach from the plant into the bag.
Of course, not all bulk bags are created equal. When exploring packaging options for your hemp harvest, be sure to look for bags that are made with high-quality construction techniques and have been shown to be reliable for hemp storage.
Rethink Your Packaging Plan
Hemp growers know the importance of effective packaging. The U.S. hemp industry is growing rapidly, and best practices are still being established. Already, many hemp growers have found that canvas bags, plastic totes, grain sacks, and low-quality polypropylene bags simply don’t protect their investment.
Bulk bags meet the specific needs of the hemp industry and can be specially engineered to provide enhanced UV protection, a longer shelf life, and greater CBD oil retention. As you work to compete in this fast-growing market, now is the time to consider whether your packaging is truly meeting the exacting needs of your hemp product. If you're interested in FIBC bulk bags for your hemp farm, click here to learn more about the benefits and pricing.