The market for flexible packaging is foreseen to grow considerably over the next couple of years. It is indeed expected to reach $248 billion (€217 billion) by 2020.
This packaging sector offers solutions in a variety of different areas, from food and beverages to pharmaceuticals and other products that need extended shelf life. It is the most economical method to pack your products since the packaging is developed after the product it holds, rather than according to the one-size-fits-all theory.
It can be changed in size, form and color, and don’t forget the option to change details like handles and closing as you wish. One could say that the possibilities with flexible packaging are endless.
Smithers Pira, the worldwide authority on the Packaging, Print and Paper supply chains, gives us the 4 key trends for flexible packaging, based on the most recent statistics, and explains us what will drive these types of packaging forward for the years to come.
1. Down Gauging
Flexible packaging, as we already mentioned, is developed after what it holds, which makes it save more resources and energy compared to other types of packaging. For example, it uses less space when transported, since it can be created on the spot, and doesn’t hold a lot of air like rigid packaging. That means you can minimize transportation and also reduce costs.
One of the key trends that Smithers Pira mentions is the continued Down Gauging for flexible plastic packaging, as the combination of high prices for polymer and environmental impact make the customers demand for an even thinner plastic film.
This down gauging of plastic films will continue even though many of the traditional films have reached the limit for this trend. The flexible packaging industry will start to promote more of the ‘pre-cycling’ benefits of these types of packaging compared to the rigid ones, since the combination of environmental impact and uncertain polymer prices continues.
2. High-Performance Films
Another important part for the consumers is high-performance films, which also belong to the thinner films category. The most important aspect about this film is that it should be as durable as possible to keep the quality of the product it is holding, and also extend its shelf life.
These types of flexible packaging have increased in popularity especially within the food industry, particularly for the products who are being sold in Modified Atmosphere Packaging, also called MAP. These products mainly include bread and baked goods, such as cakes and pancakes. Two other growing trends are: prolonged shelf life for the products, and a shift in foodservice sandwich bread from frozen to MAP-packaged bread.
3. Consumer Convenience
Nowadays, we all live very hectic and busy lives, and everything needs to be more and more convenient. Let’s take food, for instance. If you don´t have a passion for cooking you will probably not cook dinner from scratch. That’s why the ready meals in flexible packaging formats are becoming more and more popular. An increasing number of people are demanding their food to be pre-cooked or pre-sliced, which only increases the need for MAP packaging. These demands for more convenient solutions also include the dominant supermarkets where packed foods provide longer shelf life. All in all, it comes down to flexible packaging that makes life easier for the consumers.
4. Bio-derived and Biodegradable Technologies
Environmental impact is a subject that keeps on growing in popularity every year. In the last couple of years a few new products involving bio-based plastic have been released. For example, polylactic acid (PLA), polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA) and poly-trimethylene terephthalate (PTMT).
The company Brazils Braschem Green PE is one of many who has taken on this new trend and started to use sugar cane raw materials in their products. The large US-based bakery Bimbo Bakeries USA is now using these new products and, despite the fact that the bag they use is only 36% bio-based, it´s still a huge change to celebrate.
Another company, Emerald Packaging, a US–based flexible packaging converter, recently launched their new potato bag partly made out of potato starch. Can you believe it? And Dai Nippon Printing, from Japan, launched their vacuum-deposit barrier films based on their own line of PET biomass films. The films are made out of raw sugar cane, among other things, and thought to reduce the carbon footprint by 10%. Isn´t that amazing?!
In other words, we can safely say that more and more companies are now following this trend and developing new solutions for flexible packaging.
If you want to know more about the packaging solutions we provide, please check our website http://www.swedbrand.com/packaging/ and don’t hesitate to contact us!