The global flexible packaging market is expected to reach over $99 million by 2018, representing an average annual growth rate of 5.1%.  Applications in prepared meats, poultry, beverages, fruits, frozen foods, candy and snack foods are all helping to drive growth. This rise of flexible packaging is also due, in part, to the unique opportunity that its lightweight nature lends to improved sustainability efforts and lower transportation costs throughout the supply chain.
Waste reduction and the environment
Considering the enormous amount of food that is packaged globally each year, even small reductions in packaging material and weight can have a marked impact on the environment. Flexible packaging delivers value here by providing a high product-to-package radio, using a smaller amount of material to package each product than other, more rigid formats. This increase in product-to-package ratio holds true for secondary packaging as well, where flexible packaging helps improve space utilization, fitting more units in a given space to reduce the number of shipments required in transport.
Additionally, flexible packaging serves to reduce food waste by prolonging freshness. The shelf life of produce, baking and snack, and cheese products has increased due to the utilization of flexible packaging. Furthermore, once a product reaches the consumer, the resealability of many flexible packaging applications can reduce food waste in the home.
Energy & resource consumption
When compared to glass or aluminum products, flexible packaging requires fewer natural resources to produce and less energy to transport. Because flexible packaging weighs less, and generally takes up less space than its rigid counterparts, each truckload can contain more product, resulting fewer trucks on the road and consequently, reductions in fossil fuel use and CO2 emissions.
Discovering flexible packaging innovation
Food and beverage manufacturers were able to see several of the latest trends in flexible and sustainable packaging illustrated this month at PACK EXPO International 2014. Attendees throughout the packaging and processing industry filled the McCormick Place to find the latest solutions in their field. Manufacturing professionals still looking for find flexible packaging solutions can look to the debut of PACK EXPO East 2015 (Feb. 16-18; Pennsylvania Convention Center, Philadelphia) and PACK EXPO Las Vegas 2015 (Sep. 28-30; Las Vegas Convention Center) to discover game-changing innovations. To learn more and register for PACK EXPO East, visit packexpoeast.com ($30 through Jan. 21, 2015; then $60). More information about PACK EXPO Las Vegas, visit packexpolasvegas.com.
1 "Flexible Packaging Market by End-Use (Food, Beverage, Personal Care & Pharmaceutical), Material (Polypropylene, BOPP, CPP, Polyethylene, EVOH, PA, BOPET, PVC, Aluminum, Paper, Cellulosic) - Global Trends & Forecast to 2018." MarketsAndMarkets, 1 Nov. 2013. Web. 14 Oct. 2014
PMMI, The Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies, is a trade association representing over 650 packaging and processing supply chain companies that provide a full range of packaging and processing machinery, materials, components and containers. PMMI actively brings buyers and sellers together through programs and events such as the PACK EXPO portfolio of trade shows, packexpo.com, PACK EXPO Show Daily, networking events and educational programs.
PMMI organizes the PACK EXPO trade shows: PACK EXPO International, Pharma EXPO, co-located with PACK EXPO International and presented jointly with the International Society for Pharmaceutical Engineering (ISPE); PACK EXPO Las Vegas, PACK EXPO East, EXPO PACK México and EXPO PACK Guadalajara, connecting participants in the packaging and processing supply chain with their customers around the world. Coming Up: PACK EXPO International 2014, Nov. 2–5 (McCormick Place, Chicago); Pharma EXPO, co-located with PACK EXPO International 2014; PACK EXPO East, debuting Feb. 16–18, 2015 (Pennsylvania Convention Center, Philadelphia); EXPO PACK Guadalajara 2015, March 10–12, 2015 (Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico); EXPO PACK México 2015, June 16–19 (Mexico City, Mexico).