Stretching it Out

Flexible packaging is best known for its design properties that are tailored to fit any product being packaged, solving the one-size-fits-all approach taken previously. This type of packaging allows for a variety of innovative shapes, sizes and appearances.

With such innovation it is not a surprise that flexible packaging is on the rise. In fact, the market is projected to grow at an annual rate of 4.3 percent and reach a total value of $283 billion in 2022, according to a Smithers Pira report. Indeed, this opens the door in the flexible packaging sector for the growing potential for technology suppliers, packaging converters as well as brand owners.

In the report, Smithers Pira drew on its most recent market data to identify the four key trends which are driving the market for flexible packaging.  At a glance, these trends include:

  1. Downgauging – Flexible packaging uses less resources and energy than other forms of packaging. It provides significant reductions in packaging costs, materials used and transport costs as well as certain performance advantages over rigid packaging. Use of flexible packaging can minimize package transport costs between the converter, packer/filler, retailer and end user.
  2. High-performance films – The trend in food packaging films is reportedly towards high-performance film structures that are less permeable to increase shelf life and enhance flavors. Growth is occurring from the transition of items packaged in rigid containers to high quality flexible packages.
  3. Consumer convenience – As more and more consumers lead increasingly busy and hectic lifestyles, the reports shows that they are preferring to opt for convenient mealtime solutions. This puts ready meals in new flexible packaging formats in a prime position to take advantage of the current social and economic trends.
  4. Bio-derived and bio-degradable technologies – In the past few years, a number of new product launches involving bio-based plastic packaging have taken place. The rise of bio-based plastic films continues with polylactic acid (PLA), polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA) and poly-trimethylene terephthalate (PTMT) showing the most promise on the truly materials side of the equation, and thermoplastic starch (TPS) films on the petroleum replacement side, according to Smithers Pira.

With the market showing so much promise, Packaging Technology Today plans to provide more industry insights geared toward this topic. In the cover story of the June issue you will learn about the “Six F’s” used to stress the critical steps that should be followed for a successful package launch.  Upcoming issues will also include a new column designed to highlight individual examples of unique applications of the “Six F’s,” and how different end users have fully embraced the true flexibility of flexible packaging in upcoming issues.