Flexible Packaging Global Industry : Future Outlook
2017 was a strong year for the global flexible packaging industry. While all the segments in the flexible packaging industry experienced the growth, the segment of flexible pouches stood out for which the growth rate was 7.9% globally. According to a poll conducted by the Flexible Packaging Association, 83% of all brand owners use flexible packaging of some sort, while 26% of the brands have been using it for the past 5 years and in the next 5 years, 31% would be increasing their use of flexible packaging.
That is a great news for the flexible packaging industry but an even better news depicted by the poll is that the rigid packaging is being replaced at an increasing rate because of lower cost of flexible packaging production. Another main reason which was described for the increased conversion to flexible packaging in 2017 was the consumer appeal.
Poll Results of FPA Survey
According to 2018 Packaging Outlook Report featured in Packaging Strategies news, the trend towards digital printing and flexible packaging is ever increasing which is stimulating the increased mergers and acquisitions. Also the fastest growing segment of flexible packaging is identified to be the stand-up pouch which has the estimated growth rate of 7 to 9% up till 2023.
There are numerous reasons why the pouches have been increasingly popular recently. Companies increasingly focus on providing products which solve the consumer’s problem. Packaging is the first thing that the consumer comes across. In case of rigid packaging, it is harder to open, hard to use and hard to dispose off. As for the flexible packaging, especially pouches, they are convenient, easy to open, lightweight and reseal-able. Another great feature is the product visibility in such pouches which does not leave any ambiguity in terms of what is inside the packaging.
2017 saw a number of flexible packaging innovations. One of the award winner is a pouch made by Flex Films for freshly cut flowers which keeps the flowers fresh during transport, using a special film which allows the package to breathe. Another new packaging was made by a company ConAgra’s Hunt which made 2 teaspoon portion sized pouches for tomato paste for home use which is actually convenient and brilliant as there is no danger of product going foul when the quantity is roughly around what is used.
Another reason for flexible packaging’s increasing popularity and growth rate in the coming years is the industry trends which this type of packaging addresses. Firstly flexible packaging is used for fresh produce of fruits, vegetables and dairy products to increase their shelf life so as a result there is less food wastage. Secondly as the E commerce industry is booming, it requires shipment to be of lesser weight, a purpose which the flexible packaging fulfills in a better way. Thirdly, the level of consumer knowledge of Millennials is high helped by the technology, due to which they prefer brands who follow the trends. The bright graphics or transparent pouches show exactly what the product is about and convey the brand‘s message.
Pouches for soups, sauces, baby food, nuts and fruit juices have been around lately but some of the recent pouched products include pickles, tomato paste, beans and yogurt.
So the predicted trends of flexible packaging are pivoted towards
- Lesser food waste
- Ecommerce brands converting to flexible packaging to reduce freight costs
- Brands wanting to give clearer messages through packaging and embracing minimalism.