The Uprising of Inverted Pouches
Meet the new packaging format that is turning product categories upside down.
What emotions do you want your consumers to experience when using your product?
Think about the typical experience of dispensing product from an open-mouth rigid bottle. We twist open the cap while hoping that no remnants of the product collected around the lip/cap area of the bottle after the last time the product was used. (Spoiler alert: They did.)
We then tip the bottle at what we determine to be the right angle for dispensing, which varies according to the viscosity of the product and the amount of product remaining in the bottle. For thick products, we either wait patiently for the product to respond to gravity and make its way down the neck of the bottle, or we shake the bottle in a jerking motion to speed up the process (read: dispense way more than we intended). For thin products, a quick flick of the wrist can be all it takes to accidentally dump out half the bottle — wasting product and testing our patience.
Once we’ve dispensed the desired amount of product, we tip the bottle back upright in a ninja-like motion to prevent residual product from accumulating around the lip of the bottle. Failure to execute this with precision results in product dripping down the side of the bottle and dried product lurking under the cap that will annoy us the next time the bottle is opened, thus completing the cycle.
End on a Good Note
Many of the pain points consumers experience with upright bottles are addressed by inverted bottles, but inverted bottles don’t prevent the battle that occurs when the bottle is close to empty. The inverted bottle starts out as our friend, but it turns aloof when we attempt to use the last of the product. The last 10 percent or so of the product is often stuck to the sides of an inverted bottle. Try as we might, unless we put forth a lot of extra effort to access the last of the product, the bottle (inverted or not) usually wins.
Case in point: Uncle Dougie’s conducted a recent market study of more than 1,000 U.S. sauce consumers and found that respondents were tired of not being able to get the last 10 percent of sauce out of typical glass or plastic bottles. This consumer pain-point has been overlooked by many other brands, but a percentage of the product will be inaccessible to the consumer and inevitably go into the trash or down the drain when using bottles. This results in food waste and, for many consumers, the feeling of not getting their money’s worth.
Life Hack in a Package
Enter the inverted pouch. It marries the benefits of inverted bottles and flexible packaging together. The procedure becomes a clean, controlled, efficient operation: flip open the cap, squeeze the pouch, close the cap, done. No drips. No mess. No accidentally dispensing half the package. No dried chunks accumulating under the cap. And with nearly 100 percent product evacuation, no more struggling to access the last of the product.
Uncle Dougie’s discovered these benefits when seeking a new package that would address the pain points described by consumers frustrated with typical bottles.
According to Uncle Dougie’s CEO Rob Johnson, “We talked to men and women across the country who are heavy BBQ sauce users. They were tired of dealing with the messy cap and spout and never being able to get the last 10 percent of product out of typical glass and plastic bottles.”
Johnson set out to find a packaging solution that addressed these pain points and found success with the premade STANDCAP pouch. Packaging supplier Glenroy offers this inverted pouch as a turnkey, low-cost-of-entry premade packaging solution.
In February 2019, Uncle Dougie’s debuted a new line of organic BBQ sauces in premade STANDCAP pouches, and it was inundated by rave reviews from retailers and consumers. “The packaging is a real break from the category,” says Johnson. “The inverted squeeze pouches make it easier for cooks to use our sauces in recipes or for dipping. They also virtually eliminate the mess that collects around the lip of typical bottles. We think [the new packaging] is going to change consumers’ expectations for BBQ sauce.”
Johnson also notes that the shape and printable surface area of inverted pouches provide an ideal canvas for communicating with consumers, which allows the company’s new product line to be “incredibly visible on the retail shelf.”
Yet another benefit of inverted pouches that is leading many brands to investigate this new packaging format is a potential increase in shelf life. When an inverted bottle is squeezed, even if the closure has a dispensing valve, an inverted bottle reuptakes air afterward. But an inverted pouch with a one-way valve doesn’t reuptake air, which means the product will have less exposure to oxygen. This can extend the shelf life of many food products — especially products sensitive to oxidation.
An example of an inverted pouch with a one-way valve is the premade STANDCAP pouch, which features an innovative dispensing solution by Aptar (aptar.com). Aptar’s proprietary SimpliSqueeze valve technology provides controlled, drip-free dispensing and clean product cutoff. With hundreds of valve options available, the valve is completely customizable to accommodate the consistency and viscosity of just about any squeezable product. Even lumpy or chunky products are good candidates for inverted pouches thanks to the versatility of the valve.
Setting the Foundation
Advancements in closures and dispensing solutions have provided the foundation for the evolution of inverted pouches — literally. The closure provides crucial stability for the inverted pouch, allowing pouches to make the transition from upright to inverted.
Aptar is currently the leader in dispensing solutions for inverted pouches. The company’s Sierra closure, used on the premade STANDCAP Pouch, incorporates a flip-lid closure that allows for convenient, one-handed opening and closing and a built-in pull ring for tamper evidence.
Expanding Usage Occasions
Inverted pouches have the power to transform the way consumers look at a product. For example, any dip, which is traditionally packaged in a plastic tub, becomes a topping once packaged within an inverted pouch. Instead of being pushed to the back of the refrigerator over time, as tubs often are, the inverted pouch is typically stored in the fridge door where it is more visible to the consumer (and more likely to be used). The “fun factor” of the inverted pouch also contributes to the increased usage of the product.
The (Sour) Cream of the Crop
If there is any skepticism on the consumer acceptance of inverted pouches, look no further than the success of the Daisy Squeeze pouch. In 2015, Daisy added a line extension of sour cream in the STANDCAP Pouch, marketing the product as Daisy Squeeze. The company reported that this move resulted in an incredible 69.7 percent increase in sales. Notably, 18 percent of the total volume sold was incremental to the sour cream category, which means Daisy Squeeze didn’t cannibalize Daisy’s traditional sour cream tubs. Instead, the new squeeze pouch played a role in lifting the sales of the whole sour cream category. Although Daisy was already one of the market leaders, the company gained 11 percent market share — and achieved all of this while charging approximately 25 percent more per ounce for sour cream in an inverted pouch than sour cream in traditional plastic tubs.
Amazing results like this prove that upside-down pouches have tremendous upside potential. Many brands are standing up and taking notice, vying to be the first in their product category to introduce new products and line extensions in inverted pouches.