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The paper bag story

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The paper bag story started in Switzerland in 1956 when the father of current Owner and Managing Director Robert Elsaesser came up with the idea to glue together paper and polypropylene using heat.

The result was a strong and leak-proof bag that soon became a sensation on planes. Many airlines started to order the air-sickness bags, or convenience bags as they were called, and until today the aviation market has remained a reliable customer, ordering large quantities of convenience bags. Innovation has never dwindled.

In 1984, the company launched its new popcorn bag, which can be used for popping corn, followed in 1994 by the PET portion bag for chocolate packaging. “It is quite interesting to look back. Almost any decade, we came up with a new groundbreaking innovation,” points out Mr. Elsaesser.

The Pochetta, introduced in 2004, is a bag complete with napkin and is used for facilitating setting the table for waitstaff in restaurants. Nowadays, this gastronomy bag has turned into a real bestseller. “During the peak season, we sell about one million bags each day.”

The Pochetta range, which includes solutions with napkins or comes with a nicely printed cutlery sleeve, has become a common sight in gastronomy. In 2011, the Elsaesser family sold the Swiss production site and focused on its French spin-off.

“We wanted to explore new markets and focus on the B2C business. Apart from the Pochetta, we introduced new bags for the take-away market,” says Mr. Elsaesser. “For four years now, we have been developing wrap packs and a SNACKPochetta, which integrates cooking, inserting, serving and eating into just one small bag.”

Each product can be inserted into the appropriate Pochetta size for clean and hygienic instant consumption. “We listen to what the customer wants. If he asks for a heat-resistant bag, we will do it. If he wants a bag which he can put under the grill with its content, no problem, we develop it for him,” stresses Mr. Elsaesser.

His son has joined the family business after finishing his studies in Australia. “My son is now developing the Australian market, and the results are excellent,” adds Mr. Elsaesser. “Now, we are going to focus on expansion in the US market with similarly promising results, we hope.”

The latest innovation, the new Ovenbag, will also help boost ELAG’s success in gastronomy and industry. Last year, the company presented an oven bag that can be put under the grill with its content, for example sandwiches or toast.

“It is quite simple,” explains Mr. Elsaesser. “The food is heated up, the cheese melts, and the bread is slightly roasted. Then, the food can be eaten directly from the bag. No leaking cheese on the grill or in the bag. The paper we use is heat-resistant up to a temperature of 220 °C and is also grease-repellent. We have already experienced great interest from the hospitality sector.”

ELAG, which now employs a workforce of 85 to 100 people, depending on the season, is optimistic that demand for its paper solutions will continue to grow.

“The takeaway market will grow. There are more and more consumers who enjoy takeaway drinks and meals. In addition, throw-away society will remain and even expand,” predicts Mr. Elsaesser.

ELAG is already thinking about new paper innovations that it will soon present to the market. “We strive hard to increase brand recognition. Everybody knows or uses our products, but only a few know about the name behind the product,” says Mr. Elsaesser. “We are going to change that.”

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