Flexible Packaging Continues to Connect with Brands and Consumers
While all four of the major packaging segments are full of growth opportunities, it’s flexible packaging that seems to be riding a major wave of momentum provided by the right combination of consumer trends and technological innovations. In our 2018 State of the Industry report on the flexible packaging sector, packagePRINTING reporter Patrick Henry details how flexible packaging’s versatility, convenience, sustainability attributes, and more, are making it an area of the packaging industry with tremendous upside.
In particular, the report provides insight into the rapid growth of the flexible packaging segment, and the eye-opening statistics that demonstrate how a variety of products that were once packaged in rigid formats are now transitioning into flexible packaging applications. Additionally, the report identifies the key markets that are proving to be the most opportune for this growing segment.
Flexible Packaging Fits the Lifestyle
Arguably, the No. 1 driving factor for the growth of any packaging segment is how receptive consumers are to it. This packaging industry analysis highlights how the on-the-go lifestyle that many consumers have adopted provides a perfect platform for flexible packaging. Because flexible packaging is a lightweight, portable packaging format that can be easily resealed, consumers have shown an appreciation for its ability to assist their need for mobile food and beverage consumption.
Additionally, because consumers are placing an emphasis on eating fresh foods and cutting down on food waste, many are coming around to the concept that flexible packaging is a strong packaging format for food preservation, extending the life of the food or beverage item for a longer period of time after purchase.
Beyond the convenience factor however, advancements in the materials used to make flexible packaging have increased its strength and durability, making it a stronger option for heavier or industrial items. Closures for flexible packaging have also extended beyond the traditional zippers and sliders and many flexible pouches have been outfitted with spouts, sprayers and other innovative attributes to keep the pouch closed while dispensing the product inside.
Freshness and Sustainability
Part of what makes flexible packaging such an appealing packaging format is its ability to maintain food freshness. With its strong barrier properties, flexible packaging can extend the shelf life of foods both in store and in the consumer’s home. Not only does this attribute help consumers extend their spending dollars, it also correlates to the consumer demand for sustainable packaging by reducing food waste.
However, there are other sustainability elements that flexible packaging can boast that often aren’t as visible to the end user of the product. One is that the energy and resources needed to manufacture a flexible package are often less than what would be found in a rigid packaging format. Despite its sustainability benefits, because many of them aren’t consumer facing, the report indicates that the flexible packaging industry does face some challenges as it seeks to spread its sustainability message to the masses.
The Visual Appeal to Compete
Historically, one of the knocks against flexible packaging was that it did not provide the high-quality graphics of many of its rigid packaging counterparts. However, this report explains that several technological advancements in printing and finishing technology have brought flexible packaging to a new playing field.
Specifically, the advancements in high-definition flexographic plates have made many pouches just as eye-catching as rigid packaging options. Additionally, innovations in creative diecutting and clear plastic windows that allow consumers to see the product inside the package make for a strong visual appearance that has been key to flexible packaging’s rise.
Additionally, flat bottom and standup pouches provide the key advantages of flexible packaging while maintaining the ability to stand up on shelf and provide a billboard effect, removing the visibility obstacles that may have plagued pouches in the past.
The Hot Markets
While the report details that just about every consumer market has a demand for flexible packaging, food and beverage are still the markets where flexible packaging reigns supreme. The report provides specific details as to why flexible packaging is a logical choice for these areas, and why many consumers state they prefer to see these items packaged this way.
Additionally, pet food products, pharmaceuticals and household products are proving to be growth areas for flexible packaging.
Safety features have also made flexible packaging an attractive format, as anti-counterfeiting aspects have led to brand owners of products susceptible to knock offs to seek out flexible packaging.
With convenience, sustainability, high-quality graphics and product safety on its side, it’s hard to argue with the bright future flexible packaging has in front of it.