What’s causing a shift from traditional materials to flexible packaging types?

Supermarket shopping

Packaging film demand is benefiting from the growing market share of the large retail chains worldwide. These chains have expanded the market for packaged food with their focus on cost reduction and shelf-life extension.

Retail chains have dominated food and drink markets in advanced countries for many years. Food and drink retailing in developing economies of Eastern Europe, Asia and South America, has traditionally been dominated by smaller, local and independent artisan stores, largely offering unpacked food. Domestic supermarkets chains are spreading in these regions, and are taking a growing share of food and drink consumption.

Supermarket are becoming especially favoured by consumers due to their wide product ranges and diverse choice of premium brands, usually unavailable in other types of outlets. There has also been growth in the number of discount stores and private label products, which enables those on lower incomes to purchase packaged food and drinks at more affordable prices.

Pouching machinery

Pouches, and particularly stand-up pouches, are the fastest-growing product category within flexible packaging. The new generation of vertical form-fill systems (VFFS) are capable of delivering faster production speeds, greater versatility and improved sealing techniques. In the current economic climate there is a growing need to reduce the time to market for even the most basic commodity items, a trend that is placing pressure on packer fillers to meet increasingly tight delivery schedules cost effectively.

Pouch production machinery development is one of the most buoyant areas of the packaging equipment segment. A major challenge is the fill line speeds of pouches in comparison to bottles - especially for transitioning beverages to flexible formats. One of the greatest steps forward has been the development of continuous pouch filling machines to replace slower intermittent machines. Large format pouches, previously limited to 80 - 100 pouches per minute (ppm), can now be run off at 250 ppm.

Source: Smithers Pira