20 Mar 2013 --- If you regularly purchase Arnold bread, a popular supermarket brand, you may have noticed a slight tweak to the product’s packaging last summer. The little plastic clip at the end of the bag—colloquially known as a bread clip or bread tag—was replaced by a twist-tie.
If you regularly purchase Arnold bread, a popular supermarket brand, you may have noticed a slight tweak to the product’s packaging last summer. The little plastic clip at the end of the bag—colloquially known as a bread clip or bread tag—was replaced by a twist-tie.
“Our research showed moving to bag ties from clips was a cost-effective way to meet consumer preferences,” says David Margulies, a spokesman for Bimbo Bakeries, the mass-market baker that owns the Arnold brand. “So we made the switch during an equipment upgrade last May.”
This was the latest move in a business war that’s been under way for more than half a century now. It’s a battle fought by the makers of inconspicuous little products that cost a fraction of a penny to produce—the ones that everyone knows and nobody thinks about, but which represent more than an estimated $10 million in annual sales. Insiders describe the turf as the bakery bag closure and reclosure market; this is the battle of the plastic clip vs. the twist-tie.
Even the combatants agree there’s no imminent sign of a clear winner. “We feel, based on surveys we’ve done, that the twist-tie is consumer-preferred, but of course the clip people will tell you the same thing about their product,” says Beth Radloff, marketing specialist for Bedford Industries, a Minnesota-based firm that’s the largest twist-tie manufacturer for the U.S. bakery market. “I think the two methods will always co-exist.”
The bag clip was created by a California inventor named Floyd Paxton, who whittled the first prototype from a piece of plastic while flying home from a business trip in 1952. Paxton soon founded Kwik Lok, based in Yakima, Wash., and still the dominant clip manufacturer today, with plants on four continents. The clips were originally applied by hand to bags of apples, but Kwik Lok began making automated machinery to apply the clips to bakery products in the early 1960s.
Around the same time, Oklahoma-based Burford developed similar machinery to apply twist-ties. Ever since, the two sides—more friendly rivals than sworn enemies—have been jockeying for position.
There are no data documenting the two products’ relative market shares in the bakery aisle. Both sides, perhaps unsurprisingly, claim they’re winning. There seems to be general agreement that twist-ties have taken the lead with bread, while clips hold sway with buns, rolls, bagels, and English muffins. There are also pockets of regionalism: Everyone agrees, for example, that the West Coast is clip territory.
“The twist-tie is less expensive, and it gives you a tighter closure, keeping your bread fresher,” says Mitch Lindsey, who’s been selling twist-tie machinery for Burford, the industry leader, for 30 years.
“And the bag is always secure inside the twist-tie. A lot of times you’ll see a bag that isn’t completely inside the plastic clip, and the clip can also damage or cut the bag.”
Source: Bimbo Bakeries USA
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