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Produce bags from Lotus offer sustainability and profitability

By
Tim Linden

Reusable produce bags that can create a profit center for supermarkets while eliminating literally billions of plastic bags from landfills are gaining traction in the retail community.

Farzan Dehmoubed, who founded Lotus Sustainables with his wife, Jennifer, in 2017, stated that they’ve grown their distribution of Lotus Produce Bags from 5,000 stores to over 18,000 in the last 12 months. “Retailers like Natural Grocers Vitamin Cottage have stepped up and launched this solution in all stores,” he said. “The Giant Co. is launching two-four floor racks in every store for Earth Day (April 22) along with Schnucks. We have yet to do a test with the Lotus Produce Bags that have not expanded and gone chain wide”

The Lotus Produce Bag, which is washable and has a lifetime guarantee, comes in three variations, has three sizes and is designed to replace the thin plastic produce bags that have been a fixture in produce departments for decades. Dehmoubed said those little plastic produce bags have an enormous negative impact globally, considering they are not typically reused nor recycled and they don’t breakdown quickly.

“It takes 500-1,000 years for plastic to degrade,” he said.

He noted that the typical supermarket uses eight to 12 cases of poly produce bags per week, with each case holding 4,400 plastic bags. Crunching the numbers, the Lotus founder said “globally, as many as 160,000 plastic bags are used every second.”

Dehmoubed said the company is on a mission to eliminate plastic from shopping. That cause has been taken up by many, including governments all over the world that have banned plastic shopping bags. Dehmoubed believes it won’t be long before the crusade sets its sights on the plastic produce bags.

Lotus Sustainables offers several different types of bags including two mesh bags and one made of organic cotton. The bags are displayed at retail in their own rack and are usually sold in packs of three at a price point typically at $7-$8. “We find that consumers come in buy a pack and then come back and buy two or three or four more packs.”

They are multi-purpose bags that can be used for much more than produce, but Dehmoubed said it is their use for fresh fruits and vegetables that seem to have resonated with most consumers. He reiterated that the sales of the bags help retailers turn a cost center into a profit center.

He said Shaw’s, a 128-store chain, spends about $2.3 million per year purchasing plastic produce bags. Kroger purchases about 4.5 billion plastic produce bags per year at a cost of $31 million. “The beauty of the Lotos Produce Bag is that we are making a difference… we are making an impact.”

He added that what sets their bag apart from others is its quality. “Consumers demand a high-quality bag,” Dehmoubed said. “Quality is everything. We give a lifetime guarantee. One set of bags can be used hundreds and hundreds of times.”

At retail, he said the Lotus bag is an impulse buy and market research has shown that it appeals to basically every demographic. He said most people are environmentally aware and want to do what they can to help save the planet. This is a seemingly small thing that allows people to feel good about themselves.

Lotus Sustainables, headquartered in San Diego, is trying to capitalize on that feeling of self-worth with a marketing campaign entitled OLD ME NEW ME. The graphic features a plastic produce bag with produce in it under the OLD ME moniker, while NEW ME is holding a sustainable produce bag.

Dehmoubed said the company’s goal is “to create a movement” and tap into the consumer concern for the environment.

Tim Linden

Tim Linden

About Tim Linden  |  email

Tim Linden grew up in a produce family as both his father and grandfather spent their business careers on the wholesale terminal markets in San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Tim graduated from San Diego State University in 1974 with a degree in journalism. Shortly thereafter he began his career at The Packer where he stayed for eight years, leaving in 1983 to join Western Growers as editor of its monthly magazine. In 1986, Tim launched Champ Publishing as an agricultural publishing specialty company.

Today he is a contract publisher for several trade associations and writes extensively on all aspects of the produce business. He began writing for The Produce News in 1997, and currently wears the title of Editor at Large.

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