How flexible packaging can help products differentiate
Flexible packaging companies say they can help retailers and manufacturers of private branded consumer packaged goods with the key elements of which they are looking to improve their products, including making them more distinct and sustainable.
Let’s start with distinct, which is the gateway to differentiation.
“Many retail brands are offering premium quality private label products that need to stand apart,” says Nathan Klettlinger, the market manager of food for Cincinnati-based ProAmpac. “Whether it be shape, size, color, texture material or finish — flexible packaging offers a multitude of options for standout packaging.”
Differentiation through convenience can also be achieved, says Rebecca Casey, vice president of marketing and consumer market development for Chicago-based TC Transcontinental Packaging. Casey says retailers and manufacturers can use flexible packaging to meet their consumers’ needs and lifestyles with convenience features such as easy to open, resealability, portability and one-handed use.
Dave Johnson, director of global business development/flexibles for Crystal Lake, Ill.-based Aptar, notes that the surface area on a flexible package can create a billboard effect, which catches consumers’ attention and makes the product stand out on the shelf.
“Essentially, the package isn’t only more visually appealing, but it also delights consumers with superior functionality and overall packaging experience,” Johnson adds.
With its high-end flexographic printing possibilities, flexible packaging is an excellent tool for communicating a brand message, Casey notes.
“It not only meets the needs of retailers to attract consumers with great design and graphics, but also to educate consumers on the product,” she adds.
At Elkay Plastics Co. Inc. dba LK Packaging based in Commerce, Calif., Director of Strategic Marketing Glen Adamik says the company spends a lot of time on achieving variety and availability to help its customers of private brands to differentiate.
“Variety helps brands apply their products to best-fit packaging, which could be meaningless without just-in-time availability, which is why the strong relationships we’ve established with local distributors is so important,” he adds.
Weijia Zhang, business development manager for Brampton, Ontario-based Peel Plastic Products Limited, says demand for flexible packaging is increasing and has been adopted across more product categories than ever.
“As more retailers enhance their private brand offerings to match or beat national brands, flexible packaging has been seen as an easy way to commercialize,” he says. “Coupled with the fact that it is lightweight and operationally efficient, it presents a win-win for retailers and manufacturers alike, who are dealing with significantly more SKUs than ever.”
Sustainability is a major component of flexible packaging and a big reason that more retailers and manufacturers are interested in using it. Flexible packaging companies say that it requires less packaging material, less energy to manufacture and less fuel to transport than other materials.
“Consumers are very aware of the growing global concern regarding the environment and the impact that packaging has on our planet, and they want to be part of the solution for a better environment,” Casey adds. “As a flexible packaging manufacturer, we offer products that have less of an environmental impact throughout their entire life cycle than other existing packaging options.”
TC Transcontinental Packaging uses a circular approach in every step of its product design to be more sustainable, Casey says.
“To ensure long-term change, we believe that all the players from across the supply chain should be involved and accountable to create the perfect sustainable packaging,” Casey adds. “We believe we need to work as a team with the CPG companies to reach this objective together.”
Klettlinger says ProAmpac recently introduced the ProActive Sustainability platform, which encompasses the various ways the company reduces its environmental impact at its sites and increases the sustainability of its flexible packaging portfolio.
“We have packaging products that are recyclable, compostable, contain post-consumer content and contain renewable bio-based resins,” he says. “Depending on the customer’s strategy, we have a variety of options to help retailers and manufacturers meet their sustainability goals.”
Zhang says Peel Plastic Products Limited has been actively working on sustainability solutions.
“We have helped a number of brands to launch with sugarcane based bio-plastics as a carbon footprint reduction,” he adds. “We are commercializing post-consumer recycled material in flexible packaging. And we have just also launched a full suite of recycle-ready box, quad and stand-up pouches for brand owners focused on recyclability. Most importantly, and a common theme across all three solutions, is that we want to make sure our packaging still provides equal on-shelf presence, the same at-home convenience, and uncompromising product protection and shelf life.”
For all the flexible packaging companies, sustainability is an ongoing goal. In March, TC Transcontinental Packaging joined the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s New Plastics Economy Global Commitment. By doing so, the company has committed that 100% of its plastic packaging will be reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025, and it will achieve a 10% use of post-consumer recycled content on average by weight across all plastics in the company’s product offering.
TC Transcontinental Packaging recently launched a sustainable line of packaging for private branded CPG products called vieVERTE, which means “green life” in French and is a tribute to the company’s Quebec roots. The products in the line are engineered to provide an end-of-life solution for flexible packaging, Casey says.
“vieVERTe sustainable products provide all the benefits of flexible packaging including barrier, strength, performance, shelf stability and graphic appeal, while supporting a responsible end-of-life solution,” she adds.
One of ProAmpac’s latest developments is the ProActive Recyclable R-1000 standard and high-barrier film for form/fill/seal applications.
“A fully recyclable film pre-qualified with the How2Recycle program for in-store drop off, R-1000 is engineered to run at higher speeds on form/fill/seal machines compared to traditional PE films,” Klettlinger says.
ProAmpac’s ProActive Sustainability, a registered trademark, is a dedicated initiative to deliver greener materials and packaging solutions to the market place, Klettlinger notes. There are four main product development areas — recyclable, post-consumer recycled content, renewable and compostable. Recently, ProAmpac has had commercial success delivering a high-barrier pouch that contains 25% post-consumer recycled material, Klettlinger says.
Aptar’s STANDCAP pouch technology, which provides a controlled and hygienic dispensing experience, provides 99% product evacuation and minimizes product waste. The STANDCAP pouch takes less material to produce and reduces fossil fuel consumption by 65%, greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 78%, and water usage by 81% when compared to glass containers, Johnson says.
LK Packaging recently introduced a coated-paper-based line of fully compostable and marine-safe packaging called Composta, which comes in both flexible pouches and films for on-the-shelf display, as well as rigid food containers for grab-n-go items.
“We’ve approached greater sustainable packaging with a no-half measures mindset in that we’ve gone beyond recyclability to packaging that is responsibly sourced from renewable materials, uses natural inks and is fully compostable,” Adamik says.