Industry experts foresee continue growth in the flexible packaging industry, fueled by two developments: increasing consumer demands for convenient packages, and an industry push for sustainable, shelf-ready product designs, according to the Flexible Packaging Market Assessment produced by PMMI, The Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies.

Globally, pouches account for the majority of the flexible packaging used. Pouches are the fastest growing category and, within that, the pillow pouch is the predominant format. The popularity of pouches is driven by their flexibility and easy to carry, lightweight nature. However, retailers such as Walmart are pushing manufacturers toward stand-up pouches (SUP), which are viewed as shelf-ready.

The SUP segment constitutes 28% of the global packaging market, reports the PMMI study. Stand-up pouches are forecasted to account for a growing share in 2022 because of expanding consumption of food, beverage, dairy and cosmetic products. The healthcare industry also looks to SUPs due to the rising consumption of over-the-counter products for which SUPs are used.

Rising demand for ready-to-eat foods due to hectic consumer schedules particularly in urban regions are also propelling the use of pouches. Advances in pouch characteristics — including convenience features like resealable closures, spouts and tear notches — as well as pouch manufacturing technology continue to lower production costs, making pouches more competitive with other forms of packaging, like cartons and cans.

The move toward convenience sees a shift in products transitioning to flexible pouch packaging where they had not used it before. For example, pouch production of canned products such as sauces, soups and processed meat.

Also in demand are innovative dispensing functions that let consumers pour or consume products more easily. One example is baby food traditionally packaged in jars transitioning to pouches with anti-swallow closure features. The interest in retail-ready packaging continues to push companies toward flexible packaging to simplify stocking and shelving.

As ecommerce increases in importance, it is also driving the need to make flexible packaging more durable to protect products during shipping. Amazon and other e-tailers require that manufacturers meet specific flexible packaging standards. For instance, Amazon requires extra shrink to prevent leaking or, alternatively, that liquid be packaged in a pouch — driving manufacturers to produce liquid in pouches, as they cost less than the alternative.

Whether looking to deliver convenience or sustainable pouch packaging, PACK EXPO East 2020 (March 3-5; Pennsylvania Convention Center, Philadelphia) provides innovative solutions from 400 exhibiting companies spanning 100,000 square feet of exhibit space. Produced by PMMI, the three-day event will provide the venue for attendees to exchange ideas with 7,000 peers. The event will offer free world-class educational offerings on the show floor. In the center of the action, the Innovation Stage will present ample opportunity for professional enrichment during 30-minute seminars where attendees learn about breakthrough technologies, innovative applications and proven approaches from the experts themselves. The Forum takes a collaborative approach to learning and will feature 45-minute open sessions on the latest industry trends by industry thought leaders like the OpX Leadership Network, Institute of Packaging Professionals, Contract Packagers Association and PMMI Business Intelligence.

Registration is $30 through Feb. 7 after which the price increases to $100.

For more information and to register online, visit

PMMI, The Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies, represents more than 800 North American manufacturers and suppliers of equipment, components and materials as well as providers of related equipment and services to the packaging and processing industry. We work to advance a variety of industries by connecting consumer goods companies with manufacturing solutions through the world-class PACK EXPO portfolio of trade shows, leading trade media and a wide range of resources to empower our members. The PACK EXPO trade shows unite the world of packaging and processing to advance the industries they serve: PACK EXPO International, PACK EXPO Las Vegas, Healthcare Packaging EXPO, PACK EXPO East, EXPO PACK México, EXPO PACK Guadalajara and ProFood Tech.