Looking for Jute/Burlap bags got buying bulk foods in.
April 23, 2009 6:02 PM   Subscribe

Need source for wholesale jute/burlap bags for holding bulk foods. Should be tight weave for holding fine food items such as flour; produced in the USA if possible; and made from organically grown jute if possible.

I know this is a tall order and I don't expect to meet all those expectations. But I really want to help my local co-op grocery faze out plastic bags for bulk food purchases.

Please help.
posted by franklen to Food & Drink (21 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Oh yeah, I forgot, flax source bags would be acceptable too.
posted by franklen at 6:04 PM on April 23, 2009

Would you consider cotton? Flour sacks, for example?
posted by Houstonian at 6:16 PM on April 23, 2009

There seems to be lots of wholesalers for this. Were the bags not tightly woven enough?
posted by Houstonian at 6:19 PM on April 23, 2009

Houstonian, I thought of cotton, but the production of cotton is such a resource heavy industry that I thought i would try to stay away from it if possible

I have done the online search, but it is taking me forever to search through all the options. Thought I'd ask here too in case anyone already was knowledgeable of this.

I got samples from some, and the weave is not tight enough to hold flour.

And I keep finding overseas sources only. I'll keep looking though.
posted by franklen at 6:24 PM on April 23, 2009

Though i wasn't searching for "sacks" as you did, only "bags" maybe something will turn up from your list.
posted by franklen at 6:25 PM on April 23, 2009

I think the term "burlap" in part means a loose/coarse weave.

Maybe someone else can help find a word that means "like burlap, but with a tight weave" or "jute fabric/hessian/gunny sack with a tight weave".
posted by Houstonian at 6:33 PM on April 23, 2009

"Burlap" is a plain-weave fabric woven from a bast fiber, such as jute. Because jute is a very coarse fiber as bast fibers go (as opposed to flax or ramie), the weaver has to balance the weight of the fabric against the tightness of the weave; that is, if jute was beaten hard enough to hold flour, it would be fairly heavy and inflexible.

There's a reason floursacks are made from cotton; it spins into a very fine thread, it's easier to produce than linen thread from flax, and it can be woven into a tight plain-weave without sacrificing weight.
posted by catlet at 6:54 PM on April 23, 2009 [1 favorite]

FWIW, when (I think) I've seen flour packed in fabric bags, there may have been two layers.
posted by amtho at 6:57 PM on April 23, 2009

Do you mean bags for customers to purchase food in bulk at the co-op? Just asking for clarification because burlap in general is a rather course weave.

Are you open to other options, or really looking only for flax/burlap bags?
posted by barnone at 7:23 PM on April 23, 2009

Yes, for customers to bag their own bulk food/goods at the cooperative grocery store here in Syracuse, NY. As of now, only plastic is available.

I am open to other options. It has to be affordable, and an ecologically conscious option though.
posted by franklen at 7:26 PM on April 23, 2009

I bet a hemp bag would work. Bamboo? Ecologically-grown and organic cotton?
posted by barnone at 7:32 PM on April 23, 2009

Organic cloth produce bags.
posted by barnone at 7:34 PM on April 23, 2009

Bulk food bags with windows. Obviously has plastic in it but...I'd totally buy these and reuse them again and again. I like to see what's in the pantry and I don't always shift things into canisters. They have some cotton bags too.
posted by barnone at 7:40 PM on April 23, 2009

And here's a blog on ecofriendly bulk food options. They also suggest folks bring reusable containers (yogurt cartons, etc.) for bulk food. And here's another hemp drawstring bag.
posted by barnone at 7:46 PM on April 23, 2009

The hemp bag is too expensive.

The organic cloth bag at $2.99 is closer, but don't know if that is cheap enough to get people to change from using the "free" plastic bags.

I was hoping to find something that we could sell for no more than $1.00
posted by franklen at 7:52 PM on April 23, 2009

A bunch of cute organic cotton produce bags. And bamboo produce bags.
posted by barnone at 7:53 PM on April 23, 2009

I bet folks would buy a few and bring them in to re-use the fabric bags, even if they're more than $1 -- they did it with grocery bags right?

For that cost, you might be better off buying a whole bunch of organic/sustainable cotton or bamboo fabric, and having someone sew the bags. You won't make any money on the labor, but you'd get the materials closer to $1 for a US-made, sustainable, organic produce bag.
posted by barnone at 7:56 PM on April 23, 2009

What about paper bags? Non-bulk flour is usually sold in paper bags with the top & bottom glued. When I've bought old-fashioned mill flour that was (decoratively) packaged in a fabric bag, it had an inner paper bag.
posted by Orinda at 9:07 PM on April 23, 2009

I used to shop at a co-op that had compostable "plastic" bags made of cellulose. And paper bags. No plastic.
posted by fshgrl at 12:50 AM on April 24, 2009

Here you go: BioBag
posted by fshgrl at 12:52 AM on April 24, 2009

I like the paper bag idea for flour. Haven't made any further progress on this, and have sort of shelved this project for the time being due to time constraints among other projetcs, but thanks for all your input, and will consider all your input at a late time and can hopefully let you know how it works out :>)
posted by franklen at 10:39 AM on August 20, 2009

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