I am an ardent supporter of flexible packaging and the colorful, custom roll stock that goes into it. We know that almost anything that comes in a rigid package can go into a flexible one, and we have learned that lesson from a surprising source.
Lessons from Japan
There are quite a few advantages to flexible packaging and the roll stock that comprises it when compared to rigid, traditional packaging. We have learned more about these benefits in the U.S. from the Japanese. Japan is a nation of few natural resources, and therefore they had to make do with what was available for much of their history.
The makers of Japanese consumer goods utilize a variety of flexible pouches for packaged foods. Stand-up pouches are lighter, use much less raw material, take up much less space, and they are easier to dispose of than rigid packages. Also, the Japanese have smaller refrigerators than Americans do, and fewer of them. So they rely on more shelf-stable food, which is protected better in pouches. They also prefer retort sterilization with pouches, as the thinner materials allows shorter cooking time to keep more of the natural color, flavor and texture of food.
It’s not just food driving the Japanese demand for sustainable packaging in printed roll stock. Plastic pouches are being used more often in that country for refill packs in beauty and personal care. In fact, more and more so-called “premium” brands are providing refill packs, giving up the “snob appeal” of fancier rigid packaging. In this way, their companies can be perceived as environmentally friendly. In addition to food and personal care, laundry detergents are becoming more concentrated, so they’re packaged in smaller sizes, too.
The Japanese rely on more shelf-stable food, which is protected better in pouches.
Another big factor that is driving the adoption of flexible packaging in other countries across the Pacific Rim is cost. Pouches are less expensive to produce than cans, especially in countries like these, which must import metal and other durable materials. The growing sales of packaging equipment in the Japanese food industry show how pouches are becoming more popular, while cans are on their way out. Pouch forming and filling machines showed the highest demand among all types of packaging machinery in Japan last year, outpacing canning equipment more than 35 times! (The Japanese spent the equivalent of 509 million U.S. dollars of pouch-making equipment compared to 14.3 million U.S. dollars for canning equipment.)
Applying More Flexible Packaging in the U.S.
Now let’s consider some of the ways we can apply custom-designed roll stock to flexible packaging here in the U.S.
Opportunities and Possibilities
Roll stock as part of a complete flexible packaging system (also including machines and service) can meet the most demanding strength and barrier protection requirements for a wide variety of goods, whether dry foods, wet foods and industrial & agricultural products. Furthermore, high-definition custom print options help promote brand image. There are so many needs that can be fulfilled by these wonderful materials if we choose to learn from others and think outside the box (no pun intended).
Topics: Flexible Packaging
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