High-barrier flexible packaging is on the rise for the food service industry.
According to a study released by ReportsnReports in May 2016, the worldwide flexible packaging market is expected to reach $125.66 billion by 2021, growing at an estimated annual rate of 5.11 percent between 2016 and 2021. Additionally, retort pouches in particular are expected to grow at the highest rate during the forecast period due to growing demand from end-user industries.
Other studies are predicting similar rates of growth. What is driving this transition from #10 cans to flexible pouches? Here are eight reasons:
There have been significant breakthroughs in flexible packaging film technology. In the past, #10-equivalent high-barrier pouches had the tendency to crack at flex points or develop pin holes. These defects in the barrier protection would lead to spoilage, thus undermining the food processors’ confidence in flexible packaging. Today, the films are much more durable and reliable.
In the past, the only way to use a pouch for a product at the lower end of the acidic scale was to refrigerate or freeze after filling. The newer high-barrier flexible films can help food processors sell these products without refrigeration or freezing, which significantly reduces shipping and warehousing cost at both the food processor and restaurant levels.
Opening #10 cans can expose employees to a lid with sharp edges, which has been a big concern for food service operators. Now, flexible pouches can be produced with user-friendlier features like a tear notch, which is not only safer but also easier to use. A lower injury rate within the restaurant environment helps reduce costs.
Retort cook time is significantly decreased with flexible packaging because heat penetrates much more quickly in a pouch than in a #10 can. By reducing the time spent in the retort process, the food maintains its taste, texture, and most important, its nutritional value.
Fres-co created the high-barrier flexible #10 pouch to replace the #10 can. This sustainable alternative offers the same shelf life as the can, yet it saves up to 75 percent of the costs of material, provides up to 87 percent source reduction, and it uses up to 50 percent less materials. Also, when compared to rigid containers, our pouches cut landfill waste in half, reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 62 percent, and reduce BTU consumptions by 71 percent. Put simply, flexible packaging is a green solution for the packaging world.
Flexible packaging is not only supple, but it is highly customizable to a wide variety of needs. Flexible packages can adjust to the contours and consistency of a products in ways that are not possible in rigid containers.
Printing options on a flexible package far surpass those of a rigid container. With high-quality rotogravure printing, food producers can make a longer-lasting impact on the store shelves (the “billboard” effect), plus provide the consumer with important information on the product’s nutritional value, ingredients, directions on use, and more.
BPA, a chemical that often lines food packaging to keep it from corroding, is common in polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins. According to WebMD, some experts believe BPA acts like a hormone in the human body. Research has shown that BPA can migrate into the food and beverage products that are packaged in cans, raising a number of health risks. Flexible packaging is BPA free.
Professionals throughout the food industry, whether producers, distributors or restaurateurs, are turning to flexible packaging rapidly. In this brief overview, we can see how increasing health, safety and flavor while decreasing spoilage and the carbon footprint clearly make flexible packages viable alternatives to cans, glass and other rigid containers.
If you’d like to learn more about moving your product from rigid to flexible packaging, register for our webinar on November 15, 2017. We’ll be covering the ins and outs of the transition, as well as key considerations you’ll need to know before you make the move.
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