Flexible Packaging Trends

The use of flexible packaging continues to evolve as new film structures and applications come on –line.   When you visit any retail or grocery store, there are plenty of examples of Brand companies using flexible packaging for their product package instead of rigid containers such as a standard box, jar or can.

Cost savings play a major role in making the switch to flexible packaging.  There are potential savings not only in the cost of the package itself, but also in shipping and warehousing of film/pouches compared to, say, cans.  Due to rigid container weight, size and rigidity, it’s inevitable that cans are going to take up more space in a semi-truck than flexible film/pouches.  With cans, you ship the air in the open can and losing the area between the cans, whereas when shipping film or pouches, they can be stored flat, fitting higher quantities in the space. This reduces the number of trucks needed to ship supplies into the filling manufacture as well as reduces resources needed for warehouse space. Even when pouches are filled, the changing shape of the filled product requires less space than cans, so the cost savings continue when shipping the final package to the store.  Flexible packaging should not only be considered for convenience to the consumer, but also as a cost savings to the manufacturer. In many cases, the Retail Store can inventory more flexible packaged products in the SKU location than rigid containers, leading to a reduction in stocking frequency costs.

Sustainability–Light and Flexible Packaging

Charles D. Yuska, President and CEO of PMMI, stated that the increased focus on sustainability is driving more demand for energy-efficient filling and closing machines that support flexible packaging materials.

More Label Real Estate is needed to communicate Brand Benefits and Product ingredients

Further, flexible packaging provides “360 degree” package real estate to promote the product and brand!  An interesting statistic that Mr. Yuska also mentioned: “37% of U.S. consumers find it important to understand ingredients on food labels while 91% believe that products with recognizable ingredients are healthier, and the rise in demand for organic food has fueled a more than 10% growth in this sector.”  Food manufacturers must act accordingly to meet the evolving customer needs and create foods with recognizable ingredients.  This means the preservatives that are unrecognizable and generally extend shelf life should be replaced with packaging materials and technologies that can counter the removal of these preserving ingredients. An example of new technology like this would be using High Pressure Processing (HPP) which extends shelf life for fresher, safer foods.

The growing demand for products packaged in flexibles is largely driven by Millennials.  Millennial consumers are always on the go, convenience-driven and as a result, are avid purchasers of single serving meals, pre-cooked meals, and meal kits. All of these foods fall right into the capabilities of flexible packaging and pouches. One of the fastest growing areas is snack foods, both in terms of items available at the market and those in flexible packaging, and it just continues to grow. Have you noticed that when shopping for a bag of chips, nuts, granola, cheese, or energy bar, looking down the aisles of these growing sections in grocery stores and gas stations, the choices seem endless!

Moving forward, I see flexible packaging expanding more into nonfood items, especially in liquids. Pouches will continue to replace bottles and boxes of items like laundry detergent, cleansers and such.  We already see more cleaning supplies in wipes form and packaged in flexible films instead of tubs.  Pouches for liquids is one of the fastest growing areas in both food and nonfood areas.  Just look at the baby food section at a grocery store!  Instead of rows of glass jars, you see plastic containers. In the toddler section, a lot of food is in pouches with a spout and the kids can feed themselves!  Always on the go, like I mentioned before! Will canned soup and vegetables be next?  After all, the flexible film technology is there.  Pouched refills can be bought for house cleaning supplies, body washes, shampoos are already in the stores, and I see it growing even more. How long will it be before that refill pouch shrinks down to be the everyday use package, replacing the bottle entirely?

To look even farther out into the future I would suggest looking toward packaging in Asian market.  Many of their food and beverage items are already in flexible type of packaging.  This is evident when viewing the selections in the vending machines.  The products for sale in them are convenient, single use and mostly packaged in flexible films.  With the Global Economy continuing to grow, so will the packaging influence from other regions to the manufacturers in the US, along with the acceptance of the consumer.

Keep thinking outside of the “Box” and into a pouch! 🙂

Source–Industrial Packaging–Packaging Trends To Watch For 2018  David Roberge on October 5th, 2017

Charles D. Yuska, President and CEO of PMMI.   PMMI Media Group is a market-leading B2B media company that produces information for processing and packaging professionals, bringing together solution providers and end-users and facilitating connectivity throughout the supply chain.


Labeling Requirements

In Addition to clean labeling, 2018 is the current set year for the transition to new FDA nutritional labeling regulations for foods. Understanding the FDA regulations for food labeling requirements is an absolute must. Know what nutritional content for the ingredients in your food product, the serving size, expiration dates and the placement requirements for your package.  The FDA began updating the nutrition labeling guidelines for the first time in 20 years, and if your product is already on the market, it is in your best interest to plan on aligning your nutrition labeling with the updated rules soon.  Make sure you are clear on what is required to be on your packaging and labeling before you go to market with new foods. If you aren’t confident in compliance, finding a food labeling consultant is never a bad idea. Though the FDA has pushed back the new labeling requirement deadlines a few times already (and it looks like it may be doing so again), it is better to err on the side of caution and be prepared.

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