Undoubtedly, if you’re living on this earth, you’re using flexible packaging in your daily life. Many of us don’t think about the flexible bags or pouches we use each day because they’ve become such a routine part of our lives. Each time you go to the kitchen, pantry, refrigerator, cupboard, laundry room, or bathroom to get an item out for use, it’s likely you’re using flexible packaging products without even recognizing it.
Remember those animal cracker and Cracker Jack boxes we used to open as children? Yeah, those are almost a thing of the past now.
The packaging world has been gradually moving from rigid boxes and containers to flexible packaging pouches and bags made from multi-layered polyolefin extruded films.
What’s with the all the fancy technical terminology, you say? Well, more and more companies are making their packaging products out of plastic films. These films are made from polymers that are extruded on cast film or blown film extrusion machines that sometimes extrude several films all at once to a make a co-extruded or multi-layered film.
What’s driving all of this change in the packaging industry? Space, design, and cost!
It’s become more affordable to make these bags, pouches, and film structures. Consumers, manufactures, retailers, shipping and wholesalers are happier with these packaging products because they take up less space and are more appealing to the eye than many of the outdated corrugated box and folding cartons that have been pervasive in the past.
And now even more consumer brands are making the switch from rigid packaging to flexible packaging. According to a recent report by Knowledge Sourcing Intelligence, the North American flexible packaging market was worth $30 billion in 2015 and is expected to be valued at $33 billion by 2021.
If we look at the global flexible packaging market, the trends signify the same type of explosive growth. According to market research by Smithers in The Future of Packaging: Long-Term Strategic Forecast to 2028, between 2018 and 2028 the global packaging market is set to expand by almost 3% per annum, reaching over $1.2 trillion.
Those are some big numbers, but why?
Well, there are some major trends that show what is driving this growth behind flexible film-based packaging products:
- Global growth in economic markets in developing countries
- Consumers are buying more products online which make shipping flexible packaging easier
- Sustainability is driving trends towards eco-friendly, bio-degradable, compostable, lighter, portable and more convenient products
- It is easier to protect against counterfeit or fake products with flexible film-based packaging
- Emerging consumer markets such as cannabis, medical, personal care, and healthcare will drive demand towards easier-to-ship and concealable products
Along with trends in the markets, another driving force towards flexible products is the developing technology. For example, the largest growing segment of flexible packaging markets is the pouches segment. It’s slated to grow at least 20% more than other flexible packaging products over the next several years due to consumer food demand and new technological advances that make it easier to use these pouches.
Advancements in technology that enhance the convenience of these pouches such as resealable zipper closures, retort, stand up features, spouts, and tear notches make it easier for the consumer to use and to get to the products. On the pouch manufacturing side of technology, there are advancements in machinery with increased line speeds, lower production costs, and more in-line capabilities that are making pouches more competitive than other forms of rigid packaging, like folding cartons, corrugated boxes, and cans.
All of these trends, technology advancements and consumer demands are seriously pushing flexible packaging products into high-growth mode both now and in the future. Those bags, shrink sleeves, lidding films, and retort pouches are going to take the packaging business further than it’s ever been before.
So, zip, seal, tear, or stash away your pouches – we are in for a long and wild ride in the global consumer packaging markets.