The Future is Bright for the Global Pouches Market
How to incorporate the right technology and machinery to answer growing customer demand
By Jennifer Fowler, Marketing Manager, Pearl Technologies Inc.
Few packaging innovations have taken the world by storm like pouches have.
Go to any zoo or park, and you’ll see plenty of children enjoying their pouch snack. And it’s not just food — the beverage industry has especially embraced pouches. For instance, the wine industry, which is historically extremely picky about its packaging, is launching high quality wine in pouches. There’s also plenty of pouch uses in medical products, automotive oils and more. Pouch packaging offers a diverse range of styles — both practical and artistic — for various applications and industries. Some of the most popular include stand-up, spouted and zipper pouches.
It’s safe to say that pouches are here to stay and will continue to grow in popularity due to the value they provide. In fact, the pouches market size is expected to grow by $12.92 billion from 2021 to 2026. In addition, this growth of the market will accelerate at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5.37% during the forecast period, according to Technavio, a global technology research and advisory company.
Sustainable and flexible packaging
The surge in popularity of pouches, and the reason many manufacturing companies opt to offer this type of packaging, can be attributed to the desire for more efficient transport. Think about it. Would you rather carry a glass bottle everywhere or a lightweight pouch? Pouches typically weigh about 80% less than other types of packaging. This characteristic not only contributes to reduced transportation costs when it comes to shipping product, but it also aligns with cost-effectiveness due to the utilization of fewer materials.
Furthermore, pouches offer an additional advantage. They not only use a reduced amount of material for production, but also excel at optimizing space utilization. This is evident in stand-up pouches, where the actual contents make up nearly 90% of the total product volume. You’re getting more bang for your buck, and you’re using a more sustainable, greener packaging material since pouches allow for more product to be transported in just one load, which can significantly reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
According to Technavio, the need to extend the shelf life of food items and lower their waste has resulted in the emergence of resealable flexible plastic packaging. The ability to re-seal or close something when it’s not quite depleted keeps pouches competitive against plastic bottles and jars. With a growing need to keep things fresh, it’s safe to say that pouches will continue to grow and adapt to our ever-changing needs and wants.
However, making the switch to pouches is not simply a drop-in solution. Due to these evolving packaging designs and consumer demands for more sustainable solutions, challenges will arise and manufacturers must adapt to the new market requirements.
Knowledge of materials
It’s important to understand which materials will make the most sense for your application. Keep in mind, the actual structure of pouches is complex, as most consist of multiple layers of material bonded together.
Typically, laminated pouches are made from plastic films like polyethylene (PE), polyethylene terephthalate (PET), polypropylene (PP), vinyl, paper, and/or metal foils. It all depends on what’s going inside the pouch! While the majority of pouches are heat sealed, there are some types that are bonded with adhesives, as well.
Sustainability goals are driving customers to consider mono-materials (often PE) or coated papers as well. Material companies are also offering options that allow manufacturers to use recycled materials for pouches as well as work on the recyclability of pouches as whole.
Understanding why the different types of materials are used, as well as looking into reclaimed materials are some essential aspects of the design process. And it’s important for pouch manufacturers to partner with converters that understand that different materials require different type of tooth profiles to properly cut the film for features sure as hanger holes, handle holes, tear notches or gussets.
Choosing the right technology
Pouches are a popular choice, but they are also quite challenging to make. Low-quality flexible packages are prone to leakage and spoilage, and may be more susceptible to damage during transport. Not to mention, low-quality tear holes frustrate customers when they can’t open their packaging properly.
There are so many options when it comes to producing pouches. For instance, a stand-up pouch can include round corners, tear notch, hang hole, resealable zipper, window, bottom gusset and a custom label. As you can see, it’s quite complex!
Pouch lines frequently have an intermittent section but some are also continuous motion. Standard equipment produces between 100 – 120 pouches per minute. Superior cutting technologies include toothed, die cut and pressure cut options. Partnering with a knowledge leader in cutting technologies is crucial as they’ll know which type of knife or punch is needed to properly convert your pouch.
The industry norm is a perfect “clean” cut, which means that holes are die cut. These zero tolerance holes are ideal for medical and pharmaceutical manufactures, as well as any cosmetic or consumer good products that want to boast quality and novelty. But toothed punches are fantastic for handle holes or when hole-perfection isn’t required. Setup costs are less and usually there’s less maintenance involved too.
It’s imperative to use the right kind of converting equipment where you can create pouches with strong seals, ensure properly-cut edges, and add desirable features such as tear notches and hanger holes.
Pouches have grown at two times the rate of the bag making market for decades and this is expected to continue. Look for products that can adapt to changing market demands, and that keep sustainability and versatility in mind. Choosing the right technology and an experienced manufacturing partner allow pouch makers to optimize cost and cut quality.
About the Author
Jennifer Fowler has over a decade of experience in the packaging industry, and graduated from the Rochester Institute of Technologies with a double major in Packaging Science and Advertising & Public Relations. Today, Jennifer manages marketing for EDGE Industrial Technologies, the parent company of Pearl Technologies, TGW International, and Leverwood Knife Works. Learn more at www.pearltechinc.com.