Spectacular success of stand-up pouches

THE stand-up pouch has been around for many years but growth has recently been spectacular. This increasingly popular pack format can now be found across a broad range of food and non-food applications, making life convenient for consumers and helping to reduce packaging waste.

When launching a new product or revamping an existing line, consumer goods companies choose pouches for a number of reasons. From a marketing standpoint, stand-up pouches provides an excellent billboard for branding, either using printed substrates or self-adhesive labels on plain film.

Sustainability is another role player – based on weight, packaging as a percentage of the product is a mere 6% for a pouch. This low packaging-to-produce-weight ratio translates into a low carbon footprint.

A recent PCI report (2011) on the European market for stand-up pouches identifies annual demand of around 18,6 billion units, valued at around €575-million. It’s one of the most dynamic sectors within the European flexible packaging market showing, annual growth of almost 14% in recent years, with demand expected to grow by 9,1% over the next five years.

In Europe, retortable pet food pouches account for 20% of the laminate volume used but volumes in human retorted food pouches are the fastest growing. At the fillers, stand-up pouch usage is split evenly between pre-made pouches and laminate material used on form-fill-seal packing machinery. In South Africa no specific stats are available for stand-up pouch sales (neither volumes nor values).

However, most mainstream flexible packaging converters are involved in either laminate production or the supply of pre-made pouches; and we’re seeing a growing number of specialist producers of stand-up pouches (primarily based in Cape Town!). Playing a key role here are Saflite (Astrapak) and Nampak Flexible – between them holding the lion’s share of the market, but with other Cape-based players – for instance, Pouch Dynamics, Foster Packaging, CTP flexibles, Prac-Pak and Kangopak – snapping at their heels. In Johannesburg,9 Trempak and CLP offer stand-up pouches, and in Durban the principal supplier is Packaging World.

Pouch DynamicsIt’s all about spouts

The stand-up pouch continues to gain market share thanks to breakthroughs in material compositions, printing techniques and the growing use of fitments to enhance consumer convenience, such as zippers, built-in straws and – increasingly – spouts.

Adding to the growing popularity of stand-up pouches are cost reduction issues through savings on packaging materials and improved transportation logistics compared to traditional rigid packaging forms.

Growth in stand-up pouches continues to run into double digits – bucking general economic trends – largely thanks to these features. However, aside from cost savings, this innovative packaging format provides fresh marketing strategies for new product launches and clever ways to reinvent mature brands.

There’s no doubt that Cape Town-based Pouch Dynamics counts among frontrunners in the stand-up pouch market. Last year’s investment in a multi-format pouchmaker boosted output to above the seven-million pouches/ month mark.

Constantly studying market trends, Heinz Pospech (above), the company’s founder, noted the ever-growing popularity of pouches with spouts, particularly where they’re used as refill packs. Such pouches, Heinz emphasises, are generally double the size of the original pack to be refilled and increasingly used for detergents, toiletries, shampoos, liquid hand soaps, and similar products.

Local spout production

For this reason, Heinz has worked closely with an injection moulding business in Cape Town that’s now manufacturing an LDPE spout with a tamper-evident screw closure exclusively for Pouch Dynamics. As these locally-produced spouts are particularly cost effective compared to their imported counterparts, Heinz and his team have gained a decided competitive edge. As mould costs are heavy, only one size is currently available from this local supplier, with other sizes continuing to be imported. However, this situation could obviously change given increased demand.

This is part of a feature that appeared in Issue 6, 2012, of PACKAGiNG & Print Media magazine, see: www. packagingmag.co.za

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