Flexible packaging is desired for its consumer appeal, versatility, and design flexibility. From snacks to cleaning products, flexible packaging offers a range of benefits that traditional packaging cannot match. However, with so many options, choosing the optimal packaging for your product and brand needs can be overwhelming. By understanding the flexible packaging types, you can make the right choice for your product and brand needs.
The Popularity of Flexible Packaging
Metal, glass, and paper have long been used as packaging, some dating back to ancient times. In comparison, flexible packaging is relatively new, only appearing on the scene with the accidental discovery of PVC film (Saran™ wrap) in 1930. The Popularity of Flexible Packaging
While a newcomer to the packaging world, flexible packaging shot up in popularity and has grabbed the largest market share (19%) in the packaging industry, with more than $33 billion in sales. Today, fifty-two percent of flexible packaging is used for food products, with medical and pharmaceutical, pet food, personal care, tobacco, industrial products, consumer products, and other non-food products making up the remainder. The growth of this segment is primarily driven by consumer demand for packaged, processed food and beverages; increased user convenience; and enhanced aesthetic appeal. Sustainability also plays a role owing to its energy and environmental advantages – fewer materials, reduced transportation costs, and extended product shelf-life.
How to Choose the Best Flexible Packaging Type
Choosing the right flexible packaging can be a complex decision, but considering several factors can help guide the decision process.
Understanding Goals – First, it is essential to determine what your goals are. If you use a different packaging that creates issues and increases your costs, these issues may drive your goals. Your goals may be to improve shelf life, minimize product loss in transit, or provide a better user experi-ence.
Product Characteristics – The product’s physical properties, such as its size, shape, weight, and fragility, can significantly impact the choice of packaging material. Consider its functional needs as well. Will the product need to be sterilized or processed with high-pressure processing? Does it need to vent? How long of a shelf life is required? .
Environmental Exposure – What type of environment will your product be exposed to? Does it need barriers from oxygen or moisture? Will it be exposed to refrigeration, high humidity, fluctuating temperatures, or high elevations? All of these should be considered when choosing a packaging and packaging type.
Customer Requirements – whether your customers include warehouse workers, retailers, end users, or someone else, consider what they need in the packaging to improve their experience. For example, does it need a flat bottom to sit on a shelf, or will it be shipped in retail-ready packaging? Does your end user need the product to be resealable, or is it a one-time-use product? Improving the customer experience is key to repeat sales.
Equipment Requirements – The equipment needed to fill your flexible packaging is a significant consideration. Purchasing new equipment is a large capital investment
Graphics and Branding – Packaging is a valuable tool for branding and marketing a product. The choice of material can play a crucial role in creating an attractive and eye-catching design. For example, films with high clarity or matte finishes can create a premium look and feel.
Sustainability Goals – Plastic gets a bad rap for polluting the environment, but flexible packaging can provide a positive environmental solution and assist in reaching sustainability goals. Life cycle assessments have shown that flexible packaging has preferable environmental attributes for certain products compared to other packaging types.
Cost – Finally, but no less important, is your budget. The packaging chosen will impact the prod-uct’s price and your profit margins. Looking at the total costs can provide more flexibility with pricing. For example, if your shipping costs are reduced because packaging size and weight are reduced, savings can be realized even if the flexible packaging costs slightly more per unit
Characteristics of Different Flexible Packaging Types
There are multiple decisions to be made when designing the perfect flexible packaging. This includes the material, characteristics, seals, and more.
Choosing an appropriate film substrate will ensure your product has the required protection. Many substrates are available, including laminates, polypropylene, coextrusions, low and medium-density polyethylene, EVOH, acrylic-coated BOPP films, PET, water-soluble films, metalized PET, and many more. Each material provides unique advantages and disadvantages. Working with your flexible packaging provider is important if you are unfamiliar with various film characteristics.
Flexible packaging comes in many styles, such as stand-up pouches, pillow pouches, wicketed bags, sleeves and cone bags, shrink packaging, and roll stock. There are various choices to be made for each packaging type.
To demonstrate some of the choices available, we will look closer at flexible stand-up pouches. Stand up are the most well-known and are popular for food items. They may be bottom-gusseted or side gusseted, but they can all stand on their own. Bottom gusseted pouches often have tops with tear notches for easy removal and may have a zipper top that allows them to be resealed. If made for a liquid product, they may have a resealable spout (fitment) or a spot to insert a straw. They may also have vent holes, perforations, or hang holes and handles. Side gusseted bags have expandable pleats to accommodate bulkier products. They may have a bottom fold-over or a quad seal.
With so many options available, consider consulting with a specialist. Look for a plastic packaging manufacturer offering innovative solutions, in-depth knowledge of plastic material science, the equipment to provide what you need, and a robust quality system in place.
Revolutionizing Your Packaging Experience with PPC
At PPC, we understand that packaging is more than just a protective covering for your products. It’s a reflection of your brand and a critical component of your customer experience. That’s why we’re committed to transforming the way you experience packaging.
With our expert team by your side, you’ll have access to the latest and most innovative packaging solutions in the industry. Whether you need a custom-designed packaging solution or a tried-and-true standard, we’ll work with you every step to deliver a cost-competitive solution that meets your unique needs.
So why settle for ordinary packaging when you can experience the extraordinary with PPC? Contact us today to see how we can transform your packaging experience and take your brand to the next level.