Flexible Packaging and Its Closures
Bags and Pouches Boast Premium Closures Designed for Various Markets.
By: Elisabeth Cuneo, Editor
Flexible packaging is growing across various markets, including cannabis. We chat with Todd Meussling, Senior Manager, Market Development, Fresh-Lock® at Presto Products Company about new closures for the industry, the importance of resealability and what’s new with sliders.
Packaging Technology Today: It’s no secret that pouches and bags are growing for use in consumer products across a wide range of markets. What does this mean for determining the closures for these items?
Meussling: Without question we’ve seen substantial growth in flexible formats like pouches and bags in the marketplace across virtually every product category. Reclosability has played a critical role in that growth, with press-to-close and slider zippers providing the benchmark in reclosability. The good news for CPGs and converters is that zipper technology continues to evolve with features and performance attributes designed to meet specific package objectives. When paired properly, specialty closures convert efficiently, enhance the quality of premium packaging and improve the overall user experience. With the continued growth of flexible pouches throughout various industries, Presto Products has developed numerous closure solutions under the Fresh-Lock® brand tailored to specific product applications and markets.
For example, as the population continues to age, brands may find that their average product user tends to skew older. This target audience may have a difficult time pressing a zipper closed or gripping a slider. Because of the unique consumer requirements, an ergonomic slider that is easy to grasp and operate would be the ideal match. The growth of flexible packaging in the baking aisle is another instance where we’ve seen effective custom closure applications. Because these types of products are typically granular, we developed a slider that plows through the particles and clears the track, ensuring the package is sealed and preventing spillage.
One important takeaway from these examples is that all closures are not designed to perform the same. It’s not a “one-size-fits-all” selection process. A truly well-designed package utilizes the closure which best compliments access to the product inside by the intended user.
PTT: How important is resealability when talking about bags/pouches of food?
Meussling: Consumers are putting greater emphasis than ever on reducing food waste and believe that product packaging has an important role to play. According to Mintel’s Global Packaging Trends 2018 report, 50% of U.S. grocery shoppers believe that the right packaging can help reduce food waste. As packagers, we know that proper packaging can extend shelf life, ensure safe delivery and preserve ingredients – all helping to minimize food waste and improve consumer experience. An effective zipper works in concert with film and conversion aspects to contain the product and slow degradation after opening.
With the rise of big box stores, consumers prefer products that won’t spoil or go stale before they finish consuming it and are willing to pay more for premium closures. To meet consumer needs, brands should look to incorporate right-sized and multi-use product packaging that offers the added benefits of sliders or zippers to meet these consumer demands.
PTT: What are the main differences between zipper and slider closures?
Meussling: In our experience, we’ve found that consumers now expect reclosable technology that adds convenience and promotes product freshness. Both zippers and sliders fit the bill as they provide resealable solutions that create value-added packaging for users.
Brands that understand the importance of reclosability, but don’t need the differentiation factors that sliders offer utilize press-to-close zipper options. Zippers provide the benefits of extended freshness, convenience and added-value features such audible and tactile cues that help alert users when packaging is properly closed.
CPGs that want to provide consumers with an optimal package experience choose slider zippers for flexible pouches. Studies have found that consumers prefer sliders and are willing to pay for the added benefits of this premium closure option. In addition, sliders provide perceived value to consumers, which creates product differentiation on stores shelves. Sliders are often found on premium products, product extensions and new launches.
PTT: What’s new with slider closures?
Meussling: Right now, we’re in a time of great innovation and development in the slider market. One area we’ve seen tremendous growth and opportunity is with the emergence of small-format pouches. Previously, products like snack foods or cheese were limited to zipper closures due to the small opening of the pouch. Now, because of this gap in the market, Fresh-Lock® has developed a small-format slider that is far more compact and useable on small pouches and bags. With this development, we believe there are several opportunities in other markets such as loose-leaf teas to transition into flexible packaging. Applications in existing markets include specialty produce, pet treats, and confection.
PTT: What markets are using the Child-Guard® closures?
Meussling: Child-resistant closures, like Child-Guard®, protect kids from accessing products containing potentially harmful ingredients. When Presto Products first launched Child-Guard®, we saw an immediate response within the laundry detergent market, where flexible packaging had already taken hold. Consumers are now far more accustomed to seeing child-resistant closures on products like laundry packs, and are starting to demand this technology in other markets as well.
Flexible packaging continues to expand into new industries, such as lawn and garden and pool chemicals, because of its benefits to consumers like ease of storage. However, flexible packaging can also be easier for children to access than traditional, rigid packaging. The addition of Child-Guard® closures on these types of goods not only helps keep kids safe, it also creates product differentiation, attracting consumers who are willing to invest more for added peace of mind.
PTT: Is the cannabis market a strong customer (for child-resistant packaging)?
Meussling: As more and more states legalize recreational cannabis use, cannabis companies are placing more emphasis on utilizing certified child-resistant packaging to keep in step with state regulations as well as the potential for future federal requirements. Child-resistant sliders play a major role in preventing the accidental consumption of edible cannabis products that look like any other treat to kids. As a premium flexible packaging solution, it can also offer added benefits, such as odor control, preserved freshness and ease of transportation.
Mini comparison: Small-format sliders, such as the Fresh-Lock® mini Slide, offer new closure solutions for small-format pouches.
Child guard: Child-Guard® sliders offer consumers added peace of mind as it helps keep kids out of potentially harmful products.
Presto® Products Company (prestoproducts.com) is a market leader in the private label and flexible packaging industries. In 1979, Presto became the first private label company to introduce reclosable sandwich and food storage bags, later launching the Fresh-Lock® zipper product line. In 2010, Presto® Products’ parent company, Reynolds® Group Holdings Limited, acquired Pactiv Corporation and the Slide-Rite® brand of tracks & sliders. Presto® Products Company is a division of Reynolds® Consumer Products, the owner of two of the most trusted household brands today, Reynolds® and Hefty®.