New wave of closures extends flexible's Impact

Zippers and sliders are integrating into the total package design.
As marketers jockey for shelf presence, some key packaging elements seem to complement each other—when used effectively—to produce winners.
Flexible film and a new genre of zippers and sliders fall into this realm, and they are providing marketers with fresh opportunities.
Here's why: Consumers like the storage flexibility of a stand-up pouch or flat-laying bag. In food products, flexible packaging also allows them to claim "portion control."
But they voice one recurring complaint. Closures on these pouches and bags are sometimes difficult to operate.
The new wave of flexible packaging closures takes aim at this challenge. Early results show that consumers are finding these closures easier to use.
Besides ease of use, they answer two other consumer desires in flexible packaging: no clumping of granular products due to moisture inside the package, and protection from tampering.
Three recent examples show how zippers and sliders can make flexible packaging a more dynamic marketing tool:
1. Arm & Hammer Baking Soda in a resealable bag. This package marks the brand's introduction into flexible packaging and provides a club-store-size package that complements Arm & Hammer's familiar, smaller paperboard cartons in grocery stores.
  • The 12-pound stand-up pouch's high-gauge polyethylene film, and a zipper, from Zip-Pak, Manteno, Ill., work together to provide moisture barrier and carrying strength. Kristen Gates, Church & Dwight Brand Manager for Arm & Hammer Baking Soda, says consumers worry about moisture barrier on a larger package.
  • "Evacuation ports"—or perforations—along the zipper tracks create channels through which the product falls back into the package. That prevents clogs and zipper malfunction.
2. A stand-up pouch for 1.75 pounds of Brakebush Brothers Chicken Breast Patties incorporates a slider to prevent clogging in the track.
  • The slider, from Pactiv Corp., Lake Forest, Ill., provides a measure of brand security.
  • In order to open the polyethylene-film package, consumers have to break open a tamper-evident membrane seal just below the slider track.
  • Brakebush, a Westfield, Wis., marketer, wanted visual impact inside the freezer case. The glossy film gets the stand-up pouch noticed through the clouded freezer door.
3. A zippered flexible back highlights the relaunch of the Friskies line of dry cat foods in a resealable pouch.
  • Nestle Purina PetCare gets a tamper-evident, airtight-seal closure that preserves product freshness
  • The zipper works together with another value-added feature on the bag. A front-panel perforation near the top of the bag provides easier opening and quicker access to the zipper. In the store, this perforation alerts consumers to whether the bag was previously opened.
Each of these packages responds to the need for shelf impact in the store and functional impact when the product is used. They reflect a trend toward closure systems becoming more effectively integrated into flexible packaging design.
Their added strength makes pouches with zippers or sliders a viable option in bulk sizes. They are emerging as another packaging tool to attract large-package distribution channels such as club stores.
Retort—the next horizon
Zippers and sliders are on the cusp of adding reclosability to a potentially fertile area of flexible packaging—retort. Reclosable packages could extend retort from single-serve into multi-serve in products from soup to tuna to pet food.
Where to go for more information...
*Reseable zipper packaging systems. At Zip-Pak, contact Bob Hogan at 630.215.7735 or
* Zipper systems. At Presto Products, contact Tom Winter at 920.738.1747 or
* Slider closure systems. At Pactiv, contact Larry Rebodos at 847.482.2288 or
That could give retort products in bulk sizes an audience with mass merchandisers and club stores, says Tom Winter, Product Manager at Presto Products, Appleton, Wis. Presto is one company working at the forefront of reclosable retortpouches:
1. General-use retort zipper. It incorporates into existing form-fill-seal product equipment.
2. Zipper for top-fill pouch. This "add-on" could work in a hooded-style stand-up pouch, which is made with the zipper attached in the header. The pouch seals at the top, and an elongated flange seals to the pouch wall, providing a barrier that prevents product fromseeping into the header.
3. Zipper for bottom-fill pouch. This option may find application in a hooded-style, three-side-seal pouch. During pouch-making, the zipper attaches to the header. A specially crafted membrane prevents moist or dry product from entering into the header.
Consumers favor zippers, sliders, but won't pay more
Consumers like the convenience of zipper- and slider-closured flexible packaging and interlocking bags, and would like to see them on a wider array of products.
Those findings come from a recent study by Zip-Pak. The study asked consumers which categories are untapped or underserved by these flexible packaging "add-ons" but would draw their interest at the shelf.
Categories include:
  • Personal care items (cotton swabs, barrettes, cotton balls)
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Raisins
  • Bread
  • Hot chocolate
  • Cookies
  • Cereal
  • Chips and pretzels ("all those things I have to clip")
  • Hot dogs
  • Pancake mix
  • Brown sugar
  • Baking soda
  • Rice
  • Pasta
Zip-Pak's research also determined that aging Baby Boomers might drive additional sales due to an expected increase in arthritis.
While consumers welcome the convenience of packaging with zippers or sliders, those who responded to the study say they won't pay more for it.