Consumer convenience above all: Trends we saw at Pack Expo
A required annual pilgrimage for anyone who's anyone in packaging, Pack Expo is the largest packaging and processing exposition on the continent. Now that this year's show in Las Vegas is behind us, we wanted to share with you some insights into top trends we saw in packaging and equipment.
All of these trends have one thing in common: they are largely consumer-driven. Changes in packaging equipment, package design, and materials are being shaped from the bottom up by the consumer, and often by their desire for convenience above all.
A multi-channel distribution model is great for consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies as it gives them more opportunities to engage with a wider breadth of consumers. Offering products via multiple channels means better access for the consumer, making it easy and convenient to keep purchasing the products they love no matter where they shop, whether it be online or in-store.
However, challenges arise for CPG companies when each channel requires different packaging. A wholesale warehouse, for instance, will require larger case packs, necessitating both primary and secondary packaging that is shelf-ready. On the flipside, a convenience store will require smaller, snack-sized packages for individual sale. Packaging for e-commerce may necessitate heavier films and increased protective properties.
Since CPGs can’t standardize on the increasing number of SKUs, their production operations require more flexibility, shorter runs, greater use of co-manufacturers, finding the right talent, and multi-functional equipment capable of quick and efficient changeovers.
No longer able to completely standardize packaging, CPG companies are turning to packaging equipment that is versatile, modular, and offers tool-free changeover. Packaging Strategies agrees, “since CPGs can’t standardize on the increasing number of SKUs, their production operations require more flexibility, shorter runs, greater use of co-manufacturers, finding the right talent, and multi-functional equipment capable of quick and efficient changeovers.”
STANDCAP pouches make a splash
Liquid products are a challenge by their very nature. Often packaged in rigid jars, cans, or plastic lidded containers, consumers can face messes and spills despite best-laid plans for package design. If a manufacturer desires to switch to flexible packaging, they often face hurdles when the goal is quick, clean production. What if there was a way to completely eliminate spill risk, increase convenience for the end consumer, and fill and seal flexible pouches of liquid in a fast, mess-free manner?
The answer launched at this year's Pack Expo: STANDCAP pouch packaging solutions. Premade STANDCAP pouches feature controlled and clean dispensing, zero risk of product leakage or spills, and visually connote a premium product designed with convenience top-of-mind. Great for liquids, pastes, and gels of all consistencies and viscosities, this innovative pouch format is disrupting mature markets.
Viking Masek exclusively launched a fill and seal packaging solution for these unique pouches by adding a new configuration of their dual-lane premade pouch machine. Features of this never-before-seen equipment include:
- Speeds of up to 80 STANDCAP pouches filled and sealed per minute
- Ultrasonic sealing technology
- A proprietary infeed design
Getting back to bag-sics
CPG companies are increasingly embracing simple, traditional bag types; namely, pillow style bags and stick packs. Simplified, uncomplicated bag styles have distinct production advantages, chief among them lower material and packaging equipment costs. When a package type is less complex, the packaging process and equipment required also becomes less complex. A simplified packaging process, above all, means costs savings and efficiency increases, which will contribute to a larger bottom line.
On the consumer side, pillow and stick packs satisfy today's shopper's demands for lightweight, convenient, and portion-controlled packaging that complements their on-the-go lifestyles. Suffering from choice fatigue because of the sheer breadth of products available on the market today, consumers are comforted by a simple, no-nonsense package.
Snacking and the shrinking package
It's no secret people are snacking more. Consumers are searching for convenient ways to prepare food quickly, make smaller portions, and eat outside the home. This is especially true for younger consumers, in fact, half of Millennials report that they have no set schedule for meals and 62% say that they snack throughout the day.
Mintel reports that thirty-three percent of US adults agree there are not enough conveniently packaged snacks, so manufacturers and CPG companies are responding in earnest by offering more options for snacks in right-sized packages. As bag sizes shrink, flexible packaging is the go-to format for snack items. Portable, lightweight, and cost-effective, a flexible pouch or bag is much more convenient for a busy consumer to enjoy on-the-go than a rigid container.
Thirty-three percent of US adults agree there are not enough conveniently packaged snacks.
Flexible packaging equipment like AUTOMATIC POUCH FILLING MACHINES and VFFS machinery is seeing increased popularity in the snack market as manufacturers look for ways to increase throughput and efficiency, add to their bottom line, and deliver a variety of convenient packages sizes to their consumers.
Learn more about trends impacting snacking today and how flexible packaging is stepping up to fill market gaps in our new eBook: SMALL IS THE New BIG.