Are you still packaging your products in heavy bottles and cans? Traditional packaging is so 2018. This year, join thousands of brands in saying “goodbye” to more rigid forms of packaging and “hello” to flexible packaging, like stand-up pouches, bar wraps, and cosmetic sachets.
Flexible packaging uses plastics, aluminum foils, paper, and thin films to create strong protective barriers for a multitude of products, including food, makeup and face masks, teas, and even cannabis. There are many advantages to using flexible packaging: it’s lightweight and easy to transport; it’s simpler to construct than more traditional forms of packaging like glass and metal which, in turn, reduces the amount of carbon emissions during production; and it provides an excellent canvas for marketing. Perhaps that’s why countries from all over the world are starting to increase the amount of flexible packaging they produce, with Asia-Pacific (47% of global consumption) and North America (19% of global consumption) leading the way, according to a report from Smithers Pira.
The report, titled “The Future of Flexible Packaging to 2022,” indicates that the growth in flexible packaging isn’t going to slow down anytime soon. In fact, the expert analysis projects a 4.3% annual growth rate, bringing the total value of flexible packaging from $219.5 billion in 2016 to an astonishing $282.6 billion by 2022.
The Flexible Packaging Association also projects a substantial increase in the United States, as 31% of the brands it surveyed stated they’d be switching entirely or mostly to flexible packaging over the next five years.
So, what’s driving the conversion to flexible packaging?
For starters, brands are noticing an increase in efficiency across the board. Nearly half of those surveyed reported that they saw reduced production costs. That’s because many flexible packaging companies can manufacture and print everything on site, minimizing the number of times brands have to ship their goods between specialized facilities. Additionally, flexible packaging is often much lighter than thicker cardboards, glasses, and metals, which increases production and shipping costs. (Bonus: Flexible packaging also increases the amount of product brands can ship at a time, lowering both carbon emissions and transportation costs. Score!)
Another reason brands and consumers are gravitating towards flexible packaging is that it’s all-around more convenient than other, more traditional forms of packaging. Let’s face it; you’re much less likely to grab a can of soup on your way out the door in the morning than you are to select something slim and easily transportable, like a granola bar or a resealable package of dried fruit and nuts.
The same goes for cosmetics. While many people will still invest in a jarred face mask, consumers are finding that single-use packaging is far more suitable for their everyday lives (and their budgets). Just as with food, flexible packaging helps maintain the freshness of cosmetics for more extended periods by warding off both air and moisture with its protective barriers. Consumers can rest assured that the products they’re ingesting and slathering on their bodies are safe and unharmed.
Flexible packaging also provides the perfect canvas for brands to give consumers useful, transparent information about their products. More than ever before, shoppers want to quickly access comprehensive ingredient labels and special certifications, like “cruelty-free” and “organic.” Brands can also list what they’re not using in products (popular examples include “corn syrup” or “parabens”) to give consumers peace of mind.
People are willing to pay for convenience and freshness, too.
According to the FPA, 79% of Americans reported they believe there are more benefits to storing food in flexible packaging than in other forms of packaging, with stand-up pouches being the most popular and fastest-growing type. Additionally, the average consumer said she was “willing to spend 10.3% more for food in flexible packaging,” with consumers ages 35-44 saying they’d spend 15.5% more and shoppers 18-34 saying they’d pay 17.2% more. Those numbers are nothing to scoff at, especially when you’re trying to push product off the shelves!
While it’s true that most flexible packaging is not recyclable yet (this is due to the layers of various materials that are currently difficult to separate at recycling facilities), it’s still more sustainable than more traditional vessels like cardboard boxes and glass jars. As we mentioned earlier, flexible packaging is lightweight and easy to pack and ship. Because you can get more product into a single shipment, you’re able to reduce the number of trucks on the road and, therefore, the amount of carbon emissions going into the atmosphere. Flexible packaging is often more straightforward to assemble (fewer materials needed, ability to construct in one location, less water required for assembly, and so on), as well, making the process more environmentally friendly from the beginning. Plus, many brands are now opting to use recycled materials in their flexible packaging so they can feel good about reducing the overall total amount of waste produced.
To summarize, brands found that flexible packaging is more efficient and cost-effective, more sustainable, and more likely to appeal to consumers in the long run. With so many benefits, it’s no wonder more companies are making the switch!
Interested in learning about all of the hype behind flexible packaging? Contact us via email or phone call, and we’ll happily walk you through Label Technology’s flexible packaging options to find what’s the best fit for your product and company.