A look at the rise of pouches as a flexible packaging option.

by Elisabeth Cuneo, Associate  Editor

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The latest and greatest products seem to be unveiling in bags and pouches, everything from baby food to beverages and even sauces.  But what goes into packaging these pouches? Read on for a look into materials and systems that make pouches and bags “flexible royalty.”

The Freedonia Group has released a study announcing the growth of flexible packaging, which has an annual growth rate of 6.3% and is projected to grow from $2.055 billion in 2008 to $2.515 billion in 2013.

“Flexible packaging will log faster gains based on advantages of greater cost effectiveness, space saving capabilities, lighter weight and overall source reduction capabilities,” reports Freedonia.

According to Freedonia, features that improve performance, such as self-ventilating films, and convenience attributes like resealable pouches and bags will also push demand up. The research said the use of higher value laminated and coextruded films that enable them to stand up at low temperatures would further improve demand for pouches. With more demand for flexible packaging, specifically bags and pouches, companies are rolling out new designs for optimal use.

Pouches of plenty

Walk down the aisles of any grocery store and you will see more and more packaging in pouches. Pouches are more widely used today as manufacturers see the benefits of using less materials, lighter shipment, unbreakable design and the opportunity for highly appealing, colorful graphics.

One baby food line jumped on the pouch bandwagon with its new line of baby food puree. Hain Celestial’s Earth Best baby food recently became available in resealable pouches, from Cheerpack, made from flexible film containing no Bisphenol-A or phthalates. They are vibrantly designed with a cheerful backdrop to the wholesome photo-real illustrations Smith Design created to clearly and quickly communicate each flavor. The pouches offer convenience and the flexibility of the container offers easy usage with an unbreakable quality.

The popular sports drink brand, Gatorade, owned by PepsiCo, launched a line of beverages sold in pouches instead of the classic PET bottles. Gatorade Prime 01 is sold in a convenient and functional 4-ounce pouch designed to be stored easily in a locker, desk, gym bag or purse. The Gatorade pouch is easy to carry, consume and dispose of, and offers a refreshing spin on the company’s popular plastic bottle.

Rising demand breeds rising innovation

Ampac has created its No. 2 Pouch®, the company’s first nonlaminated stand-up pouch. It offers excellent stiffness and strength characteristics and along with a lower cost compared to laminated stand-up pouches, the No. 2 Pouch can be printed using high definition graphics to improve billboard visibility and shelf impact with a higher resolution, improved screening and greater color range.

Responding to requests for more environmentally friendly packaging materials, Ampac created the No. 2 Pouch to be more compatible with existing post-consumer recycled waste streams. In addition to recyclability, the No. 2 Pouch provides a high barrier to moisture and excellent puncture resistance for greater product protection.  The pouch is predominantly high-density polyethylene allowing it to be labeled with the Society of the Plastics Industry (SPI) number 2 polymer identification. The pouch is targeted at pet foods, and dry or moist foods that require moisture barrier but not high oxygen barrier.

Another pouch supplier, Cryovac® brand from Sealed Air, now offers aseptic packaging solutions in the form of durable, flexible pouches.

The new Flavour Mark™ packaging technology contributes to better product quality, taste and nutritional value because the aseptic process exposes products to extreme heat for a shorter period of time compared to other processes such as hot fill or canning. The lack of headspace in the package also promotes improved quality and shelf life by preventing oxidation.

In addition to health and flavor benefits, Flavour Mark aseptic packaging is tamper-evident and offers improved efficiencies, reduced packaging waste and higher safety standards. The shelf-stable attributes of aseptic packaging can eliminate the need for cold storage and distribution, while the lighter weight material and compact footprint allow for more products to be shipped in a truckload. The reduction in materials has been shown to reduce packaging waste by 76% versus cans, even when accounting for recycling.

Items such as stocks and sauces can benefit from the pouches. The space-saving and shelf-stable attributes can result in a more advantageous use of space in the back of house and reduce the need for products to be placed in cold storage. The pouches are available with or without fitments and are compatible with NSF-approved foodservice dispensing technology.

Flexible packaging allows for easier handling, storage, lighter weight and offers opportunity for brighter graphics and lower cost. If flexible packaging is on the rise to rule over the packaging kingdom, then pouches and bags are surely the King and Queen.

For More Information

Ampac

513-671-1777; www.ampaconline.com

Cheerpack

508-927-7800; www.cheerpack.com

Freedonia Group

440-684-9600; www.freedoniagroup.com 

Sealed Air

800-391-5645; www.sealedair.com


A spouted pouch of pesto

Artisanal foods manufacturer Le Grand of St-Joseph-du-Lac, Quebec, needed to boost distribution of its gourmet cold-processed pesto sauces, and address concerns about the product’s limited shelf life. Compromising the company’s preservative-free recipes was not an option. Instead, Le Grand turned to new innovative packaging from Flair Flexible Packaging to improve product visibility and additive-free shelf life.

According to Melanie Champagne, a business developer at Le Grand, the switch from traditional glass jars to a 3-layer high-barrier flexible pouch with a heat-sealed pour spout was a very smart move. The high-barrier qualities of the functional film more effectively protect the product while it’s on the shelf. “The difference between the old jars and our pouches with spouts is that when the product is dispensed, no air goes back in. So our additive-free product doesn’t oxidize nearly as quickly as it used to. That’s all due to the new packaging, not the addition of preservatives or more oils. And our customers appreciate that there’s no double-dipping,” Champagne laughs. She calls the transformation “night and day,” as sales and positive customer feedback have both climbed to new heights. “A paper label on a jar could never compete with the high-end graphics on our pouch.”

The custom-shaped stand-up packages with pour spouts from Flair Flexible Packaging afford producers and processors functional film packaging with vibrant 10-color rotogravure reverse-printed graphics. Available with tamper-evident bands, the spout fitments are heat sealed to multilayer laminated film. The packages can be custom designed for the safe preservation of the enclosed product with top, bottom and side-fill options.

For more information:

Flair Flexible Packaging

920-574-3121; www.flairpackaging.com