Packaging trends pop up pretty quickly, and even when you have your finger on the pulse of the industry, there are always innovative new ways to present your items that you may not have considered.
Stand-up pouches (SUPs) are one of the most convenient, flexible and trendy new packaging options. They’ve been around for decades, but with the public’s growing interest in efficiency and waste reduction, they’re rapidly growing in popularity.
SUPs usually have a resealable zipper, track and/or spout, and can carry solid, liquid or powdered items. Single-serve drinks like Capri Sun, to-go snacks, any baby food or granola containers also come in pouches. Scan the shelves of any retail store in 2019, and you’ll see these flexible pouches all over the place.
The Ever-Growing Flexible Packaging Segment
Because they’re functional, flexible and have a wealth of potential uses, SUPs are more popular than ever — and an important addition to the options available in manufacturing.
More and more products are being offered in pouches, from coffee beans to soap refills to potato chips.
According to a study by the Freedonia Group, demand for stand up pouches in the U.S. will grow at a CAGR of almost 6% to $2.9 billion by 2022.
Because they’re light and take up less shelf space, stand-up pouches often make product handling and storage easier — so they should be a serious packaging consideration for many manufacturers.
The Benefits for Brands, Manufacturers and Consumers
Stand up pouches come with many benefits, depending on your product needs or contents, such as:
Resealability: Stand up pouches are often resealable, a major plus for consumers. With reclosable sliding zippers, for example, perishable snacks like vegetables stay fresh for longer. Plus, they make opening and closing the products much easier for people who may have disabilities or face challenges with dexterity.
- Clear windows: Transparency is an option with pouches. These windows allow consumers to view the container’s contents and frequently increasing likelihood of purchase. As a recent Forbes article noted, “Going beyond just the listed ingredients on the label, consumers also want to see the physical product before purchase.”
Recyclability: These pouches are often recyclable, or can be made with recyclable or sustainable materials — a key ingredient for today’s market expectations. There are limitations once you get into multi-layer pouches that include foil and other barrier layers.
- Fewer materials: SUPs require less material to produce than many competing options, reducing waste and manufacturing costs, and lowering the carbon footprint. Since they’re lighter, it also reduces transportation costs. Consumers are also seeking more sustainable options, so these pouches offer retail appeal.
Spouts: Added spouts on top of these pouches allow products like sauces and other liquids to be easily poured without any added mess.
Durability/Stiffness: Even though stand up pouches are made from flexible materials, they’re hardy, and designed to remain standing — even if the pouch is only partially full. That’s they they’re perfect for resealable products or items that may be used intermittently.
- Handles: Handles are an additional choice for stand up pouches. Adding these allows consumers to easily carry the product without the need for an additional bag.
In addition, the SUP trend is in keeping with consumers shifting eating habits. People have been moving away from three main meals and moving toward eating snacks and smaller items throughout the day.
According to a 2018 study by Technomic, consumers are more likely now (than in 2016) to replace one or two meals per day with snacks, instead. Eighty percent of consumers say they snack at least once a day. Stand-up pouches support that trend, as they’re often reclosable and are perfect for single-size servings.
Manufacturing Challenges That Come with Stand-Up Pouches
While SUPs are the perfect fit for many items, they’re certainly not for everyone. They do present specific challenges when it comes to manufacturing and packaging and aren’t an ideal choice in all scenarios. Some of those challenges include:
- Machinery changes. The filling machinery required for stand up pouches can be expensive to implement. It’s a different system that what’s traditionally in place for packaging, and not all organizations have the capital to invest in something new. Check out how it works in this video: https://youtu.be/2YS2JsLw7hM.
- Inefficiency. While the pouches themselves may be an efficient means of storage and containment, the filling process itself isn’t always. It depends on the product in question. With breakfast cereals, for instance, the filling process or line speed of pouch machinery would have to equate with the speed of current equipment — and that isn’t the case yet.
Unsuitability. Not all products are good contenders for stand up pouches. Take ice cream, for example. Frozen treat containers need rigid sides; scooping the contents requires resistance.
Will Stand-Up Pouches Work for You?
While stand up pouches aren’t a “one size fits all” solution for packaging, they are a flexible, efficient technology with a wide variety of uses — and a great addition to the growing selection of more sustainable, customizable options for manufacturers.
If your company makes a product that sounds like a fit for this type of packaging, it’s worth exploring what’s available.