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FLEXO Magazine : June 2008
INDUSTRY INDICATORS The Versatile Pouch Reaching Broader Consumer Acceptance & Mass Market Appeal I n a recent keynote presentation at the Packaging Strategies Global Pouch Forum 2008, Jeff Kellar, president, Reynolds Flexible Packaging, pronounced that the era of the pouch as a leading packaging format with mass market appeal has come. One could easily agree with this by entering into a local grocery and noting the pouches that are being introduced across a host of nationally recognized brand name products, from Ragu and Bertolli pasta sauce, to Star Kist and Chicken of the Sea ready-to- eat-tuna or meat products, to Uncle Ben's ready-to-heat rice, and even Eggland's Best ready-to-eat hard boiled eggs! The versatile pouch is entering into the mainstream and gaining visibility as a trusted packaging format, a trust that, for years, had been relegated to cans and glass, and within more recent years, plastic bottles. Why the shift in pouch packaging acceptance? One reason, Kellar surmises, is that 27 years ago, the parents of today were carefree children enjoying Capri Sun in its new, innovative single-serve pouch. They have grown up with the pouch as a familiar and trusted packaging format. It is only natu- ral that these same individuals, whose own children are now sip- ping fruit juice from the flexible pouch, would accept the pouch in other product categories. During his presentation, Kellar referenced the Arbor Strategy Group's Innovation Tree lll as an analysis method that can explain the increasing mass market acceptance of the pouch. The cor- nerstone drivers of mainstream acceptance include safety, con- venience, gratification and wellness. Kellar noted that the pouch is evolving into formats that now fulfill two main cornerstone consumer drivers, convenience and gratification. More products are being introduced in a retortable pouch format, which provides optimum convenience for the busy consumer. These same prod- ucts, due to improved pouch barrier technologies for preserving flavor and freshness, also provide consumer gratification in taste. In addition, consumers are more willing to adopt a new form of packaging from a trusted, nationally recognized brand, making the purchase decision based on brand loyalty and emotion, rather than a rational decision. In essence, leading brands, by introducing their products in the pouch, are validating the new packaging format. Wider market acceptance of the pouch format is evidenced through the steady increase of pouches introduced into the mar- ketplace, particularly in the past 10 years. Since 1997, pouches have increased tenfold and are now matching cans in key cat- egories such as tomato sauce, dog food, and soups. There are 36 billion cans of food consumed each year, but, with the developing retort technology, the pouch is positioned to compete head-to- head with the traditional can on all market fronts. The consumers of today are comfortable with the pouch for mainstream food solutions. They are also looking for cooking convenience and easy-to-openjstore packaging features. Retort pouches, some with zippers, offer this. In addition, a retort pouch can provide enhanced safety with the removal of sharp edges, a better tasting product, and improved sustainability. Better tasting products are available via the retort pouch because the high surfacejvolume ratio of contents to package reduces the retort time by 30 to 50 percent over traditional can- ning methods. The cooking heat penetrates the pouch materials quickly and food near the wall of the package is not overcooked. This leads to improved taste and nutrition. The pouch is also a more sustainable product versus the traditional can because of its lighter weight and reduced energy requirements for produc- tion. Plus, the reduction in space required to transport pouched products versus cans is significant! A single truckload of pouches equals 25 truckloads of cans! The pouch in its various current materials, however, is not without its challenges. The pouch is not easily recyclable due to its multiple layers. More work needs to be done to develop a pouch with reduced material requirements while providing the same barrier, easy-to-openjclose convenience and reheating features that are increasing the broad market acceptance of this versatile, consumer-friendly packaging form. Even so, the retort pouch is predicted to have 10-per- cent plus annual growth rate over the next few years, making it one of the fastest growing packaging formats in the industry. . BUSINESS GROWTH HIGHLIGHTS DISCUSSED AT THE 2008 GLOBAL POUCH FORUM Technology is only viable when it satisfied the needs and desires of customers, and pouch converters and suppliers must be more consumer-driven. Resealable packaging is transitioning to the next generation by offering tem- perature and time-elapsed sensors, anti -counterfeiting devices, aroma features, and post-applied zippers and seals, said Zip-Pak's Robert Hogan. "Quasi-rigid" packag- ing-a new term coined at the event-that blends the attributes of flexible packaging with a more rigid format (such as a container) could mean a step change for pouches. www.f I exog ra p hy.o rg JUNE Most consumers have a different opinion on what sustainable packaging means, have difficulty understanding the value of plastic packag- ing, and want to "do the right thing" with sustainability but have no idea how to go about it, according to a video sur- vey of shoppers by a market- ing communications firm. An abundance of new pouch formats are coming from Japan, including edge pouches, new spout tops, stackable sleeve-in-pouch and gourmet coffee cups. A new pouch for a line of cleaning wipes uses a poly- propylene-based monomate- rial format that could become one of the first recyclable pouches on the market. 2008 FLEXO c:) Z - c:) III( u :: III ..... III - >< III ..... I&. -