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Printed Bags: Stay Stateside or Go Made in China?

Some of our latest print projects.
Some of our latest print projects.

ESP Packaging is pleased to help customers with print projects, and we get calls every day from folks across the country eager to brand their logos and designs directly on the bag. From simple logos to full bleed printing, covering every inch of the bag in a variety of colors, ESP can help find a printing option right for you.

For more about printing options, check out our print page.

For today’s article, we wanted to let you know more about American-based printing vs Chinese printing. ESP helps our customers do both types of printing. There are positives and negatives you may not have considered to going abroad vs staying local.

Let’s start with China. Many of the things we buy every day, from clothing to housewares, food to pet products are made in China. As a packaging producer, we would be doing a disservice to our customer if we didn’t offer printing in China. Domestic production will never beat the price of making bags in China, where environmental standards and working conditions are much more lax.

That said, let’s look at the good and bad of doing your print job to China.

Good Reasons to work with China

  • Less expensive. China is priced very competitively against American markets, and they have generous quantity discounts as you order more bags.
  • They can do Rotogravure printing, also known as “Roto” for short.
  • Lower MOQ’s. China can do print jobs starting at only 5,000 bags.
  • Many Chinese producers can do a fine job quality-wise, performing full bleed and multi-color applications.

The Drawbacks of Going International

  • Communication issues can be rampant, which can lead to higher rates of error. There are many technical terms associated with packaging in general, and they increase when you move into printing bags because overall it’s a more complicated process. If just one of these technical things gets lost in translation, it can be catastrophic.
  • If there is a mistake due to communication or any other reason, it’s harder to get help to replace bags in a timely manner. China and the US have different contract laws; there is no mutually understood treatise on which to rely to resolve contract disputes between the two countries. It’s sort of like the wild wild East.
  • Matching colors from China is a bit harder, as they do not use the Pantone Matching System.
  • Most Chinese producers cannot prove their films are FDA Approved or phthalate-free or kosher.
  • Longer lead times. China generally takes 8-12 weeks to produce and ship the bags.

Now let’s examine the positives and negatives of having your print job performed in the United States.

Pluses of Stay Local

  • Certified films—ESP can certify that the films we use are kosher, FDA-approved and meet other requirements the customer needs. This certification is very important to many of our customers, especially those making food and beauty products.
  • Shorter lead times – we can get bags printed in as little as four weeks, depending on the type of printing chosen and the quantity ordered.
  • Color matching: ESP uses the Pantone Matching System so you get the color you want.
  • American companies can do digital printing and flexo printing, so there are more options stateside.

Negative of Local Printing

  • More expensive than China. ‘Nuf said!