Flexible stand-up pouches are one of the fastest growing formats in the food and beverage packaging market. According to the Freedonia Group (freedoniagroup.com), the U.S. market for flexible plastic pouches could top $10 billion by the end of the decade. Stand-up is the fastest growing type of pouch, growing at a rate of 6.5% per year from 2015-2020. The growth drivers for this market are the lightweight sustainable properties of pouches, their ability to allow for increased marketing differentiation, and through the addition of a spout, deliver a convenient and resealable product dispense.

New innovations in spouts on stand-up pouches further propel the segment forward, and offer more convenience for consumers from childhood to adulthood.

Aptar (aptar.com) has two new innovative spouted pouch offerings, EZ Grip and EZ Twist. Both feature a child-friendly design that is easy to open and close on-the-go. The fitments also possess a unique tamper evidence system that clearly indicates if the package has been opened. Both fitments are SimpliSqueeze® valve capable, which means that the package becomes a spill-proof option, reducing the risk of children causing accidental messes in the back seat of the car, at home or at school.

For the even younger crowd, Happy Baby unveils its new product line of fully transparent food pouches called Clearly Crafted. The baby food in the stand-up pouches is made with premium, organic ingredients that are now fully visible to the consumer, and the parents who buy them.

“Parents are looking for openness and honesty from the companies they buy products from, especially for their baby,” says CEO and founder, Shazi Visram. “We developed Clearly Crafted with this in mind. We want to share every aspect of the product story, from the farms where we grow our ingredients to the recipes that we use. Parents can feel confident feeding their children, by knowing and seeing exactly what’s inside the pouch.”

With Clearly Crafted, Happy Family is also the first organic brand to list its recipes directly on the pouch. With the trend of transparency soaring, both in materials and in food production, these clear pouches offer consumers the perk of more knowledge about the food they are serving to their little ones.

Convenience features are winning consumers over and several companies are taking advantage of this. Ecolean (ecolean.com) presents SnapQuick, a lightweight feature that makes reclosing stand-up pouches well, a snap. The reclosing device is incorporated into the package and designed to be convenient for all users, youth and elderly included. SnapQuick is lightweight and consists of two male buttons, two female buttons and a hinge. After opening the package and deciding to close it, consumers simply fold it and give it a pinch to seal. An audible snap sound will form, ensuring a tight seal. The SnapQuick pouches are available in three sizes, 500ml, 750ml and 1,000ml.

Award-winning packages shine

At the recent Flexible Packaging Association Awards ceremony, ProAmpac (proampac.com) was awarded two silver awards in Packaging Excellence for innovative solutions to common grocery items.

Duke’s Mayonnaise is available in an 8-ounce stand-up pouch looking to cause disruption on the shelf among all the rigid containers of mayonnaise. The hourglass shape is ergonomically designed to fit smaller hands. The reclosable one-piece flip top spout is easy to open, snaps both open and closed, and compared to a traditional two-piece spout and cap, there is no risk of losing the cap. Designed for either single or multi-use portability on the go, this pouch is a first for mayonnaise.

The second silver award was won by White Lily Flour, a specialty flour in a reclosable box pouch, a first in its category. Flour is traditionally packaged in paper-walled bags that are not reclosable. White Lily highlights its premium product in a package designed for shelf impact and functionality. Box pouches provide shelf-stability and five panels of marketing billboard. The pouch includes a clear window to view the product, improved moisture resistance, and a hook and loop zipper that doesn’t clog during contact with fine particles like flour. The registered matte varnish enhances the organic brand’s image while leaving a glossy viewing window with excellent clarity.

The healthcare sector also has award-winning and innovative pouches emerging on scene to help healthcare manufacturers. The Autoclavable Dispos-a-vent Barrier Pouch from Oliver-Tolas Healthcare Packaging (oliver-tolas.com) was recognized by the Association and received a gold award for technical innovation. The pouch provides medical device manufacturers an innovative packaging design option for devices requiring autoclave sterilization and barrier properties. Dispos-a-vent barrier pouches are designed with a disposable Tyvek® or paper vent for maximum airflow during steam sterilization and a high barrier foil pouch area for easy conversion after sterilization.

So how does it work? Manufacturers seal devices in Dispos-a-vent pouches for sterilization. A second seal is applied to enclose the device in the foil pouch after sterilization. The Tyvek® or paper vent is removed after the secondary sealing process. The final package protects the sterile device in a foil pouch with superior barrier properties.

The design is an improvement over existing packaging options that involve sterilizing in one porous package and then repackaging in a second barrier package. Eliminating the need for a second package has its perks like improved efficiencies, reduced costs and less material waste.

Eco-friendly materials propel the segment

As more new packages emerge with more user-friendly, functional and sometimes aesthetically appealing features, packagers will need to anticipate future trends within the segment. I asked David Fletcher the senior manager of Strategic Alliance Group, Toray Plastics (America), Inc., what he thinks the next big thing in flexible packaging will be.

“We see new materials and new coatings as the next big things. Toray and its customers take sustainability and the development of materials sourced from renewable feedstock very seriously. One of the areas we are working on is an exciting new line of bio-based polyester (PET) products. Polyester is manufactured by combining purified terephthalic acid and ethylene glycol.  By utilizing a bio-based EG in the manufacture of the film, Toray is able to offer CPG’s an environment-friendly PET that is made with approximately 30% renewable resources. Using a 30% bio-based EG significantly reduces greenhouse emissions and brings us one step closer to our ultimate goal: commercializing a 100% bio-based PET.”

Today, Toray is utilizing its bio-based PET with the new LumiLid® bio-based, dual-ovenable lidding films. The films, which were awarded AIMCAL’s Sustainability Award for 2016, are manufactured with Toray’s proprietary sustainable resin blends, which are made with approximately 50% renewable feedstocks. The bio-based films were created to meet the needs of environment-conscious end users and consumers. The films lessen the impact on the environment, as they use fewer petroleum resources while they are being manufactured.

LumiLid films are FDA-compliant for use with oven temperatures of up to 400°F for 30 minutes. They are also Interstate Milk Shippers (IMS)-certified, so they offer another level of assurance for dairy customers. The bio-based films also have a low seal initiation (SIT), broad seal range, excellent seal integrity and are complete with an easy peel for consumer convenience. The new LumiLid films are designed for frozen, wet and dry food, and dairy applications.

As the industry changes, so do demands from customers who want the next big thing and the best option from their suppliers. According to Fletcher, the two top requests from customers regarding packaging materials in the market are innovation and cost-savings.

“The industry is under a lot of pressure for cost containment and productivity improvements. The larger food companies face monthly or quarterly Wall Street pressures. At the same time at the super market level, there are more and more new brands and store brand alternatives fighting to take market share from the national brands. Our customers look to us for ideas about new substrates and coatings, source reduction, and lower cost options to help them improve their operations and differentiate their packaging,” he adds.

New packaging formats, technologies and materials are propelling the flexible packaging market forward, creating an even more vast and diverse segment than ever. For news, innovations, insights and discussions surrounding the segment, don’t miss Global Pouch Forum next month in Miami. Check out the side bar (below) for topics and speaker information.

Big names in food offer keynote presentations at Global Pouch Forum

Andrew Gordon knows pouches. Gordon has been at Campbell Soup Co. two years and previously was senior manager of packaging innovation and commercialization at the former MeadWestvaco Co. In 2004, he helped launch one of the first spouted pouches for Chiquita. Now as senior program manager for packaging innovation at Campbell, he oversees a number of packaging innovation programs at the prepared food giant.

More than just soup in a can, in 2012, the company launched the Go! line of microwavable soups in a pouch, targeted to the Millennial generation. In 2013, it introduced a line of Skillet Sauces in a pouch. And it continues to expand the Plum Organics brand of baby and toddler food with flexible spouted packs.

On June 17, in his keynote presentation, Gordon will explore how Campbell is shaking things up in the soup aisle and beyond at the 2016 Global Pouch Forum, a conference sponsored by the Packaging Strategies group. Packaging Strategies magazine, and its sister publications, are proud to bring back this popular event that will be held June 15-17 in Miami.

On June 16, Tom Miller, packaging systems development manager with General Mills Co., will talk about his company’s passion for the pouch. Familiar brands such as Chex Mix, Bugles, Nature Valley and Fiber One all come in flexible packaging. In fact, this company has turned to pouches and other lightweight materials as part of an effort to save packaging waste and reduce its environmental footprint.

Miller will talk about the pouch formats the company is using and what considerations go into converting products into flexible, including a strong understanding of consumer and customer needs. He has worked at General Mills for 17 years, and is responsible for setting the packaging technology strategy for all business units.

There are a total of 15 sessions over the 1 ½ day conference, many of them featuring food manufacturers. Speakers include snack, produce, dairy and pet food makers. Suppliers will be well-represented in sessions about machinery and value-added features. There will also be sessions on food safety and traceability, recycling and private equity.

Pre-conference agenda

TAPPI will hold a pre-conference workshop on stand-up pouches from 1:00-5:00 p.m. June 15 that will have a number of speakers on pouch making technologies. Also on the 15th is a tour of the Karlville Miami headquarters. This is free of charge for registered attendees, but space is limited, so those interested must sign up beforehand.

There will be plenty of networking opportunities. The June 16 evening exhibition and networking reception featuring more than 80 table top exhibitors is always popular and sponsored this year by Charter Nex Films.

This conference regularly sells out and for the past two years has had 500 attendees. However, for those who can’t make it in person, live broadcasting will again be available free for many of the sessions. A full list of sponsors and speakers can be found at globalpouchforum.com.