According to a recent study by the The Freedonia Group, U.S. demand for plastic film is expected to grow 1.5 percent per year through 2018 to 15.4 billion pounds total, valued at $24.9 billion. Increasingly popular in the fresh produce and snack food categories, polypropylene film—a material often used in stand-up pouches—is projected to see above average growth.
One factor driving the popularity of pouch packaging formats in particular is the role that closures play in consumer engagement and product protection. According to Datamonitor Consumer, “pouches or flow-wraps that need superhuman efforts to open are declining rapidly, the whole flexible packaging concept needs to recognize the importance of secure closing coupled with easy opening, dispense and reclosability.”
Reclosable—or resealable—packaging is increasingly in demand among consumers who prioritize product freshness and convenience. As this demand rises and more brand owners across different food categories respond with resealable features, it will be critical to market these convenience-enhancing attributes at the point of purchase.
Why Resealability Sells
At every point across the supply chain, flexible packages with resealable press-to-close (PTC) or slider closures have a lot to offer. They provide a high level of convenience to consumers who want to ensure a purchased product remains fresh. Tactile zippers give consumers the assurance of a secure seal, while slider closures can be easy to use for consumers of any age. Many of these closure designs are popular with individuals who may lack dexterity like young children or the elderly. New closures have even been developed to improve consumer safety. An example is the Child-Guard child-resistant slider that was introduced to the market as a flexible packaging option for manufacturers of regulated products.
Resealable packaging also lends itself to continuous consumer engagement with a brand. If a package cannot be resealed, consumers often have no other choice than to transfer a product into another non-branded container. Besides being inconvenient for the consumer, this represents a lost opportunity for brand exposure. Packaging that reseals not only offers convenience and extended product freshness, it also continuously showcases a brand.
Easy Integration, Reduced Waste
There is good news for manufacturers who wish to adopt resealable options into their packaging. Technical advances have allowed zippers and sliders to be integrated efficiently into the manufacturing process. New zipper tapes, for example, have been designed for easy incorporation into automated form, fill and seal equipment.
There are also inherent sustainability advantages in using resealable packaging. A zipper enables a primary package to be used continuously throughout a product’s lifecycle, eliminating the need for additional containers, which reduces material use and cost. There are also zipper spool recycling programs for manufacturers that help improve sustainability efforts. Resealable flexible packaging is also lighter-weight and more compact than rigid packaging. These qualities make shipping and logistics more efficient, which ultimately reduces greenhouse gas emissions.
Stand-up pouches also save on labor costs at the retail level because they are easier to stock on store shelves. They are shelf-stable and well suited to meet the increasing demand for retail-ready packaging (RRP).
The Future Looks Flexible
Consumers are accustomed to seeing resealable pouches for products such as shredded cheese. This packaging format’s effectiveness at maintaining the integrity of shredded cheeses while locking in moisture over multiple uses is well proven to consumers. Given this success, the food industry is witnessing a crossover of the pouch format into other food categories. This includes dry products that need to stay moisture-free and crisp over multiple openings and closings. It is not uncommon for consumers to now see stand-up pouches being used for products such as pretzels, crackers, trail mixes and other dry foods.
A good example of the potential for stand-up resealable pouches includes cereals. For decades it has been common practice to use clips to keep bag-in-box cereals from going stale. Additionally, parents often create healthy snacks for children by putting portioned amounts of low-sugar cereal into sandwich bags for makeshift, on-the-go munching. Using a resealable pouch format, consumers have the convenience of portable snacks at-the-ready, while manufacturers reap the benefits of extended brand exposure by keeping products in their original packaging.
For snack products, shaped pouches with slider closures can be used for hassle-free, on-the-go snacks. Such packages offer a convenient format for busy families. Young children could easily open and consume snacks during an afternoon full of activities such as sporting events and play dates—and reseal them when finished, saving the rest for later. Parents would not need to bother creating separate snack bags that might wind up at the bottom of a purse or diaper bag.
The food industry is not the only potential for the stand-up resealable pouch. Any multi-serve product such as powdered beverages that mix with water, milk or other liquids would be well suited to a shelf-stable flexible pouch format. With the advent of child-resistant sliders, the flexible pouch could also be useful for over-the-counter pharmaceuticals and nutraceuticals.
Brand owners understand that consumers are willing to pay a premium for quality enhancements, and examples abound across all product categories—from organic foods, gluten-free snacks, fortified nutritional cereals, premium pet foods and treats, vitamins, nutritional supplements, to over-the-counter pharmaceuticals. There is a market for products that guarantee freshness and convenience, and the stand-up resealable pouch is ready for its close-up.
To help motivate consumer buying decisions, brand owners need to communicate clearly the value of resealable flexible packaging, as well as the fact that investments are being made in new packaging formats that improve consumer convenience and product integrity. It’s important to promote a package’s resealing features. Besides convenience and freshness, brand owners can also appeal to other consumer preferences by illustrating the added benefits of waste reduction and environmental sustainability. Methods to promote these features include leveraging clear windows and graphic enhancements on packaging, as well as incorporating digital interactivity to engage consumers with a brand.
These days more flexible pouches than ever before are standing proud on retail shelves. Given the many benefits they offer consumers, their numbers are surely expected to grow.