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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6 Reasons Flexible Packaging Market Will Reach $202 Billion within Five Years

New research into the flexible packaging industry shows dramatic growth is still ahead. According to Persistence Market Research, Pvt. Ltd., whose press release was listed at PR Newswire, the global market is projected to experience a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of approximately 6.7 percent between 2017 and 2022. That is based on an industry analysis period that ran from 2012 to 2016.

The flexible packaging industry is not just hot in America; it is growing around the world. From sachet and pouches to bags, films, and wraps, flexible materials have come a long way since the advent of gum wrappers and sugar bags.

Here are six reasons behind the recent surge in popularity and its projected growth over the next five years.

#1: Flexible Packaging is Cost-Effective

Perhaps the most often cited reason manufacturers prefer flexible packaging is the cost. It requires fewer raw materials than rigid packaging options and the materials cost less. Manufacturing is quick, there is minimal waste, both during production and after use, and it costs less to produce. Over a million Americans work in the flexible packaging industry, so supporting it helps keep jobs stateside.

#2: There Is Growing Variety in Flexible Film Materials

Do you manufacture an unusual or uncommon product that requires a custom packaging shape, size, and transfer resistance? There is a film for that. Check with your packaging partner to learn what is available. If you gradually incorporate flexible materials into your packaging repertoire, you can monitor its performance and measure it against the rigid containers to which you are accustomed. Flexible packaging films range from general use to high-tech. There is also vapor barrier film and specialty materials that make packaging UN-compliant.

#3: It Helps Prevent Contamination and Extends Product Shelf Life

The threat of food contamination not only puts your business at risk, it also endangers the health and well-being of the end user. Flexible packaging films can block UV rays, air, water vapor, and oil transfer. Packaging seals are strong and machined in a continuous seam. They are inspected regularly, and cutting-edge equipment adds data collection to the mix. If there is ever a problem, you can track it to the moment it happened and make a course-correction. Food stays fresher, even on a shelf with no refrigeration.

Flexible packaging

Flexible packaging has something good for everyone in the supply chain.

#4: Flexible Materials are Lighter, Smaller, and Easier to Store

Glass packaging is notoriously heavy. Metal is not much better and in some cases, it is worse. Flexible packaging weighs a fraction of what rigid containers do for the same storage capacity. That is partly because you can store more in a smaller container without sacrificing durability, and it is partly because flexible films weigh less than the same volume of metal, glass, or rigid plastics.

#5: It Is One of the Most Versatile Packaging Choices on the Market

If your product changes or you decide to store more or less product than before, switching to a new rigid container could take weeks or months of change orders and manufacturing. That is not the case with flexible packaging. The films used in manufacturing are light, thin, and easy to manipulate. By reprogramming with new dimensions, you can change the size and shape of your packaging without significant downtime.

#6: Manufacturers, Retailers, and Consumers Prefer it

There is a lot to be said for making people happy. Flexible packaging does just that. It is the packaging of choice for consumers and retailers for many of the same reasons manufacturers prefer it. Transportation partners also appreciate the benefits. Smaller containers mean more product fits in one shipment than with traditional rigid packaging. Because flexible films are quite durable, there is much less risk of breakage, product loss, and messes to clean up.

The packaging industry is experiencing a revolution. Flexible materials have been around for generations, but modern flexible films take it to places it has never been. With projected growth over the next five years approaching seven percent annually, who knows what possibilities might arrive in the future? There is only one way to find out. Contact us for a free sample and download our corporate brochure and learn why the market is taking off like a rocket.

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How Do UN Hazardous Transport Regulations Compare to US Shipping Standards?

Whether shipping within the United States or abroad, hazardous materials or HAZMAT goods are a special case. Procedural norms for handling them can be complicated, especially when more than one country is involved.

UN Model Regulations guide the international transport of hazardous goods. While not a global rule of law, they are widely accepted. They also serve as a guide for developing and implementing regulations closer to home.

UN Certified Packaging Brings Continuity to Hazardous Materials Handling

One of the first steps in safely handling hazardous materials is classifying them. Is the material a flammable liquid or solid? Is it a gas or an explosive? The UN Regulation Model for dangerous goods has several classifications and they all require special packaging.

The U.S. Department of Transportation recognizes the same HAZMAT classifications as the UN  requirements. That is due in part to the need for consistency in handling dangerous materials, whether it is a domestic or international shipment. It is also because UN classifications are accurate. There is little reason to overcomplicate matters.

DOT Rules Apply Across Every Regulated Mode of Transportation

In the U.S. and many countries around the world, the predictable rules for hazardous goods are in effect for every regulated mode of materials transport. Lion Technology explains that whether it is by rail, air, vessel, or motor vehicle, hazardous materials transported within, out of, or through America are equally subject to regulation.

Many rules are the same from one American mode to the next, but each one is subject to special rules as well. As for international transportation, standards such as the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the International Maritime Dangerous Goods (IMDG) take precedence. Again, they are all rooted in or very similar to UN Model Regulations.

UN certified packaging

Some HAZMAT containers have an expiration date.

UN Model Rules are Sometimes More Stringent

Just because HAZMAT packaging is safe inside the United States does not mean it is deemed safe for international transport. Daniel Stoehr of Daniels Training Services writes at New Pig that a good example is the plastic drum container.

In some ways, domestic and international regulations are the same. Stoehr offers these as examples:

  • The packaging must be officially authorized for containing the material.
  • The shipper has determined that the packaging meets general HAZMAT packing rules.
  • The packaging must be clearly labeled with its UN standard classification.

For certain HAZMAT packaging, such as plastic drums, additional DOT or UN requirements apply:

  • Suitable materials and strength for its intended use.
  • No recycled materials allowed without explicit permission.
  • UV protection acceptable if it does not compromise packaging integrity.
  • Every point in the packaging must meet strength standards.
  • Acceptable, standard size openings for filling, emptying, and venting.
  • Secure closure for removable head containers.
  • Within the maximum capacity and net mass dimensions.

For international transport, there is another regulation to meet. Packaging for hazardous materials may only be used within five years after the manufacture date.

The UN Model Regulations were developed by the Economic and Social Council’s Committee of Experts on the Transport of Dangerous Goods. Although they were created and issued as recommendations, the scope of research and level of subject matter expertise of the committee makes the regulations universally valuable. That is why the United States, as well as countries around the world, have created similar domestic rules.

Modeling domestic HAZMAT transport rules after UN specifications brings uniformity to industries that manufacture, package, transport, and store hazardous materials. DOT rules might not be identical in every instance, but they are quite similar.

Remaining compliant with UN-certified packaging standards requires working with a supplier that is innately knowledgeable with product and packaging classifications and the testing required to remain compliant. Having passed rigorous testing, CDF’s UN-certified bag-in-box allows you to transport a wide array of goods domestically and internationally. Download this data sheet to learn more about CDF’s UN-certified bag-in-box packaging and how it will help you keep your business moving.

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Exploring the Role of Antimicrobial Agents in Flexible Packaging

Whether it happens on your watch or in the hands of the end user, spoilage is waste. It wastes money, food, and the time that it takes to start over again from scratch. If you want to really dig in, spoilage wastes crops, farm worker labor, packaging materials, and transportation costs. Antimicrobial agents could be a solution.

In flexible packaging, antimicrobial agents help control food waste by preventing the growth of bacteria. That, in turn, extends shelf life. It is an emerging idea that could take product freshness to places you never imagined.

Natural Antimicrobial Agents Help Control Contamination

Flexible packaging already offers a superior barrier that protects fresh foods from contamination. It is strong, so it does not carry the same breakage risks as packaging such as glass. The wide range of film choices on the market gives food manufacturers options for protecting acidic juices, oily salad dressings, and dry goods such as cereals, all of which have properties that can degrade or break some types of packaging.

The addition of natural antimicrobial agents enhances the durable and protective characteristics of flexible packaging. Instead of a barrier that only blocks UV rays and moisture, it also prevents bacteria from ruining the food inside.

Natural antimicrobials fall into the “GRAS” or Generally Recognized as Safe category for food additives. MDPI explains that depending on the packaging and the food it contains, they may include these and other agents:

  • Enzymes
  • Organic acids
  • Bacteriocins
  • Essential oils
Flexible packaging

Antimicrobial agents take shelf life from days or weeks to months or years.

The Benefits of Antimicrobial Agents in Flexible Packaging Go Beyond the Ordinary

Food contamination has a far-reaching effect that puts everyone from the food manufacturer to the consumer at risk. Not only do contaminants threaten the health of the end-user, an outbreak of food-borne illness can destroy the reputation and ultimately the business of the manufacturer.

Food-safe antimicrobial agents keep fresh food fresh longer, but that is really the narrow view. Edition Truth says the combination of flexible materials and antimicrobials could benefit everyone in the supply chain in other ways.

When food is less vulnerable to spoilage, more people have access to healthy foods. In disaster-stricken locations such as post-hurricane Puerto Rico, food delivery is more problematic than anyone predicted. Flexible packaging with antimicrobial agents could put healthier foods into the hands of people who have no ability to shop for it locally.

Here are just a few more benefits:

  • Eliminate or reduce the need for cold storage
  • Protect a vast range of products from pharmaceuticals to juices to ready-to-eat foods
  • Open up a broader range of transportation options through less breakage and smaller containers
  • Make distribution possible to farther-reaching parts of the country and the world where safe food is scarce

Consumers rely on safe, fresh food that will not spoil quickly or cause harm. Antimicrobial agents in flexible packaging are an emerging possibility that help food manufacturers, packers, transportation companies, and others in the supply chain provide it. The more the possibilities are studied and the more that the packaging industry learns, the better you can meet the needs of your company, your workers, and the family who opens a juice container at the breakfast table.

If you need better food packaging options, advancing technology in flexible materials could be the answer. Contact us for a free sample and download our corporate brochure.

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Ensuring Compliance with UN Transport Standards in the Chemical Industry

UN certified packaging

Anyone who doubts that flexible intermediate bulk containers can safely be used in any kind of application should check out their use for hazardous materials.

Flexible intermediate bulk containers (FIBCs) and bag-in-box packaging are regularly used to ship hazardous materials under United Nations regulations. These regulations set out certain performance standards for various classifications of hazards.

These hazard classifications include:

Class 4.1: Flammable solids, self-reactive substances, and desensitized explosives

Class 4.2: Substances liable to spontaneous combustion

Class 4.3: Substances that emit flammable gases when they come in contact with water

Class 5.1: Substances that oxidize

Class 5.2: Organic Peroxides

Class 6.1: Toxic substances

Class 8: Corrosive substances

Class 9: Miscellaneous dangerous substances and articles

According to UN regulations, FIBCs and bag-in-box can only be used for free-flowing solids in designated UN bulk bags. To earn the designation of “UN Bulk Bag,” a flexible bag must meet some rigorous performance standards while filled to 95 percent capacity. These include:

  1. Vibration: 60-minute vibration test
  2. Top Lift: Lifted from top and/or side and maintain 6:1 load for 5 minutes (i.e., a bag must be able to sit atop another bag one-sixth its weight without damaging the lighter bag)
  3. Stacking: 24-hour stacking test with no content loss
  4. Drop: No content loss at three different drop heights
  5. Topple: Toppled on any part of top without content loss
  6. Righting: FIBC on its side, lifted into the upright position, without damage to the bag
  7. Tear resistance: Knife cut cannot spread more than 25 percent of initial length

UN certified packagingThe Reusable Industrial Packaging Association (RIPA) recommends several best practices when FIBCs are used for hazardous materials. They should only be cleaned or subjected to otherwise routine maintenance; repaired or remanufactured FIBCs should not be used for hazardous materials.

“After routine maintenance, it is the recommendation of this Code that reuse for hazardous materials be restricted to the same product and the same prior filler,” RIPA’s guidelines state. “This will help minimize or eliminate concerns about the possible cross-contamination of a lading.”

Using FIBCs and bag-in-box for hazardous materials present many of the same advantages as in any application. Because they can be evacuated faster and more completely than most rigid bulk containers, residue is greatly reduced, which becomes an even bigger concern when hazardous materials are being handled. One-time use of FIBCs and bag-in-box eliminates the danger of cross-contamination. The frames of FIBCs can be folded flat and shipped back up the supply chain, for greater ongoing transport efficiency.

CDF’s UN Certifed Bag-in-Box Options

Bag-in-box is the ideal packaging solution for chemical, food, beverage, and cosmetic applications. CDF offers both form-fit and pillow styles to accommodate your packaging needs.

CDF’s UN-certified bag-in-box meets all UN requirements and is certified by a third-party lab following the Department of Transportation guidelines. Our 20-liter UN certified bag-in-box provides the highest levels of protection for transporting hazardous products requiring class II and III packaging. The 20-liter bag-in-box packaging endured four rigorous performance tests. The tests include drop, stacking, vibration, and cobb water absorption.

Having passed rigorous testing, CDF’s UN-certified bag-in-box allows you to transport a wide array of goods domestically and internationally. Download this data sheet to learn more about CDF’s UN-certified bag-in-box packaging and how it will help you keep your business moving.

Yes! Read the UN-Certified Bag-in-Box Data Sheet