Processing Magazine

Flexible packaging gains popularity among food and beverage makers

January 29, 2013

Flexible packaging has become a favorite of food processing businesses not just in the United States but also internationally. Its convenience and light weight are the main reasons why both huge national brands and smaller private companies are opting for flexible packaging for all types of food products, ranging from ready-to-drink cocktails to fruit chips.

One of the brands that has embraced flexible packaging is California-based manufacturer Sunsweet Growers Inc., which included the shift to pouches as part of a bigger visual redesign. The company stopped using paper labels and introduced a full-body shrink label for its juice bottles. At the same time, it changed its graphics on the full range of packaging to ensure the brand has a modern look, Food Processing says.

The new packaging aims to reflect the contemporary and healthy products that the company offers to health-conscious and demanding consumers, commented Ian McLean, founder and creative director at McLean Design Inc., the company that designed the new graphics. The pouches are resealable and have excellent barrier properties, which ensure protection against product spoilage.

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Because of its high quality, flexible packaging is becoming top choice for many businesses, not just Sunsweet. In fact, packaging is gradually turning into a key brand differentiator. One example is Bolthouse Farms, which created a unique pouch for its product Baby Carrot ShakeDowns -- fresh carrots with seasoning added. The bag is divided into two sections, with the carrots placed in the big compartment and the seasoning in the smaller one. When consumers want to use the product, they need to pinch the bag and pull the sides of the package to break the inner barrier that separates the two sections and shake the bag to spread the seasoning evenly. By keeping the two ingredients apart, the qualities of the two products are kept in optimal condition, the company says.

Pouches are becoming increasingly popular for liquid content, too. British supermarket giant Tesco is offering its Tesco Finest heat-and-serve soups, which were previously sold in cans, in stand-up pouches. Tesco also achieved a technical breakthrough with its pouch, because it is printed with an innovative high-definition flexography. It not only provides high quality of graphic but is also cost-effective as the number of different items in the product line grows. The new packaging allows consumers to see exactly what they are buying, through a clear bottom gusset.

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Ready-to-drink cocktail manufacturers have also started to use pouches and they are becoming an increasingly common sight on shelves across the U.S. According to Lisa Coker, chief marketing officer at American Beverage Corp., the uptake of pouches has been very fast over the past couple of years. The company was the first to offer frozen pouch cocktails with its Daily's Cocktails brand in 2005. Recently, it has added two limited products alongside its seven standard flavors. These are Daily's Spiced Sangria and Daily's Hard Cider, which may be served frozen, chilled or warm.