Flexible Food Packaging Trends to Watch in 2018

Flexible film packaging is still trending up and shows no indication of slowing down. That aligns with the needs of food manufacturers and every other link in the supply chain. In 2018 and beyond, expect to see and use more of it.

Innovation lets food manufacturers meet current goals and set new ones that they could not have imagined a few years ago. Interactive packaging, as one example, turns flexible films into access points for important product data. Nanotechnology helps flexible materials provide better protection against transfer and spoilage.

What is on tap for 2018? Plenty. Expect to see more of the flexible packaging that you rely on, new innovations that make it smarter, and greater strides toward sustainability goals.

Interactive Packaging Responds to Users and the Environment

The more the user knows about a product, the better. In a recent packaging study by Mintel, researchers learned that about half of Americans like the idea of scanning a package to learn more. Interactive packaging provides access to more information than space on a label could allow. It also responds to its surroundings and might have the ability to adjust.

Here is what Consumer Goods says is possible now and will only become more important in the future:

  • Sensors that log real-time product data
  • Scannable packaging with updatable, cloud-based information such as allergens, preparation tips, and product freshness
  • Films and film laminates that interact with users and the environment

The Third International Conference on Food & Beverage Packaging, which takes place July 2018, posits that sensing technology is a necessary component of intelligent packaging.

Nanotechnology Helps Reduce the Likelihood of Spoilage

Food packaging has trended toward smaller, lighter, and stronger for the past several years. Nanotechnology helps take the industry a step further in size and also helps packaging offer better protection.

The Food & Beverage Packaging Conference has added nanotechnology to the 2018 lineup. Here are some of the high points:

  • Improving strength and performance in a smaller and lighter package
  • Adding silver or titanium dioxide nanoparticle antimicrobials as spoilage retardants
  • Adding clay nanoparticles to improve barrier film resistance to oxygen, carbon dioxide, and moisture

Food Manufacturers Increasingly Adopt Lightweight, Flexible Packaging

In 2013, Food Processing said, “processors can’t get enough flexible packaging . . .” In 2015, the Flexible Packaging Association reported over $30 billion in sales for the previous year, which amounted to nearly 20 percent of the packaging market.

Here is where flexible packaging is headed now, according to a recent Smithers Pira report:

  • Total flexible packaging market penetration of $230 billion in 2017.
  • Annual projected growth of 4.5 percent, up to $283 billion by 2022.

Flexible packaging 

Sustainability Means Less Packaging, Less Waste, and Fewer Carbon Emissions 

Ask ten people for their definition of “sustainability,” and you will probably get ten answers. The thing is, they all have the same core: reducing reliance on raw materials, reducing waste and carbon emissions, and maintaining balance or improving current conditions.

In packaging, sustainability springs from environmental awareness. At CDF Corporation, innovation makes it possible. That was true in 1971 with the advent of drum liners that enabled steel drum reuse, and it is true today with the myriad flexible film packaging options.

CDF Green reflects our corporate social responsibility to make every flexible and semi-flexible packaging system that we produce sustainable and in harmony with the environment.

The coming year promises to improve on everything that you already love about flexible film packaging, from smaller dimensions and improved strength to reduced product waste. With nanotechnology and trackable product data, the next decade in flexible packaging could change everything once again.

If you are ready to learn more about flexible materials, CDF Corporation is ready to help. Download our corporate brochure today.

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4 Key Flexible Packaging Factors that Ensure Food Safety

Food safety requires protective materials and processes working in concert to keep food fresh inside and guard against outside contaminants making their way in. Flexible packaging gives food manufacturers a variety of choices that work for products with different natures, such as dry goods, oily foods, and beverages. It is not one solution, but many.

Details such as storage temperature, sterilization process, and transportation conditions all help define what each food product needs. With flexible packaging, chances are there is an effective, economical, and dependable material or combination of materials that ensure food safety.

Here are four key factors to consider in your food safety and packaging strategy.

#1: Different Barrier Films Have Different Types of Protection

Every flexible film is a barrier of some type. The difference is in performance.

Polypropylene is one of the most common films, often used as bread packaging. But it is not as durable or protective as some others. LLDPE can offer a high rate of oxygen transfer, making it ideal for fresh vegetables that need oxygen. However, for food where oxygen is an enemy, PET helps block transfer. It is also heat resistant and lends itself to laminating.

Lamination lets you customize flexible packaging by bonding two or more layers of materials. For example, PET with a metalized film blocks UV rays, oxygen transfer, and moisture.

#2: Flexible Film is Only as Good as Its Seal

The power of flexible film and laminated films to ensure food safety hinges on the packaging seal. Packaging may be sealed using an adhesive or heat and pressure. Without a strong, consistent seal, contamination, spoilage, and product loss are likely.

Leak tests, says New Food Magazine, cover the whole package—barrier film and seal—to measure packaging integrity. Weave in additional demands, such as retort processes, and packaging seals become at least as important as the balance of the packaging.

Flexible packaging

You can revisit data any time–even weeks or years later–to identify strengths and weaknesses and introduce improvements.

#3: Modern Machinery Collects and Analyzes Data for Better Packaging Product Control

Instead of learning after the fact that there is a seal defect or another manufacturing issue that affects food safety, modern manufacturing and filling machinery monitor the system in real time. If there is a flaw, the whole line may be shut down while the defect is corrected, minimizing product loss.

Data helps clarify what is working like it should and what is not. Today and in the future, historical data can be analyzed and used to develop better packaging and processes. Data can also help pinpoint both the time of a defective run and the volume of packages affected by it. This fits into the Four Elements of an Effective Food Safety Management System, says Food Processing, through “instant traceability and recall management.”

#4: Storage Temperatures Can Alter Transfer and Shelf Life

The higher the temperature, the less resistant packaging may be to oxygen transfer and deterioration. New Food Magazine says that an understanding of storage conditions, especially temperature as it relates to packaging integrity enables a more accurate shelf life estimation.

The higher the storage temperature, the higher the rate of transfer or migration. With a higher rate of transfer, shelf life diminishes. Higher temperatures may also affect whether and to what degree laminate adhesives migrate through packaging to contaminate the food.

Food safety has a lot of moving parts, each one affecting the others. With flexible film, you have an array of choices and combinations that protect against migration and spoilage. There is likely one that is better suited for the food, storage conditions, shelf life demands, and budgetary restrictions with which you work.

Download our corporate brochure today and learn more about the possibilities with flexible films. We will show you why food manufacturers around the world are either using it already or moving in that direction.

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Three Factors to Consider When Choosing Anti-Stat Packaging

Plastics do not conduct electricity on their own; they require special treatment. Otherwise, they are insulators. That means untreated plastics cannot discharge static buildup the way other materials can. Antistatic materials matter for electronics manufacturers, but they may also matter for manufacturers of food and any other product that uses plastic packaging.

Static buildup can cause a host of problems:

  • Dust sticks to untreated plastic packaging, making the product unattractive.
  • Dust buildup may contaminate the product when it is opened.
  • Static may harm the electronics in flexible film packaging and filling machinery.
  • Dust that sticks to plastics can work its way into machinery rollers, frames, and electronics components.
  • Plastic film may not feed or seal properly if there is dust buildup.
  • Static can spark, causing a fire or explosion if it contacts flammable materials.
  • Combustible materials are not just chemicals; some food products can explode, especially if stored in metal drums with plastic liners.

You do not have to be an electronics manufacturer to need anti-stat film. If you are in the market, here are three things to consider.

Do You Need a Static-Free Environment?

You might not manufacture electronics, but you may have electronic components throughout the manufacturing and supply chain. Plastic film manufacturing and filling machinery, for example, has sophisticated electronics that control machine operation, collect data, and more.

Static can cause plastic film to stick to itself and everything else. It also attracts dust and does not let it go. Imagine plastic film feeding through your machinery and carrying dust on every turn of a roller. It does not take long for dust particles to make their way deep into costly machines, where they can affect operation and cause damage.

If your business or anyone else’s in the supply chain also manufactures, stores, or transports flammables, antistatic materials might be more important. Although antistatic garments help, humans carry electrical charges. Human contact with untreated plastics can exacerbate the static electricity problem.

Health and Safety Executive states these are just a few of the products that could catch fire or explode in the presence of static electricity:

  • Cooking oils
  • Custard powder
  • Instant coffee
  • Potato powder
  • Sugar
  • Flour
  • Dehydrated milk
  • Many other powdered foods

What Type of Antistatic Packaging Works Best for You?

Antistatic materials come in a few different types. Some are simple in function and good for basic static protection. There are also treated plastic films that shield against static and those that resist isolated static charges.

  • Static-dissipative: Available in bags and tubes, these provide economical static dissipation protection. Special humectant additives can also create a shield around the packaging.
  • Static-shielding: Also available in bags and tubes, these plastics are usually multi-layered and either metallic or semitransparent. They block electrostatic fields.
  • Black conductive tubing: The third option in single-layer tubes or flat bags, this protects against static charges.
Antistatic materials

Static can affect expensive machinery, causing mechanical and electronic malfunctions.

Which Can You Find the Right Level of Static Protection?

Drums and pails are some of the most common packaging and storage options in food manufacturing. When you combine a plastic drum with a plastic liner, you have two components that are not conductive, making them a static spark hazard. Military or “mil-spec” and National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standards are available in drum and pail liners.

Watch this quick video to see how CDF Corporation liners work.

CDF Corporation offers antistatic materials up to the highest military specifications.

  • MIL-B-81705C standards: the highest static decay and surface resistivity
  • NFPA-99: meets static decay time of .50 seconds or less at 50% +/- 2% relative humidity at a temperature of 23+/- 1°C./p>
  • Conductive liners: carbon-loaded polyethylene that meets MIL-P-82646A, MIL-P-82647 and NFPA-56A specs.

Antistatic packaging materials are well known in electronics manufacturing, but food manufacturing may also need it. Specially treated plastics can shield against static charges and dissipate them, keeping the products, people, and manufacturing equipment safer from contamination, fire, and explosion.

If your food manufacturing business needs the best antistatic materials available, CDF Corporation can help. Download our corporate brochure to learn more about our products and services.

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How to Choose the Right SQF Level for Flexible Food Packaging

When bad things happen upstream, those downstream suffer.

So the downstream people have a vested interest in making sure that the upstream people do things right.

That is the theory behind SQF (Safe Quality Food), an initiative to assure everyone along the food supply chain that what they buy meets quality and safety standards. SQF is a certification program administered by the nonprofit SQF Institute and recognized by the Global Food Safety Initiative. GFSI is an organization of about 400 food manufacturers and retailers worldwide that determines which food safety certifications are acceptable to its members and, by implication, to the industry at large.

In the United States, SQF is administered by the Food Marketing Institute (FMI), the leading trade organization for food retailers. FMI maintains a database of SQF-certified food manufacturers for its retailer members. It also hosts an annual Safe Quality Food International Conference to introduce new safety- and quality-related technologies, tools, and potential partners.

Sarah Malenich, the SQF Institute’s senior manager for sales and marketing notes:

“Obtaining SQF certification isn’t just about protecting consumers, food service providers, and retailers. It’s also about protecting the producers themselves. SQF Certification not only gives growers assurances that the food they’re selling has been produced to the highest possible standards, it also puts their contact information in an instantly accessible database that retail and foodservice buyers around the world can look to for suppliers they can trust.”

Food packaging

The SQF program operates on three levels. Level 1 is the most basic; it is appropriate for operations with inherently low levels of risk and is not recognized by GFSI. Level 2, unlike Level 1, incorporates elements of the HACCP approach (Hazard Analysis of Critical Control Points) and is the most common level. Level 3, the most advanced, incorporates elements of quality management with food safety management.

All manufacturers must meet certain basic requirements for a HACCP-compatible Level 2 operation. These include (but are not limited to): management commitment, documented control and records, approved suppliers, corrective and preventive action, internal audits, validation and verification, and recall or withdrawal strategies.

As retailers insist on SQF-certified products from manufacturers, the manufacturers are also requiring SQF certification from suppliers, including packaging suppliers. Food packaging has its own “module” within the industry-specific set of modules that further define SQF requirements.

CDF Corp. has achieved Level 2 SQF certification for the drum and pail liners, intermediate bulk container liners, bag-in-box liners and other flexible packaging manufactured at both of its facilities. Containers used as retail packages, like bag-in-box, would have to have SQF certification to be used at an SQF food manufacturing facility. Managers of such facilities might well insist on its suppliers using SQF-certified packaging, such as IBC liners, for their ingredients.

To maintain its SQF certification, CDF has 30 quality and safety programs in place, including: document control, monthly management audits, pest control, chemical control, training, quality control, customer quality/complaint management, traceability, hold and release protocol, handling of glass and brittle plastics, sanitation, and maintenance.

To learn more about our SQF-certified products, download our corporate brochure today.

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Manufacturer’s Quick Guide to Aseptic Food Packaging

When food must be pure, aseptic packaging helps make it so. Whether you manufacture baby food or beverages, the packaging that you rely on can either support sterility and purity, or it can become a hurdle to overcome. Flexible film packaging is in the former category.

If you want to save costs and improve quality by moving away from retort packaging or you need any solution that is better than what you use now, here is what you need to know.

What is Aseptic Packaging?

When food must be sterile, so must the food packaging. Aseptic food packaging is sterile so the pure, sterilized food has the greatest chance of staying that way through every link in the chain.

Typically, aseptic food processing involves a sterilization, either through quick, ultra-high temperatures or sometimes through ultraviolet light, and a sterile environment using sterilized equipment. Sterile food packaging is filled with the sterilized food and sealed to protect it from contamination.

In some cases, food and packaging are sterilized together. This is called retort packaging, which is similar to a food canning process. Packing is filled and sealed, then the sealed unit is heated to kill any bacteria that may be present. This can be an expensive approach.

Aseptic packaging is sterile before it is filled with sterilized food. Unlike retort packaging, aseptic packaging usually does not require further sterilization after it is filled and sealed. The inspection process should be filed with the FDA and meet FDA standards for sterility of the product, sterile zones in the manufacturing process, the packaging system, and the materials used in aseptic packaging.

Flexible packaging

Aseptic packaging keeps your sterile food sterile and helps improve the shelf life of fragile products.

What Is Happening in Aseptic Packaging Today?

Food manufacturers now have a few choices for aseptic food packaging. According to the University of Guelph,  these are the primary types of sterile food containers widely available today.

  • Fill-and-seal: pre-made containers that are sterilized, then filled and sealed
  • Form, fill and seal: flexible film materials that are sterilized, formed into the packaging shape needed, then filled and sealed
  • Erect, fill and seal: cartons that are built, sterilized, filled, and sealed
  • Thermoform, fill and seal: flexible film materials that are sterilized, thermoformed in a sterile environment, filled, then sealed
  • Blow mold, fill and seal: a wide range of possible materials, such as bag-in-box and laminated plastics, that are sterilized, filled, and sealed

Advances in aseptic packaging speed, scalability, strength of materials used, resistance to contamination and effective sealing technology make flexible materials an increasingly better choice for food manufacturers.

Where Can You Find the Aseptic Packaging Solutions You Need?

Flexible film materials and aseptic food packaging processes go hand in hand. With ever-improving technology in barrier films and lighter, high-capacity options, costs go down while quality goes up.

Take the IBC Pillow-Shaped Liner, for example. IBC tote liners are shaped like a pillow and use multiple layers of low-density polyethylene (LLDPE). With the addition of a barrier film, they are ideal for aseptic applications.

IBC liner production is closely monitored using sophisticated equipment. During production, if any issue arises, such as a detected faulty seal, the entire production line comes to a halt. That prevents faulty seals from making their way into your packaging.

When food sterility matters, aseptic food packaging helps you meet your goals. It is flexible, both in a literal and a figurative sense, and it helps reduce costs by as much as 40 percent, depending on what you use now.

If you are ready to learn more, we are ready to help. Contact us for a free sample and download our corporate brochure today.

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What Is Sustainable Materials Management?

Sustainability is such a vague term, it is no wonder so many companies have a vague idea about how to set and meet sustainability goals. As it applies to the environment, sustainability means getting the job done—whatever it is—without causing harm or impairing anyone’s ability to live well. More generally, it means reducing the negative effects that you have on the environment.

Sustainable Materials Management (SMM) seeks to reduce or eliminate the negative environmental effect of materials used in business throughout the material’s lifecycle. Significant gains have been made in the packaging industry, but it is just getting started.

SMM and the Circular Economy are Similar, but Not the Same

Some green-friendly terms are used interchangeably, even when they are substantially different. Sustainable Materials Management and the Circular Economy are on the same environmentally-aware wheel, but they are different spokes.

SMM examines and evaluates materials from numerous angles. The one with the lowest carbon footprint, as well as that can be determined, wins. The Circular Economy focuses on stopping the cycle of “virgin materials in, dead waste materials out.”

The Circular Economy reduces the volume of new raw materials to manufacture a product with a strong focus on recycled content. SMM recognizes that recycled content might not be the greenest approach.

Sustainable packaging materials

Even with increased participation, recycling and the Circular Economy are imperfect.

Recycling Has Limitations

Communities across the country have recycling bins for residents. Some cities require participation. In others, it is more of a suggestion. Either way, the country as a whole has a long way to go before all that can be recycled is recycled.

The weak link in the chain, according to Sustainable Packaging Coalition associate director, Adam Gendell, is manufacturer demand for post-consumer recycled content. He tells Packaging Digest that recyclable packaging is readily available. However, there is not enough demand to complete the circular economy by pulling those materials back into manufacturing.

With a sustainable materials management approach, businesses have more options, at least for now. Gendell says they are both vital to the future of sustainability. If one packaging material is not recyclable or does not have many viable recycling options, it still might be greener than the recyclable alternative. That is the case with many flexible packaging materials.

SMM Strategies Give Manufacturers More Packaging Choices

From the SMM standpoint, sustainability goals are met using the best option available. In some cases, recycled materials really are a better choice. Sometimes, they are not. Flexible packaging is not currently among more readily recyclable materials, but across the whole lifecycle, it is still greener than some materials that seem better at face value.

Think about glass packaging. It is recyclable. Cardboard is, too. However, flexible packaging materials are smaller and lighter. Transportation does not contribute as much to carbon emissions, and there are no emissions from a recycling process. Flexible materials such as the IBC High-Barrier Foil Liner can also enhance product safety and freshness, which reduces product waste.

Meta Pail packaging is also lighter than the alternatives and the LLDPE or HDPE pail and corrugated container are recyclable. What is more, there is ongoing research into recycling flexible packaging and getting plastics back into the cycle. Plastics Make it Possible says Materials Recovery for the Future is working on a solution for recovery.

Sustainable Materials Management lets you evaluate packaging products on all of their merits. Flexible materials might not seem to be as environmentally sound as materials that are frequently recycled. However, in the bigger picture, you will see lower costs, less storage space, fewer carbon emissions from transportation, less product waste, fewer virgin materials than some packaging with a post-consumer recycled content, and a more cost-effective product.

Download our corporate brochure to learn more about our environmentally-friendly flexible packaging options.

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New Alliance Aims to Standardize Sustainability in Flexible Packaging

One of the few perennial snags with flexible film packaging has been limited recycling options and participation. These plastics are generally not recycled to make new food packaging materials, and other recycling possibilities still need to be researched. Unification in testing and designations for recyclability are what the new coalition, Global Plastics Outreach Alliance, aims to resolve.

Three plastics recycling groups have partnered in the coalition: The European PET Bottle Platform (EPBP), Plastics Recyclers Europe (PRE) and The Association of Plastic Recyclers (APR). Their goal, according to Packaging World, is to globally simplify plastics recycling protocols for a streamlined process that benefits everyone.

Existing Testing and Design Protocols Vary

All of the groups included in the coalition have developed plastics recycling design and testing protocols. They help determine what is recyclable and how to go about it. The problem does not lie in a lack of research and development, but in protocol consistency around the world.

APR president, Steve Alexander, tells Plastics Technology Online, that the differences between protocols have created a complicated testing process with more steps than should be necessary.

“Differences between our protocols may require a company to conduct three separate tests to achieve the same recyclability designation. We hope to clarify those differences and align all segments of our testing protocols.”

Global Protocols Promote Recycling Innovation

There is no shortage of research and testing in plastics recycling. With every link in the supply chain more committed to sustainability goals, not to mention consumer demand, more manufacturers have committed to developing testing protocols. However, the differences from one organization to the next, says Alexander, require as many as three different recyclability testing processes just to achieve the same designation.

PRE president, Ton Emans, says the coalition should fill a void in the plastics recycling industry. With the “tremendous amount of work done” to improve recyclability, now the industry needs a “coordinated voice.”

EPBP representative, Andreas Christel, says the industry needs simplification. The fewer complications that engineers and designers face, the more innovation can flourish.

Flexible packaging

Unification reduces the possibility of error, speeds up the process, and keeps everyone in the chain on the same page.

Plastics Testing Should Become Streamlined and Reduce Costs

With APR, PRE, and EPBP working together, the future of plastics recycling should become much simpler. Without the coalition, innovation would continue and protocols would evolve. However, they could grow further apart, creating more challenges and unnecessary steps across the industry instead of fewer hurdles.

APR communications director, Kara Pochiro, explained to Plastics Recycling Update that currently, all of the processes are “very similar.” By aligning now, the organizations can grow stronger and more effective together. Innovation that benefits everyone can be shared across the industry. Testing protocols can be developed as a group and implemented at every link in the chain.

In the future, plastics testing for recyclability should require only one step, says Pochiro. Whether for recycling in the United States, the European Union or any other participating country, one test makes the process quicker, less costly, and less confusing.

Currently, recyclability in flexible packaging materials is one of the few enduring challenges. It is not that the plastics are not recyclable, but that there are not enough opportunities to do so. Options for manufacturing using recycled flexible materials also requires further research. In this environment, the Global Plastics Outreach Alliance could advance recyclability testing and support sustainability goals in a significant way.

Check out all bag-in-box packaging options available from CDF by Download our Bag-In-Box brochure.

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High Pressure Processing and Flexible Packaging: A Perfect Match

Food manufacturers are under a lot of pressure to produce high-quality products with clean ingredient labels.

Many of them are responding by putting the food itself under pressure.

High pressure processing (HPP), sometimes referred to as hydrostatic pressure processing, preserves food by literally squeezing the life out of microorganisms that cause spoilage. This is accomplished by putting the product into flexible packaging, placing the packages in a chamber filled with water, and inducing hydrostatic pressure in the water of between 43,000 and 87,000 pounds per square inch. This pressure produces corresponding pressure inside the package that is lethal to bacteria, spores, and other microscopic life; it also degrades certain enzymes that would otherwise break down the food. The result is a shelf-stable product.

HPP has a significant advantage over retorting (canning), aseptic processing, and other processes for shelf stability. It does not subject the product to heat. This preserves the food closer to its original state, which is especially important for food that probably will be consumed cold, like juices or salsas. It also accomplishes preservation without chemicals, which is important for processors who want to show consumers a simple, short, wholesome-sounding list of ingredients on the package.

“High pressure processing equipment has allowed our company to provide clean labels to consumers,” Mike Durbin, manager of engineering and plant maintenance for juice producer Evolution Fresh, said in a trade show panel discussion reported in Packaging World magazine.

Minimally processed products with clean labels are especially important in categories like baby food. That is why Johnny Kien, who launched Keen Bean Baby Blends (after founding Green Carrot Juice Co.), chose HPP to process his line of baby food with ingredients like goji, acai, hemp hearts, and chickpeas.

Flexible packaging“It is time to start serving our little ones real food,” Kien told Food Processing magazine. “Our product is as close to homemade, mama- (or dada-) fresh as possible, with the convenience of a spout pouch.”

The technology has been around for about 30 years, with pureed avocados being the first commercialized HPP product. Most foods processed with HPP are at least semi-fluid, such as dips, salsas, and “wet” salads like coleslaw. However, the technology has expanded to solid foods like deli meats. Because the pressure comes equally from all sides, it can treat a whole piece of food without causing damage.

HPP must be done in flexible packaging; rigid packages would not be able to transmit pressure internally. Much of the processing is done in pouches intended for individual sale, but HPP is also done in bulk flexible packaging. This is seen most often in foodservice, where, for example, smoothies in an HPP bag-in-box could be loaded into a dispenser, and in delis and other ready-to-eat areas in supermarkets, for items like bulk wet salads.

By the same token, ingredient processors can use HPP to ship minimally processed, shelf-stable ingredients to their food manufacturing customers. Being able to ship and store high-quality products and ingredients without refrigeration opens up an exciting new dimension for food processors and their suppliers.

Download our Bag-In-Box brochure to learn more about flexible packaging options today!

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Factors to Consider When Making the Switch from Rigid to Flexible Packaging

The 2016 State of the Flexible Packaging Industry report showed continued, steady growth, making flexible packaging one of the fastest growing segments available in America. The Flexible Packaging Association says flexible materials grew at a rate of about 2.2 percent for $31 billion in sales that year.

Why should that matter to you? Because in the U.S. and around the world, flexible materials are not just growing in popularity, they are becoming one of the most technologically advanced options you can buy.

Chances are, you have at least considered whether or not you should transition from rigid or semi-rigid containers to flexible options. Before you make the switch, here are a few factors to ponder.

Is There a Flexible Solution for Your Product?

Perhaps the most important factor in deciding whether or not to switch to flexible packaging is whether it will work for you. If the product that you manufacture cannot be safely, easily, and affordably contained, the discussion is probably over.

Fortunately, there is an enormous array of flexible packaging solutions for everything from fresh foods to hazardous materials.

  • IBC liners use multiple layers.
  • Metallized polyester creates a safe water vapor and oxygen barrier.
  • LLDPE films offer crack resistance and durability in a general purpose film.
  • Co-extruded nylon is strong and guards against abrasion damage.
  • UN-certified materials protect the product and the environment.

Through laminating technology, you are not limited to one film only. Combining films lets you customize to meet the needs of the product, the filling machinery, handling practices, environmental factors, storage limitations, and end-user preferences.

Flexible packaging

Your transportation partner might love you for switching from heavy, fragile glass to light, durable flexible packaging.

Can Your Supply Chain Handle a New Packaging Material?

Switching to flexible materials affects not just your business but everyone else’s in the supply chain from the transportation company to the end user. If you switch packing to flexible materials, are your supply chain partners equipped to handle the change?

Flexible packaging is usually easier to handle, not more difficult. It is less prone to breakage and it is much more lightweight than glass, metal, or rigid plastics. Because flexible materials hold more with less, the same product volume takes up less space. There are fewer transportation vehicles needed and less space in storage.

Flexible packaging also helps keep costs down for everyone involved. In fact, cost reduction is one of the most attractive and universal benefits. Packaging Strategies reports that over time, the smaller, lighter qualities could translate to big savings in fuel costs, handling, storage, and product loss.

What are Your Green Manufacturing Goals?

Does your business have green goals? Many companies do, but there is a point where you might hit a wall. Rigid containers can only offer so much toward lowering your carbon footprint. Flexible materials are designed for it.

Unfortunately, when some people think “flexible,” they think “plastics that do not degrade.” It is time to put that notion to bed. Flexible materials are incredibly green and Earth-friendly. Here are just a few of the numerous reasons why:

  • Fewer raw materials
  • Significantly less packaging waste
  • Smaller dimensions
  • Fewer transportation vehicles
  • Lower fuel consumption
  • Fewer carbon emissions
  • Smaller storage areas with less reliance on fossil fuels for conditioning
  • Longer shelf life at room temperature
  • Recyclability (in some, but not all, cases)

If there is room to improve your green manufacturing practices, flexible packaging might be the answer for which you are looking.

No matter what product you manufacture, freshness is vital. Dry goods go stale, fresh foods spoil, and food-borne illnesses put everyone at risk. For foods, better freshness protection by way of improved packaging means less food waste and a lower risk of people getting sick.

One of the most relevant examples today is fresh food and water delivery to people who are desperate for it, such as those who have survived a natural disaster and people living in poverty-stricken areas. Some films also go from refrigeration to heat for cooking without the need for a skillet, pot, or utensils.

Flexible materials offer a longer shelf life, protection against contamination, UV resistance, and many other benefits under extreme conditions. Imagine how they can perform for you.

If you are committed to rigid packaging because it is familiar, think of the humble butter wrapper. It is flexible and it has been around for generations. Flexible materials have expanded beyond the feed sacks and sugar bags of 100 years ago because they work and showed great potential. Food manufacturers around the world are moving toward flexible film packaging now because it works better.

If you are on the verge of making the switch from rigid containers to flexible packaging, we can help. Download our Bag-In-Box brochure for more information.

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Top Trends in Flexible Food and Beverage Packaging

Flexible packaging is evolving almost as fast as films roll off the machinery. For the food and beverage industry, this means more choices, more solutions, and packaging that can adapt quickly to the tighter and more ecologically-aware needs of everyone in the supply chain.

Trends in flexible packaging lean toward creating better solutions. What are the current pain points in food manufacturing and how can the industry help solve them? Flexible materials are already known for certain characteristics, such as strength and lighter weight in a comparatively compact size. The horizon promises improvements on those and other fronts.

Advancing Film Technology Works for More Products

Food manufacturers that previously resisted the switch to flexible packaging have more reasons to revisit it. Flexible films and manufacturing technologies are advancing quickly with more and better materials available.

Film packaging manufacturers offer a variety of simple and complex films for different products. For more challenging food products, laminated films combine the benefits of two or more materials, such as oxygen and water vapor barriers. With custom packaging dimensions, you get a solution that is not standard but tailored to the manufacturer’s needs and the product’s requirements. Canadian Packaging says this dynamic nature is what makes flexible packaging poised for more industry growth.

Research and Innovation Make Recyclability a Growing Option

One of the initial concerns about flexible packaging is becoming less of an issue all the time. Recyclability was a stumbling block for some materials and the manufacturers that might have used them. That is changing with a push for more eco-friendly flexible packaging choices and research exploring alternative materials.

In the meantime, recyclability is already happening for non-food products. The flexible packaging that contains jams or dry cereals for a food manufacturer today may contain fertilizer tomorrow. Packaging Digest notes that recyclability depends in large part on these factors:

  • Designs that make recycling easier
  • Improved recyclable materials collection
  • Better materials sorting
  • More variety in products that use recycled flexible films
  • New technologies
Flexible packaging

Metallized films upgrade flexible packaging to resist moisture, oxygen, and other contaminants.

Better Film Barriers Mean Less Spoilage and Loss

At the consumer level, there is a growing demand for fresh, convenient foods with lighter, stronger, and smaller packaging. Plastics Today suggests that meeting this demand determines whether or not food manufacturers can stay competitive.

With improved films and metalized materials with innovative packaging and filling technology, manufacturers can respond to market demand with packaging that:

  • Resists UV damage
  • Resists oxygen and water vapor infiltration
  • Resists oil transfer
  • Extends room temperature shelf life
  • Resists temperature extremes between freezing, refrigeration, thawing, and cooking

Green Guidelines Become More Attainable

Green practices demand packaging that is less of a burden on the environment. Downsizing with flexible materials helps manufacturers meet stricter guidelines and reduce the carbon footprint of everyone in the supply chain.

Firstly, flexible packaging is smaller than comparable rigid packaging so it needs fewer raw materials. Secondly, manufacturing is much faster so fewer emissions result from the manufacturing process.

Canadian Packaging says, “Manufacturing 780,000 flexible pouches consumes 87 percent less coal, 74 percent less natural gas, and 64 percent less crude oil in comparison to the manufacturing of rigid clamshell packages.”

The green benefits only grow from there:

  • Less storage space required
  • Less transportation space required
  • Lower carbon emissions from fewer trips to transport more product
  • Less product loss from both improved packaging durability and resistance to spoilage
  • Creative packaging design and taps minimize the need to decant into a secondary container
  • Lighter weight requires less heavy equipment to handle and store
  • For hazardous materials, UN-Certified packaging reduces the likelihood of a spill

The flexible packaging industry growth is supported by its versatility and adaptability. If a product changes, flexible packaging can change to keep up with it much more quickly than rigid packaging. If product use or storage conditions change, flexible materials keep up.

Consumer demand might be a driving force behind research, development, and wider implementation in flexible packaging. However, the benefits for the food manufacturing supply chain cannot be overstated. If you are ready to learn more, contact us for a free sample and download our corporate brochure today!

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