Flexible packaging trends for 2016

  • By Neil Cook
  • February 24, 2016
  • Industry
  • Cleaning Products
  • Beverage
  • Food

How big is the flexible packaging industry?

Big and getting bigger. According to research from Smithers Pira, the global market for flexible packaging is forecast to grow at an annual average rate of 3.4% over the next five years to reach a value of $248 billion (£172 billion) by 2020, by which time some 1.64 trillion packaged units will be supplied in flexible packaging annually. INSERT LINK FOR RESEARCH 

Why flexible packaging?

It’s resource-efficient and environmentally friendly.

Proving yourself to be eco-friendly as a business is no longer just a case of hitting your CSR targets. It’s business-critical. Consumers are more environmentally-aware than ever before. They want environmentally-friendly packaging - and it influences their buying decisions.

Flexible packaging is incredibly resource-efficient. Better product-to-pack ratios minimise material use - meaning less packaging material (by weight) is needed to provide optimal protection for a given amount of product. Flexible packaging is also efficient to transport and store, both pre and post-packing.

The numbers reveal the full extent of the environmental benefits. Flexible Packaging Europe calculated that if all non-flexible packaging was replaced by flexible packaging it would prevent 26.5 million tonnes of packaging from entering the waste stream. This would represent a 77% reduction in the total weight of packaging that is currently sent to recycling or landfill. INSERT LINK FOR CALCULATED

It’s great for consumers.

What’s good for Mother Nature is good for consumers too. Flexible packaging is easy to open and offers barrier protection to keep perishable products fresher for longer. In turn that allows consumers to buy larger, more cost-effective and convenient product sizes.

Innovation in packaging design.

Flexible packaging allows brands to get creative with packaging design. Products can be packaged in a wide variety of eye-catching shapes, sizes and appearances. Packaging can include user-friendly features like re-sealable tabs, handles, zips, spouts and dispensers. That allows brands to innovate. To solve problems for the end-consumer. To use packaging as a brand differentiator.

What products can flexible packaging be used with?

Out with the old, in with the new. Flexible packaging can be used for a huge selection of FMCG products. But the areas where it has made the biggest in-roads are in the food, beverage and pharmaceutical sectors - where freshness of product is key. (57% of food packaging is classed as flexible packaging. The market represents £150 million at a coding and marking level.)

Pouches have seen particularly large growth. Each year since 2010, the number of new food and drink products tracked in Europe (by Innova Market Insights) packed in a standalone pouch has grown. But nowhere is the standalone pouch more popular than the pet food sector, where it is now the number one packaging type among new pet food product launches - replacing traditional food cans, which have dropped in use by 14% from 2010 to 2014.

The standalone pouch has also become a popular choice for manufacturers of baby food. In 2010 just 5.2% of new baby food products came in flexible packaging. By 2014 that figure had jumped to 15.8%. The flexibility of the packaging allows brands to tackle challenging childcare problems, with devices that allow young children to feed themselves without any risk to health. Perfect for busy parents.

What does the future hold?

Worldwide growth is expected in the flexible packaging market - especially across Asia. If you would like to know more about how easy it can be to print and code onto flexible packaging - please send us your questions.

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