Packaging Trends: Pouches Becoming Go-To Package Style For Broad Range of Products

They're not always recyclable but pouched food can be green in other ways.

By Kate Bertrand Connolly, Packaging Editor

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The pouch is an unusual package for protein shots, in terms of both format and size. The one-gallon size offers regular users of the product an economical way to buy Sunkist Protein in bulk, for daily use. It's also handy for nursing homes and other facilities that buy protein shots for the use of their residents. 

Sunkist Protein products are manufactured by Protica Inc. in partnership with BioBev LLC, both based in Whitehall, Pa. BioBev is a trademark licensee of Sunkist Growers Inc., Sherman Oaks, Calif.

Although hot-filled products such as Sunkist Protein typically must be refrigerated after opening, the dispenser on the one-gallon pouch makes refrigeration unnecessary. The dispenser eliminates backflow, protecting against bacterial contamination that could affect flavor and food safety.

International Dispensing Corporation, New York, supplies the dispenser, which is called The Answer. Fres-co System USA Inc., Telford, Pa., produces the pre-made Sunkist Protein pouches.

In selecting a package format for the multi-serving protein shots, "We considered bag-in-box, Bettix [dispensing] bottles and other mainstream formats," says Jim Duffy, Protica's president. "The Answer was the reason we decided to use the stand-up pouch. It was the ideal fit to provide shelf stability for the full life cycle of the product."

Duffy adds that consumers "‘get' the value … they love the ability to take the pouch anywhere and never worry about refrigeration." Three die-cut finger holes at the top of the pouch provide a carrying handle.

The Zip360 has a zipper that goes all the way around the rectangular opening. It was introduced at last year's Pack Expo by Zip-Pak, in collaboration with Printpack Inc. and Triangle Package Machinery Co.

Greg Abbott, founder and chief executive officer of IDC, adds that the pouch "gets lighter and smaller as you roll it up. It's a very interactive package. In the end you can squeeze every last drop out, and you have this little piece of plastic."

Abbott adds that the pouch is "much more desirable" environmentally than a one-gallon plastic jug or individual bottles. "If you compare [the pouch] to several single-serve packages, you use far less packaging material per pouch, there's less energy in the production of the whole package and there's dramatically less landfill."

All that and a bag of chips

For certain foods, such as potato chips and brown sugar, the value of a resealable pouch that provides easy product access and dispensing is a no-brainer. But historically, a pouch that provides all three features has been elusive.

A new package format — a side-gusset, wide-mouth pouch with a zipper that goes all the way around the opening — addresses the need. Dubbed the Zip360, the pouch stands up and has a large enough opening to eat from or dip a measuring scoop into. When closed halfway, the zipper creates a pour spout.

The Zip360 was developed by Zip-Pak, Manteno, Ill., in collaboration with Atlanta-based Printpack Inc. and Chicago-based Triangle Package Machinery Co.

"It's so functional for many different markets," says Elizabeth Sheaffer, marketing manager at Zip-Pak. In addition to chips and sugar, potential applications include cereal, meat snacks, crackers, cookies, pretzels and frozen foods.

Depending on the product, there are "different pain points that consumers are trying to solve with their packaging. You could use this to alleviate some of those concerns," such as product freshness and accessibility, Sheaffer adds.

In addition to functionality, the package format provides ample space for messaging, and the brand stays in front of consumers longer because they don't need to transfer the product to another container.

Consumer packaged goods companies and consumers alike have been asking for this type of package, Sheaffer says: "Across all of our focus groups and all of our discussions with CPGs, it just seems like this is the package that everyone has been wanting and looking for."

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