Flexible Packaging for the Cannabis Industry: What You Need to Know

Posted by Conitex Sonoco Team on August 11,2020

The fast-growing U.S. cannabis industry can be a challenging market for both new and well-established growers. Growing and processing hemp is a complex process that requires care and attention to detail, from start to finish. For this market, packaging isn’t just about moving the product from one place to another; it’s actually a key part of success.

From the moment hemp is harvested, farmers and processors are continually battling challenges such as mold and decomposition. And while this burgeoning industry is still discovering its own best practices, the use of flexible packaging, particularly bulk bags, has emerged as a reliable solution for hemp. 

 

Handle with Care

Hemp requires an exceptional level of care, even after it’s harvested. That’s because as soon as the plant is harvested, it’s vulnerable to heat and UV light, which can cause its essential aromatic oils to volatilize and degrade. 

Hemp oil volatilizes faster than any other natural plant oil. And if the plant isn’t stored in ideal conditions, it becomes vulnerable to mold and mildew. To protect their investment in each crop, it’s important for growers to thoroughly dry and carefully store hemp so it can safely reach the processing facility. 

 

Bag It

When working with such a temperamental crop, you can’t use just any type of storage bag. Before you choose a packaging solution, you need to take into account the needs of the plant.

Let’s take a look at the top considerations for hemp storage for both growers and processors: 

Breathability 

Once hemp is properly dried to an ideal moisture level, it should be stored in packaging that is breathable. This will reduce the chance of mold growth, which could degrade the quality of the product or potentially ruin it entirely. 

Uncoated duffle-top bags made of virgin polypropylene fabric provide breathability between the stalks, leaves, and flowers of cannabis. These bags come in a variety of customizable sizes and have a roomy duffle top that makes it easy for workers to add dried hemp.

If you have a larger operation, duffle-top bags work well with automatic packaging equipment to eliminate  the need for manual packaging. For additional moisture control and to prevent contamination, consider using FIBC bags with standard 1.0 mil poly coatings.

FDA requirements for food

The market for hemp-based food products is exploding. However, if a crop may be used in food, it’s subject to even more scrutiny than other plant products. For this reason, be sure to select hemp bags that meet FDA requirements for packaging that may come in contact with food.

UV protection

Over time, UV exposure will degrade hemp. Look for hemp bags with a special UV coating that helps reduce degradation.

Longer-term storage

On top of these considerations, growers and processors also need to be mindful of the need for longer-term protection, because they may be storing hemp for months prior to processing or selling their harvest. This is where specially lined hemp bags are ideal; these bags are engineered with a liner that can be nitrogen flushed and vacuum-sealed to minimize decomposition, prevent mold and fungus growth, and preserve CBD oil quality. This hermetic liner prevents the transfer of oxygen, CBD oil, and moisture through the film to maintain freshness and THC levels.

Even in the relatively young cannabis industry, vacuum-sealed bulk bags are proven to have what it takes to protect stored hemp. In an ongoing study at the University of Minnesota, a similar sealed liner bulk bag solution for torrified material has been temperature-stabilized for two years running.

 

The Question of Cost

As with any other type of crop, it’s important for cannabis growers and processors to protect their investment with the right packaging; as soon as a batch is exposed to mold or begins to decompose, it quickly begins to lose quality and value.

In addition to effectively protecting your crop, bulk bags also offer several cost-saving benefits:

  • Lower shipping costs: Compared to other packaging solutions, bulk bags are lightweight and easy to maneuver, which minimizes shipping costs.
  • Efficient use of space: Flexible bulk bags let you take advantage of every inch of space within each bag.
  • Small storage footprint: Bulk bags are stackable and flexible, so they use the smallest possible footprint for storage and enable efficient transportation.

Get Flexible

Whether your company is a new player in the cannabis industry or has been in the market for a while, you understand the importance of protecting your crop. Working with hemp requires a commitment to caring for the plant, all the way from harvesting to processing.

 

Flexible bulk bags have been shown to be a reliable packaging solution for hemp growers and processors alike. These specialty hemp bags can help prevent mold growth, mildew problems, and UV damage, giving you the best chance of extending the shelf life of your hemp and ensuring the highest-quality product possible. Reach out to us today for pricing and options.

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Conitex Sonoco Team
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