News Feature | May 16, 2014

Flexible Packaging Stands Up To The Competition, Locks In Demand Growth

By Isaac Fletcher, contributing writer, Food Online

Flexible Food Packaging

With numerous advantages over traditional packaging, the demand for pouch packaging is expected to see continued growth as food manufacturers warm up to the trend

The demand for pouch packaging does not show signs of slowing down anytime soon. With an annual growth in the U.S. of 4.6 percent, the market is expected to be worth $9.4 billion by 2018, according to a recent study from the Freedonia Group. Furthermore, the pouch unit demand is projected to expand 2.7 percent annually to 92 billion by 2018. Analysts argue that growth will be driven by continued opportunities for stand-up pouches.

When compared to traditional packaging, pouch packaging offers advantages of superior aesthetic appeal, improved portability, lighter weight, smaller material need, and significantly lower shipping costs. In an era of expensive transportation and a focus on reducing material inputs, manufacturers are finding the advantages offered by flexible packaging to be more important than ever. Pouches can be used to package an array of products, and food and beverage markets account for 80 percent of the total pouch demand.

Video: The efficiency of pouch filling through automation

Stand-up pouches are expected to remain a major growth segment in the overall packaging industry over the next several years, with demand predicted to expand 6.5 percent annually. Design innovations will be the result of an increased interest among food companies to cut costs and increase efficiency. Additionally, the current trend of improving sustainability — which is very likely here to stay — can be better achieved through flexible packaging.

Another important consideration is the opportunity offered by stand-up pouches for manufacturers to differentiate products. Before a consumer ever purchases or tastes a product, the product needs to capture their attention, and packaging is the first step in gaining a consumer’s interest. Stand-up pouches provide an advantage in this area due to their large front-panel space for graphics and branding as well as the perception that pouches are more contemporary packaging compared to traditional boxes.

Another segment of the overall pouch market, flat pouches, is expected to experience annual demand growth of 4 percent. Food applications, such as those for meat, poultry, seafood, sauces, and condiments will be the primary drivers of flat pouch market growth in the food industry. Growth in demand for flat pouches will likely lag behind that of stand-up pouches due to the already high usage of flat pouches in many applications.