FPA Annual Meeting Shines Spotlight on Flexible Packaging's Future
The Flexible Packaging Association’s (FPA) Annual Meeting, held last week in Boca Raton, Fla., demonstrated that as flexible packaging continues its rapid growth, brands and converters are working together to develop innovative flexible packaging solutions with increased functionality, sustainability and graphics.
As is tradition, the FPA’s Flexible Packaging Achievement Awards & Innovation Showcase served as the meeting’s centerpiece, featuring the finest examples of flexible packaging applications submitted by FPA members.
The competition’s top honor — the Highest Achievement Award — was recognized for all of these attributes. Bemis Company, Inc. received the honor for the second consecutive year, this time for its Hunt’s Recipe Ready tomato paste pouch. The pouch served as a prime example of the advantages that transitioning from rigid to flexible packaging can provide.
Most tomato paste consumers should be familiar with the standard 6-oz. tomato paste can, but this pouch reduces the mess with a premeasured 2 tablespoon serving. Additionally, the pouch’s BPA-free barrier films provide a shelf life of a full year. And with Hunt’s distinctive red color prominently displayed, along with the brand logo, Hunt’s did not lose any branding elements by making the transition.
Two other award winners that earned kudos for their standout print jobs were Printpack’s Cape Cod Bags of Cash Promo Package and American Packaging Corp.’s Nudges Grillers Dog Treats pouch, which both earned Gold Awards for printing and shelf impact. The Cape Cod potato chips bag featured images of money and a metallic pouch to promote a giveaway. The combination of matte film and metallic printing were particularly impressive to the judges.
The Nudges dog treats pouch received recognition for its high-definition flexographic print job, featuring a realistic looking dog. The use of a window that allows consumers to view the dog treats inside the pouch also earned points for American Packaging Corp.
While the Achievement Awards showcased some of the industry’s finest examples of flexible packaging, the Annual Meeting also focused on the growth trajectory for flexible packaging. Rob Tiede, chairman of the FPA’s board of directors and the executive VP and COO of Sonoco Products Co., opened the meeting’s first general session with an update on the state of the industry.
Tiede explained that sustainability is one of the major forces impacting flexible packaging. While flexibles do offer several sustainable advantages, such as reduced emissions generated during flexible packaging manufacturing and diminished transportation costs, he reiterated that it is important to consumers, brands and government entities that more flexible packaging can be recovered in the recycle stream. Because of this, Tiede explained that one of the FPA’s top sustainability goals is to help increase the amount of flexible packaging that can be recovered.
Tiede also highlighted that consumers continue to respond favorably to the convenience and functionality of flexible packaging. He described how the global middle class is experiencing significant growth. This growth combined with the on-the-go lifestyle consumers are adopting bode well for flexible packaging.
During the meeting’s second general session, Jeff Wooster, global sustainability director for The Dow Chemical Co., dove deeper into sustainability strategies for the flexible packaging industry. Wooster explained that despite the many sustainable advantages flexible packaging provides, some consumers take on a negative view of plastic packaging because much of it cannot be recycled via curbside pickup.
Wooster explained that while a large percentage of flexible packaging can be recycled via in-store drop off programs, many consumers who demand recyclability of their packaging appreciate when it is easy to do so. To help improve the at-home flexible packaging recovery process, Wooster explained that Dow has launched its Energy Bag program, which provides a specially designated bag for consumers to fill with discarded flexible packaging, which is then collected and converted into an energy resource.
To conclude the meeting, Alison Keane, president and CEO of the FPA, outlined the roadmap for the association’s advocacy program. She explained that the flexible packaging industry is in a strong position to further its outreach and provide additional education on the benefits it provides. Keane explained that there have been several legislative initiatives in multiple states to reduce or ban plastic packaging, and the FPA will continue to provide a voice for the industry in regions where these types of laws have been discussed. She also described how the FPA plans to increase its communication via several channels, including social media.
Speakers from outside the industry added some star power to the meeting, as attendees were treated to presentations from Marci Rossell, former chief economist for CNBC, and Scott Kelly, a record-setting NASA astronaut who spent an entire year in space. Rossell’s presentation provided an insightful economic forecast for 2017, which helped provide some clarity for businesses in an evolving political landscape.
Kelly’s inspirational speech discussed the importance of embracing challenges, working as a team and breaking a difficult task into small, manageable steps. Spending a full year in space was an immensely challenging feat, he said, but these strategies helped him persevere.