Food Packaging: In the resealable future
The standup, resealable pouch seems to be taking over the retail shelf, offering consumers freshness and convenience.
If you take a trip to the grocery store, you’ll see the popularity of standup pouches. In fact, as a whole, the flexible packaging industry reached approximately $32.7 billion in 2015, and food producers use the most flexible packaging (57 percent compared to rigid packaging), according to the 2015 Flexible Packaging Market Assessment Report from PMMI, the Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies.
Experts say many factors are driving the popularity of pouch packaging. One of these is resealability. According to figures from the U.S. Census Bureau, over 61 percent of Americans live in one- or two-person households, with people living alone making up a record 27 percent. For these smaller households, the ability to reseal food packaging is becoming more and more important.
“Flexible packages with resealable press-to-close [PTC] or slider closures have a lot to offer. For instance, they provide a high level of convenience to consumers who want to ensure a purchased product remains fresh,” explains Richard Custer, commercial director of Fresh-Lock, Slide-Rite and specialty films for Presto Products Company. “Tactile zippers give consumers the assurance of a secure seal, while slider closures can be easy to use for consumers of any age.”
Additionally, pouches can be attractive for eco-minded consumers searching for sustainable packaging. Compared to rigid packaging, resealable flexible packaging is lighter and more compact, qualities that help cut greenhouse gas and shipping costs. In addition, a zipper allows the food to stay in its original packaging, reducing food waste and eliminating the need for any additional storage materials. Also, keeping food in its original packaging gives the brand more exposure and consumer engagement.
“If a package cannot be resealed, consumers often have no other choice than to transfer a product into a non-branded container,” Custer says. “Packaging that reseals not only offers convenience and extended product freshness, it also continuously showcases a brand.”
Another reason for the growth of standup pouches is the availability of machinery improvements that allow resealable features to be integrated efficiently into the manufacturing process. For example, new zipper tapes have been designed for easy incorporation into automated form/fill/seal equipment. Retailers also like pouches since they are shelf ready and have more surface room to display graphics. Plus, they are easier to stock on store shelves.
All of this suggests flexible standup pouches are poised for even more growth. Custer thinks one natural fit for the format is cereal.
“For decades, it has been common practice to use clips to keep bag-in-box cereals from going stale,” he says. Now, a resealable pouch can address that problem. “Additionally, parents often create healthy snacks for their children by putting portioned amounts of low-sugar cereal into sandwich bags for makeshift, on-the-go munching. With a resealable pouch format, consumers have the convenience of portable snacks at the ready.”