Tariff Trouble or Flexible Local Supply? You Choose

If you have been contemplating importing pouches or rollstock from China; are already trying to navigate the choppy seas of the language barrier, freight hassles, and quality concerns; or you just got hit with price increases on your imported goods—you know that the latest headlines on trade tariffs are just going to further complicate your business.

Trade by the Numbers

From the FPA’s 2017 annual report:

“Flexible packaging imports into the U.S. for 2017 (based on the latest data available from the Foreign Trade division of the U.S. Census Bureau) rose 6% in 2017 to $4.6 billion (accounting for just under 15% of U.S. flexible packaging consumption), while exports were up somewhat from 2016 levels at $1.8 billion. As a result, the industry’s trade balance, the difference between exports and imports, increased in 2017 (rising 7%) to a deficit of about $2.81 billion, versus 2016’s trade deficit of $2.61 billion.”

A significant portion of that $4.6 billion in imports is represented by China. Two rounds of tariffs on targeted Chinese goods have been announced by the U.S. government in just the past few weeks, with another scheduled for November 2018.With Chinese pouches and bags undoubtedly among the targeted goods in upcoming tariffs, those looking to save on their flexible packaging by buying offshore are in for a rough ride.

It’s important to know that you DO have a choice. While it’s tempting to perform a per-bag or per-roll comparison among suppliers, it may be eye-opening to instead consider how many bags or rolls in each order are USABLE: delivered on-time, with the print quality you demand, and not liable to reach obsolescence in your warehouse. When you look at it that way, the calculus may change.

10-Day Shipping

Even before U.S. tariffs became an issue for buyers of Chinese printed packaging, marketers who depend on short- to medium runs, or who desire variable data printing (VDP), have been finding that the Chinese business model is simply not practical for them. The lead times required to import the finished goods, combined with minimum run requirements, customs protocols, and communications snafus, mean that overseas printers are not capable of providing the speed and flexibility required by these brand owners.

The solution may be far closer than you think. Established in 2016, ePac is the only flexible packaging company in North America built entirely around the HP Indigo 20000 Digital Press. Some of our services and advantages include the following:

  • Orders ship within 10 days from the date artwork is approved, from any of six fully-equipped locations.
  • Substantially reduced setup time and waste is another advantage.
  • No plates are required, as PDFs are used as the image source.
  • Short runs, and medium-run-length, multi-SKU jobs, are produced cost effectively.
  • ePac’s 30 in. wide web accommodates most flexible packaging sizes.
  • Only digital printing can produce Variable Data Printing.
  • Images are photo-quality, meeting or exceeding that of flexography and rotogravure, and the process is capable of hitting 97% of the Pantone gamut, with 100% colour consistency and perfect registration.

Contact ePac, learn more about our flexible packaging products and start reaping the benefits and peace of mind of a reliable local flex-pack partner.