The Open and Shut Case for Food Packaging

The wide variety of packaging styles show just how popular vertical form fill seal machinery has become with food manufacturers. Image courtesy of Matrix.

Flexible Vertical Form Fill Seal Equipment Handles a Wide Range of Resealable Pouches

By Christine Duncan, Marketing Director, Flexibles & Trays at Matrix, a ProMach Brand

Areas of food packaging that sometimes gets overlooked are the way they are opened, and closed. Successfully integrating closing methods into packaging requires machinery such as vertical form fill seal equipment, and it’s important for machinery to have the flexibility to handle a wide range of options for closures and films, including compostable and recyclable materials.

When choosing equipment, it is important to consider packaging styles, closure methods and the way traditional and environmentally-friendly films interact with vertical form fill seal machinery.

Why is collaboration between film manufacturers and OEMs important?

The key to creating effective packaging closures is collaboration between film manufacturers and the original equipment manufacturer (OEM). There are several different styles of closures for resealable pouches, and a collaborative approach ensures the machinery and the solutions that original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) offer will work seamlessly with a variety of films and packaging closures.

What types of closures are popular for flexible pouches?

Slider, zip-lock or Velcro designs are the most popular styles for resealable pouches. For these designs, the consumer rips the top portion of the bag and discards it, opens the seal to access product, and is then able to open and close the package as needed. Some vertical form fill seal machines are designed to work with numerous packaging closures.

The popularity of stick pack packaging has grown exponentially through the years. This handy single-serve, on-the-go packaging shows no signs of slowing down. Image courtesy of Matrix.

Which packaging formats are trending?

Presentation is everything for food brands, and effective packaging gets eyes on your products. Stand-up pouches have become a go-to-choice for many food manufacturers due to their attractive presentation. When paired with colorful, eye-catching package designs, stand-up pouches stand out when displayed on store shelves, and can provide an unobstructed view of the product.

Other popular flexible pouch formats for food brands include stick packs, small pillow packs, flat sachets, quad, gusset, flat bottom, and other pouch formats for dry or frozen products. These pouches, designed with an airtight closure, have a one-time use, meaning once they are opened and the product removed, the package is discarded.

How did Covid affect food packaging preferences?

During the pandemic, there was a noticeable uptick in sales of snack food packaged in larger, resealable bulk-sized stand-up pouches. This trend began as a solution for people who were limiting trips to the grocery store.

Following the pandemic, people are more concerned about safely sharing food. Some food manufactures are increasing production of individual portion size packaging and are using more bag-in-bag applications. We’re seeing more bag-in-bag applications to package these smaller Packaging these smaller bags, food manufacturers are employing bag-in-bag applications. This can be accomplished with dual form fill seal machines. A forming tube up top makes the individual-size bags, and then they drop into a larger, master bag. These bag-in-bag snack food products are typically sold in warehouse club stores and larger grocery stories. Additionally, some manufacturers pack product into smaller bags, then use a horizontal form fill seal machine to package them into larger boxes made of thinner, recycled cardboard. This is common with snack food variety packs and other related products found in club stores.

How is the wellness mega trend affecting food packaging?

A trend that has remained strong over the past several years is the push toward healthier choices, of which many snack options being packaged in personalized, on-the-go single-serving packets. Vertical form fill seal machines are a perfect solution for filling these types of packets because they offer reliable, repeatable flexible packaging for a variety of solid and liquid food products. Of course, whether the size of the package is large or small, ensuring that snack and bakery products remain fresh and safe to eat over the course of their expected shelf life falls on the integrity of the package’s seal.

Vertical form fill seal packaging machinery can produce bags large and small to best fit specific food packaging applications. Image courtesy of Matrix.

Are sustainable films becoming more popular as a viable food packaging option?

Many consumers care about the environmental impact of packaging, and choose brands that enable them to be good stewards of the environment. According to The Food Institute, the use of non-recyclable plastic snack packaging is on the decline, and more global food brands are focusing their efforts on causes that support the social, economic, and environmental pillars of sustainability.

To help food manufactures achieve this goal, some packaging OEMS work closely with customers to provide packaging systems that accomplish their sustainability goals, such as using compostable and recycled films. Furthermore, some brands have also replaced rigid containers with flexible pouches as that material is typically more environmentally friendly.

Some vertical form fill seal machines can run compostable and recycled films efficiently, and have programming technology that aids in reducing waste and excess bags by up to 50% during changeovers These features, along with many others, help customers achieve sustainability goals that resonate with their target audiences.

About the Author

Christine Duncan is the marketing director for flexibles and trays at Matrix, a ProMach brand. Learn more at www.matrixpm.com.

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