IMPROVISING FLEXIBLE PACKAGING—INNOVATIONS AND ADVANCEMENTS IN EXISTING PRODUCTS

Flexible packaging has made lives easier for on-the go consumers with its high standard of functionality and sustainability. This factor is what has helped stoke the flexible packaging industry all over the globe. Today, an abundance of pouches can be found in super marts, grocery stores, shopping aisles etc.

Innovative structural design has been the cause of this benefit. Pouch packaging gives the liberty to mould it into unique sizes and shapes, is functional and convenient. Considering the popularity, flexible packaging manufacturers are regularly brainstorming in order to find new applications and to cater to a growing customer base. Unlike other packaging formats that cater to a limited set of products or to a niche segment the usage of flexible packaging is vast and versatile. No wonder, that this form of packaging has been recognized as the most useful packaging format in today’s age.

With plastic packaging being accepted in nearly every product segment, its important that the flexible packaging manufacturers device innovative and improvised packages to attract the brand owners and consumers. Some of the recent innovations and advancements that the packaging industry has seen are:

  • Co extrusion- It allows the manufacturer to prepare a multi functional packaging material in one manufacturing process as compared to traditional method of lamination and coating. Co extrusion method helps the plastic manufacturer lower the production cost involved in traditional lamination.
  • In-mold labeling- Technologies like bioplastics and nanoparticle layered plastic packaging are also slowly gaining ground owing to the increased awareness on sustainability. The Indian packaging sector has witnessed a fast growing inclination towards flexible packaging over other traditional forms owing to the light weight and functionality of plastic.
  • Modified Atmosphere Packaging (MAP) – This technology helps the packaged food with increased shelf‐life of minimally‐processed foods. By modifying the internal environment of the package, the natural deterioration of the product is slowed down—preserving its fresh state for a longer period of time.
  • Another factor propelling the growth of the stand-up pouch as opposed to the metal can is the Aseptic packaging. This technology helps sterilize the package and the food product separately and then combine and seal it under a sterilize environment. This trend is fast picking up and is expected to lead in the coming year
  • Temperature variations in packed food can result in compromising its safety and quality. Driven by rapid advancements in time-temperature indicators (TTI), intelligent packaging is anticipated to witness a strong growth. This system could be able to detect food contamination and change of color incase the food is not fit for consumption by the consumer. Uflex Ltd is striving to provide smart, intelligent packaging solutions to the consumers with state of the art packaging and converting machines.
  • Rotogravure printing is the latest in printing technique. Manufacturers can get vibrant and clear logos and designs through this technique. Flexible packaging, being relatively new, combines very well with rotogravure printing.

Globally, the use of pouches for snacks grew by 7% in the year 2012-13. Pouches for sauces, juices registered a growth of 20% in the same duration. Other categories like baby food, side dishes grew by 102% and 58% respectively in the same period. Pouch packaging also saw a 32% growth in the pet food segment in the duration 2009-13.

The Indian flexible market which was worth Rs. 14,000 crores in 2011 is expected to reach Rs. 22,950 crores in 2015.  As the numbers indicate, flexible packaging is attracting companies and consumers alike. Factors like cost effectiveness, sustainability, convenience etc all add to its value proposition. For this reason, flexible packaging will continue its growth over other types of packaging.

Uflex Ltd., India’s largest flexible packaging company has contributed greatly in both domestic and international food packaging market with its innovative and world class flexible packaging solutions, a variety of value added flexible packaging material and sophisticated products. The company believes that the greatest improvement in the packaging industry is the flexible packaging and strives to provide smart, intelligent packaging solutions to the consumers with state of the art packaging and converting machines. In this regard Uflex Ltd., is privileged to contribute to society by producing a variety of value added flexible packaging material, sophisticated products including films like BOPET, BOPP and CPP; state-of-the-art packaging and converting machines and rotogravure cylinders, thereby providing world class flexible packaging solutions to its customers.

UFLEX Ltd Q2 FY2014-15 Consolidated Net Revenue at Rs. 1671crore; and Net Profit at Rs. 65 Crore

Uflex Ltd, the Bombay Stock Exchange (UFLEX: 500148) and NSE listed, India’s largest flexible packaging company has registered the Consolidated net revenue for the September quarter of F.Y. 2015 of Rs. 1671 crore as against Rs. 1516 crore for the same period last year, up 10%. The consolidated net profit for the quarter ended September 30, 2014 has been higher at Rs. 65 crore as against Rs. 46 crore for the same period last year up by 41%.

The increase in revenue is attributed to increased uptakeon innovative flexible packaging solutions provided by the company across sectors globally.

According to Mr. Ashok Chaturvedi, Chairman and M.D. of UFLEXLtd, “We are committed to innovations and creatingnew trends thanks to the breakthroughs in Polymers research and raw material enhancements. With our ability to delight our customers with the latest packaging material, technology and a wide array of products, we have strong relationships with all our customers. This commitment has reflected in our sustained growth over the years.”

Expansion Plans

UFLEX’s agenda of global expansion and consolidation of its position as a truly Indian MNC (Multinational Corporation) is reinforced with its strategy of capacity expansion and adding manufacturing lines for various product categories across existing and newer locations to increase proximity to the markets, but also to bring broad portfolio of value added products to its clients at competitive price points. Accordingly, the Company has been working on its expansion plans and proposeto invest around Rs. 1800 crore (USD 300 Mln.) in next 3 years to achieve its growth plans in future.

Uflex’s strong manufacturing base in India, Mexico, Dubai, Egypt, Poland and USA caters to global markets spanning USA, Canada, South America, UK, Europe, Russia, CIS countries, South Africa and other African countries, the Middle East and the South Asian Countries.

The company offers its flexible packaging products and solutions globally to clients including Unilever, Pepsi, Wrigley, Procter & Gamble, Colgate, Palmolive, Nestle, Gillette, Ranbaxy, Perfetti, Joyco, Monsanto, ITC, Godrej Pillsbury, Tata Tea, Hindustan Petroleum, Indian Oil, Britannia, Dabur, Haldiram, Wockhardt, HUL, Parle Biscuit, Birla 3M, among others.

Standup pouches vs. canned packaging

The stand up pouches are all over the market shelves holding in a variety of packaged products of all sorts. The food metal can is slowly losing the war against the ever flexible stand up pouches. Consumers especially in the mature markets are rejecting the Can in favor of the pouch. The sales of the canned food have either been static or declining and are seeing its share eroded in the pet food segment by flexible packaging.

The reasons are varied. The food metal can is notoriously difficult to open. The can is also the heaviest form of packaging and is hence responsible for a lot of carbon footprint. In addition, there is nothing much one can do to alter the shape and design on a metal can and they all end up looking similar on the shelf. Metal cans are now considered old fashioned and an environmental risk.

Tuna fish, cereals and a variety of snacks which traditionally came packaged in tin cans have migrated to stand up pouches. Further usage is expected to come in the form of frozen food and fruits, cocktails, baby food, cheese, soups etc. Pouches are also being used to package motor oils, cooking oils and vegetables, all mostly the domain of the metal can earlier.

According to a research conducted by the PMMI- Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies, the stand-up pouches with or without zippers were the fastest growing format of packaging.

In another report on the stand-up pouch market, PCI Films Consulting forecasts that the demand for pouches in the American market will continue to grow by around 7% p.a. to reach nearly 24 billion units in 2018, at least twice as fast as volume growth expected in the US flexible packaging market as a whole.

The stand up pouches have become popular over the years owing to the fact that it is made by blending several layers of plastic with  metalization thereon and this combination allows for a new and sophisticated printing and designing techniques to be used on the packet. This fact alone gives the manufacturers to design attractive logos, designs, graphics etc on their package which can catch the eye of the consumer.

Another factor propelling the growth of the stand-up pouch as opposed to the metal can is the Aseptic packaging. This technology helps sterilize the package and the food product separately and then combine and seal it under a sterilize environment.  This trend is fast picking up and is expected to lead in the coming years. Currently the Aseptic packaging market is at $35.8 billion and is expected to continue the upward spiral due to the consumers demanding chemical- free, natural and fresh food and beverages.

Other basic advantages of the Stand up pouches are that they use less space which means less transportation and storage cost. The chances of spillage etc are also lessened considerably. Many pouches come with resalable options like screw on caps which make the product more convenient and sustainable. Spouted pouches are a popular choice among the consumers, manufacturers, and retailers due to their ability to inhibit harmful impact on the environment, their ease of use, inexpensive nature, and flexible packaging options.

Keeping its commitment with innovation, Uflex Ltd., India’s largest flexible packaging company has  invested in large No. of High Speed Pouch Making Machines of wide range for making three side seal pouch, pouch with zipper, stand-up pouches. 3D Pouches, Pouches with slider & diaphragm It produces high quality pouches with superior seal integrity. The machine packs and seals  powder, granules, liquids and paste in preformed pouches like center seal pouch, three side seal pouch, stand-up pouch and zipper pouch with or without diaphragm etc. made-up of heat sealable laminated film.

Uflex Ltd. is committed to the growth and innovation in flexible packaging industry. Uflex believes that the greatest improvement in the packaging industry is the flexible packaging. Many of the innovations that have become a part of the FMCG industry are products of the flexible packaging industry.

The essentials of Product Packaging

When it comes to innovation, packaging in FMCG is an area which is ever changing with new technologies and ideas flowing through each day. The package forms the first and most important aspect of the brand in the mind of the buyer. The packaging of many consumer products is built around the notion that the buyer makes an informed, rational choice when faced with options to purchase. But in truth, many buys are purely intuitive and go by the look of the package rather than the information. The color, shape and familiarity of the location are what prompts the customers to make the purchase. Hence, the instinctive reactions can be included into the packaging through the application of Biomotive triggers.

Biomotive triggers are used on designs of flexible packaging as certain graphic elements triggers instinctive response from the consumers. This neuro marketing strategy targets the emotions and not reason. For example: a cusp shape is likely to convey fear, caution or intimidation; while curves spell softness and comfort in packages.  Understanding such cues can help packaging designers connect better emotionally with the end consumer and help sell more products for the brand.

A good design should reflect the brand and personality of the company. The brand should be clear about its USP and its reason for being. Effective packaging can help convey what the brand is, who it is, how it is relevant in the life of the buyer.  Distinctive packaging can help shoppers navigate through the crowd for their favorite brand. Colors, shape, logos, imagery all play a part in attracting the customer.

Flexible style of packaging can be customized into practically any shape or size. They can also incorporate a variety of colours and styles. A different looking packet is bound to attract the eye of the consumer.

Some points to keep in mind to gain the maximum out of the product packaging designs are:

1) Be unique:  In today’s noisy and commotion filled stores, its important that the brand stands out. Just shouting out loud will not be of any help. Having a package that attracts the buyer and communicated the essence of the proposition is what will engage the buyer.

2) Keep it simple: Simple designs, clean cuts are what is bound to be more effective in a busy market like todays. Giving your consumer the sense of visual and auditory peace will make him want to go for your product. ‘Having a sense of quiet’ is what is the latest mantra in the package design circles. That way, brands have a better chance to be heard, noticed and grabbed.

3) Be creative:  An innovative packaging innovation that is able to reignite or revive a brand is every manufacturer’s dream. However, unimaginative and packaging design copied off other models just creates confusion in the buyer’s minds.   No matter how good a product is, poor or drab packaging can keep it from selling. A good design should reflect the brand and personality of the company. Apart from a good looking package the manufacturer should also ensure that the shape and materials are equally appealing.

4) Brand recall:Packaging is often the consumer’s first point of contact. Even in cases of known brands, a re-launch will require attractive packaging. The customer should be able to recall or recognize your brand in a blink of an eye maybe on the basis of the colour scheme, the design or the logo.

Customers also look for honesty in the brands they choose to use. Simply said, they want to know whether the contents listed on the package are exactly what they are to find inside it. For that companies should ensure that their packages look trustworthy. This can happen if the packages are made from the highest quality of materials and should be in tandem with the image of the company.

Flexible packaging allows for a new and sophisticated printing and designing techniques to be used on the packet. This fact alone gives the manufacturers to design attractive logos, designs, graphics etc on their package which can catch the eye of the consumer. Uflex Ltd. believes that the greatest improvement in the packaging industry is the flexible packaging. Many of the innovations that have become a part of the FMCG industry are products of the flexible packaging industry.

Uflex pushes for new innovations and trends thanks to the breakthroughs in plastic research and raw material enhancements.

 

Innovations of Flexible Packaging

Temperature variations in packed food can result in compromising its safety and quality. Driven by rapid advancements in time-temperature indicators (TTI), intelligent packaging is anticipated to witness a strong growth. This system could be able to detect food contamination and change of color incase the food is not fit for consumption by the consumer.
One of the most important points of consideration for the manufacturer of flexible packaging for the F&B have to take into is the consumer safety, health and hygiene. All data right from procurement, in-site manufacturing and supply chain are extremely important to be monitored and Coding and marking-barcodes/RFID and AIDC are helpful tools in this direction.
Uflex Ltd has been offering food packaging solutions for more than two decades now. The company offers packaging materials for food products made out if BOPET (Biaxially Oriented Polytthylene Terapthalate), BOPP (Biaxially Oriented Polypropylene) and CPP (Cast Polypropylene) films. The manufacturing of these products are in strict adherence to the international standards and norms. Flexible packaging at Uflex is known for excellent chemical resistance, strength, protection against moisture and odour and dimensional stability.

Sustainability:

Flexible packaging greatly reduces landfill discards. Innovation and technology have enabled flexible packaging manufacturers to use fewer natural resources in the creation of their packaging, and improvements in production processes have reduced water and energy consumption, greenhouse gas emissions and volatile organic compounds.
Flexible packaging is gaining market share from other packaging formats such as rigid packaging. This growth is projected to continue because flexible packaging, particularly pouch packaging, uses less energy and materials and has lower transport costs, environmental impact due to less carbon footprint than its rigid counterparts.

Key Issues of the industry:
In tougher economic times, pressure is on packaging. Undoubtedly keeping costs low is key in many areas, but other market drivers also create opportunities for new formats and innovation and knowing these is key to developing and offering further value, helping counter some of the economic pressures.
While the industry believes cost is key, the consensus is that impulse and convenience driven categories (such as confectionery and prepared meals) offer the greatest opportunities. The industry needs to effectively target these areas to combat the relentless focus on costs elsewhere.
Issues in Vacuum Packaging: Some pathogenic (illness-causing) bacteria grow in low-oxygen environments and reproduce well in vacuum-packaged foods. Therefore, do not store vacuum packaged moist foods at room temperature. Vacuum packaged foods need to be stored in the refrigerator or the freezer to remain safe.
Dairy Food, Bakery and Cereals, and Meat are the key Food sectors, while Asia will overtake Western Europe as the most valuable regional Food market. Packaging innovations in these areas, such as improvements in the oxygen barrier for milk bags in India, should be a focus for packaging companies. (F&B Q&A)

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