4 Reasons You Should Go from Rigid to Flexible Packaging

August 5, 2014 | By Terry Baker

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About eight weeks ago, we told you how we helped a customer transition from rigid to flexible packaging, and the sustainable benefits they derived (e.g., reducing related transportation costs, reducing greenhouse gases, measured in CO2equivalents).

Of course, the environment is the top concern for many in our industry, as we want to be part of greener solutions. But there are many other benefits of going from rigid to flexible packaging. Here is a quick look at just a few.

1. Food Evacuation & Waste Reduction — As a society, we can reduce food waste significantly with flexible packaging. According to the Website of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, food waste currently comprises 14.5 percent of the country’s municipal solid waste (or landfills), exceeded only by paper-based products. We can evacuate food much better from flexible packaging simply because of the ability to squeeze the container completely flat. We have seen proof of this for decades and may not have thought about it quite that way: Has anyone ever truly dispensed toothpaste with anything better than a tube?

2. Added Convenience for Consumers of Many Ages — Both younger and older consumers favor flexible packaging, though for different reasons. In a recent Fres-co blog, Steven Hinesley pointed out how more than one generation of consumers accepts flexible pouches for their beverages as perfectly normal because of their portability and convenience. Now let’s go to the other end of the spectrum: Older consumers, who are growing in number, want and need the easy-opening features of flexible packaging. According to an international study titled Design Requirements and the Older Adult, openability of a package is critical for people between ages 60 and 90, many of whom needed help from another person. Flexible packaging provides this feature by removing the hard-to-twist lids of jars, the strong adhesives of old style cartons, and more.

3. Healthier Trends in Eating — As aseptic packaging improves, consumers are increasingly treated to foods that require fewer preservatives. This is a result of the improved barrier protection of flexible packaging, which helps keep aseptically prepared foods fresh for a longer time. These enhancements are due to how the multiple layers of this packaging combine to block moisture, oxygen and light, extending shelf life. Consumers are also able to see the foods they are buying through windows in the pouches, which is not possible with cans or boxes. This visual appeal adds to the perception of healthfulness.

4. Differentiation Focus Strategy — There are many benefits unique to marketers in the many industries that can use flexible package (e.g., food & beverage, coffee, chemicals of all sorts). The rotogravure and flexographic printing options available can produce a startling, appealing image to match your branding goals. Also, form follows function in flexible packaging; that is, the design of the package can be linked to the way the product is used, whether it is to eat a soft food easily without utensils, microwave a serving of vegetables, or apply a household product on the spot, such as a glass cleaner. And price is no longer a barrier, as the cost of flexible packaging is now comparable with other formats.

Barrier protection for freshness, attention-grabbing appeal, food display, convenience… the payback from flexible packaging in addition to sustainability is just too good to ignore. If you are not taking advantage of these benefits, you may not be serving the needs of your business or your end users. And if you are thinking that flexible packaging doesn’t apply to your basket of products, I ask that you reconsider, as it is continually being adapted for a wider variety of markets, such as healthcare, automotive, pharmaceutical and more. We’re finding that this packaging is very “flexible” in many uses of the word.

Terry Baker of Fres-co System USA, Inc. is an experienced packaging professional who is known and respected within the industry. Contact him at tbaker@fresco.com to learn more about Fres-co’s wide range of offerings in liquid food and beverage packaging and how they may be applied to your products.

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