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Flexible packages are in it to win it

Flexible packages are in it to win it
Schwan's Soft Serve Ice Cream spouted pouch

On Tues., March 4, 2014, the Flexible Packaging Assn. presented its 2014 Flexible Packaging Achievement Awards. Winners raise the bar for convenience, sustainability and shelf appeal.

The best pouches, bags and flexible packages of every kind are once again brought front and center with the Flexible Packaging Assn.’s annual Flexible Packaging Achievement Awards competition.

This year, 81 packages competed in the competition. Entrants’ innovations targeted consumer trends, sustainability and technical breakthroughs. The judges recognized 22 packages with 26 awards in four categories: Packaging Excellence, Printing Achievement, Technical Innovation and Sustainability & Environmental Achievement.

‘Magic’ pouch combines clarity with foil-like barrier
Winning top honors this year was the Model Magic clear barrier overwrap package, which Rollprint Packaging Products Inc. created for a Crayola modeling compound.

In addition to receiving the Highest Achievement Award—which is presented to the Gold Award winner that, in the judges’ view, contributed most to advancing the flexible packaging industry—the package won a Gold Award for Packaging Excellence and a Gold Award for Technical Innovation.

The material used to create the 4-oz, flow-wrap pouch incorporates Rollprint’s ClearFoil Z film, which provides extremely high clarity plus moisture barrier comparable to aluminum foil. The film “provides barrier properties 100 times better than those found with other non-foil structures,” says Dhuanne Dodrill, president of Rollprint. This was essential to keep the air-sensitive product from drying out.

The package offers merchandising benefits, as well. A large round window on the front of the reverse-printed pouch displays the product, which comes in a range of bright colors. In contrast, the product’s old package, which used aluminum foil for barrier, had no windows.

“In addition to not being able to see the vivid colors of Model Magic, the foil package would also wrinkle when handled. Because consumers enjoy squeezing the modeling compound when it’s still on the shelf, the packages could look ‘beat up’ while still on the shelf,” Dodrill says. In contrast, the new package remains crisp looking throughout distribution and display.

Rollprint Packaging Products Inc., 800-276-7629800-276-7629

We all scream for ice cream…in a soft-serve dispenser pouch
Schwan’s Soft Serve Ice Cream pouch, which makes it possible for consumers to enjoy soft-serve ice cream without leaving home, won a Gold Award for Packaging Excellence.

The dispensed ice cream even looks like it came from an ice-cream parlor, thanks to a specially engineered fitment. “The fitment is a custom design that allows the consumer to have the ‘soft-serve’ experience at home by being able to produce the signature swirl that is associated with soft-serve ice cream,” explains Jane Chase, senior director of packaging engineering at The Schwan Food Co.

Schwan designed the package’s graphics in-house and worked with Ampac to develop the pouch’s structure. The package is made from a proprietary, laminated, multilayer material and printed via rotogravure in six colors. The pre-made pouches, which do not have a gusset, were designed for filling on existing equipment.

Because the pouch is shaped like an ice-cream cone, it is comfortable to hold and squeeze—so it’s easy to eat directly from the pouch or swirl the ice cream into a cone. The package also has a screw cap for easy storage of leftover product.

Unlike conventional retail products, Schwan’s Soft Serve Ice Cream is sold via the brand owner’s home-delivery truck system. The product is available in two flavors, vanilla and chocolate.

Ampac, 513-671-1777513-671-1777

Bonfire Wines heats things up with a barrel-shaped pouch
The Bonfire Wines stand-up pouch took home a Gold Award for Packaging Excellence. Ignite white wine and Ember red wine blends are sold in the tapered 1.5-liter package, which is stylish, convenient and eco-friendly.

The pouch has die-cut handles for easy handling. It is also easy to open and features one-touch dispensing via a built-in tap. After opening, the package protects the wine’s flavor profile for up to four weeks.

Further, the Bonfire pouch weighs substantially less than glass packaging, requires less energy to produce and less fuel to transport. The pouch’s carbon footprint is 80 percent smaller than a comparable glass bottle, calculated over the life cycle of the package.

With an OPET outer layer, metallized-polyester core layer and Curwood Inc.’s Liquiflex Advance film as the product-contact layer, the film structure provides required strength and stiffness as well as the barrier and organoleptic properties needed to protect wine. The film also provides an excellent surface for printing.
Curwood laminates and prints the rollstock film, which Pouch Converting Technologies Inc. converts into pouches.

The biggest challenges of developing a liquid stand-up pouch of this size were “developing a customized laminate film substrate with balanced stiffness properties to convert on industry pouching equipment—which would also present well on retail store shelves and have the strength and durability to survive the rigors of distribution,” says Jon Pietsch, market manager for liquid packaging at Curwood.

Curwood Inc., A Bemis Co., 920-527-7300920-527-7300
Pouch Converting Technologies Inc., 262-670-9200262-670-9200

Refill pouch offers ease of use and sustainability benefits
Winning a Gold Award for Packaging Excellence, the Flowpack refill pouch for Herbal Essences products combines consumer convenience with environmental friendliness. The colorful stand-up pouch, which is distributed throughout Japan, holds 340g of conditioner.

The pouch is made from a nylon/vacuum-metallized PET/polyethylene film that is rotogravure printed in eight colors. Fujimori Kogyo Co. Ltd. supplies the printed pouches and is represented in the U.S. by Zacros America.

Designed as a single-use refill pack, the Flowpack pouch includes easy-open/pour features. At the upper left corner of the pouch is a laser-scored tab that the consumer tears off to access a pouring spout.

“This spout is integrated into the pouch and ensures accurate product flow, and [it] is fused to the inside so it will not fall out,” explains Yuji Toda, a marketing manager for Fujimori Kogyo. “Above the spout is the laser-scored tear line, and above that is an area of film with a texturized gripping surface. The laser score allows the consumer to simply tear off the film above the spout by hand for a clean, no-mess opening experience.”

From a sustainability perspective, the package stacks up well against rigid packages. Specifically, the pouch is 75 percent lighter, produces about one-sixth the carbon dioxide emissions and, when empty, takes up significantly less space than a rigid container of the same volume.

The Flowpack pouch even offers environmental benefits vs other spouted pouches; it does not use a rigid-plastic closure, so overall plastic consumption is less.

Fujimori Kogyo Co. Ltd., Dist. By Zacros America, Inc. 847-397-6191847-397-6191

Ghostly technology combats counterfeiters
The judges recognized Ghost technology, which fights counterfeiting by embedding a watermark-like identifier in flexible packaging materials, with a Gold Award for Technical Innovation. Rollprint Packaging Products Inc. invented the technology and is the exclusive supplier of Ghost watermarked films.

The repeating watermark, which is actually an optical effect, is added by cooling the extrudate differentially during film manufacturing. The technique produces sharp images and crisp type down to 4-point size, and the effect is visible to the naked eye.

No additives are required to create the watermark effect, and it can be added with little extra cost to the brand owner. It’s also enormously difficult for counterfeiters to duplicate. A variety of composite constructions, including transparent films and foil structures, are compatible with the technology.

“Ghost is appropriate for any product that is at risk for counterfeiting and that is packaged in a flexible or semi-rigid package or uses a tray with a flexible lid,” says Dhuanne Dodrill, president of Rollprint. These include pharmaceuticals, medical devices, electronic components, collectables, documents and jewelry.

Rollprint Packaging Products Inc., 800-276-7629800-276-7629

‘Steam dome’ pouch makes microwaved burgers easy—and delicious
The Hillshire Brands Heat Fresh Pouch, developed jointly by Hillshire Brands and Curwood Inc., won a Gold Award for Technical Innovation.

The package comprises a coextruded, nylon-based forming film paired with a non-forming film that is a two-ply extrusion lamination of cellulose and polypropylene. Curwood supplies the forming and non-forming films for the package, which can run on any horizontal form/fill/seal machine.

The pouch, in which Hillshire Brands packages its frozen Ball Park hamburgers and cheeseburgers, provides the convenience of in-pack cooking plus “a much better microwaved product,” says John Kearny, a Curwood market manager for national accounts.

Kearny explains that during microwave cooking, the package creates a “steam dome” that heats sandwiches evenly without making bread soggy or chewy. It’s an easy, one-step process for the consumer, who simply places the package in the microwave and walks away until the timer goes off. The pouch peels open easily after cooking.

During microwaving, moisture inside the pouch rises to the top of the package and then runs down the sides of the forming film to the non-forming film on bottom, which absorbs the moisture. The package also allows steam to vent.

Curwood Inc., A Bemis Co., 920-527-7300920-527-7300

Lego pouch balances on-shelf, consumer and eco benefits
A Gold Award for Sustainability & Environmental Achievement went to the Lego Hero Factory shaped stand-up pouch with reclosing feature. The reusable package, from Sonoco, represents a new package format in the toy category. In addition to its eco benefits, the brightly printed pouch provides shelf appeal, easy reclosability for little hands and convenient product storage.

The pouch is shaped like the toy it contains and is rotogravure printed in bright colors on high-gloss film, creating a splashy brand billboard. The film structure is PET/inks/adhesive/LLDPE.

After the consumer cuts off the top of the pouch, the package’s press-to-close feature makes it easy to access the product—and to reclose the package when play time is finished and the product is back in the pouch.

Sonoco used the Packaging Impact Quick Evaluation Tool (PIQET) tool to evaluate the pouch and found that it reduces carbon footprint 64.6 percent vs a cardboard box and 91.4 percent vs a plastic canister. In addition, the pouch weighs 80 percent less than those package formats.

The brand owner enjoyed a one-stop shop for this project: Sonoco printed and laminated the rollstock, created the package’s structural design and graphics and performed color separation, cylinder engraving, pouch converting and even pouch filling.

Sonoco, 800-377-2692800-377-2692

Woven poly bag for dog food uses zipper and pinch seal
The Natural Life pinch/slider woven poly bag from cei (Coating Excellence Intl.) took home two Gold Awards, one for Packaging Excellence and another for Technical Innovation. The large-format bag, which holds 17.5 pounds of dry dog food, improves product protection, convenience and brand image vs competitive package formats.

According to cei, the bag is the first commercial woven poly bag to be pinch sealed (at the bottom) and have a reclosable slider zipper (at the top). The bags are made from multilayer film with an outer layer of OPP.

To overcome a key limitation of conventional, non-heat-sealable woven poly bags—which require a sewn or roll-fold-tape end—cei developed a heat-seal adhesive for the pinch seal on the Natural Life bag and also found an adhesive compatible with the slider zipper and OPP film. The bag manufacturer developed equipment to attach the zipper to the bag, as well.

The easy-to-open/reclose bag keeps the kibble fresh and addresses consumers’ top complaint about bulk bags of pet food, namely the need to transfer the product to a reclosable container.

The scuff-resistant, reverse-printed Natural Life bag displays better than multiwall paper bags. And because it is more durable than paper, product damage and contamination are reduced.

cei (Coating Excellence Intl.), 920-996-1900920-996-1900

Agricultural pack uses print effects for brand differentiation
Winning a Gold Award for Printing Achievement, the Starthene Power insecticide package from Paharpur 3P uses an eye-catching combination of matte and gloss printing.

The film used for the package is PET/adhesive/aluminum foil/adhesive/PE that’s reverse-printed in eight colors via rotogravure using polyurethane-based inks and surface matte coating.

“This is a retail pack and is being sold in special retail outlets called Farmer Resource Centers in India,” says Debarshi Ray, head-quality assurance and process improvement, Paharpur 3P. Ray adds that the package “serves the purpose of attracting consumers as well as giving a premium feel to the product.”

The package stands out from competitive products at retail because it’s the only one printed with both matte and gloss effects. Paharpur 3P chose a matte coating with maximum haze to create a paper-like look for the package.

Spot lamination of package graphics, including the eyes of the tiger and the lion image, “enhance the appearance and catch [consumers’] attention while improving its aesthetic look,” says Vijay Kumar Bhatt, business head with Starthene brand owner SWAL Corp. Ltd. The brand name also is spotted in gloss.

Bhatt adds that the Starthene package is “quite distinctive…compared to competitor packaging” thanks to the registered matte coating and spot lamination. The package comes in four sizes, with fill weights from 100g to 1kg.

Paharpur 3P, +91 120-4389-100+91 120-4389-100

Animated character changes color on interactive yogurt pack
The Yoplait Go-Gurt “Despicable Me 2” pouch, with color-shifting graphics, won a Gold Award for Printing Achievement. Converter Printpack Inc. worked with ink supplier Segan Industries Inc. to develop the package, which is printed with thermochromatic inks.

Designed to appeal to kids, the package piggy-backed on the release of Pixar’s “Despicable Me 2” movie. Graphics on the stick pack feature a minion character from the film. When the product is refrigerated, the minion is purple. But as the package warms up in the consumer’s hand, the minion turns yellow.

The interactive package required three thermochromatic-ink colors: red and blue, to make purple, plus yellow. Significantly, the ink formula is formaldehyde-free, so the ink can contact food without contaminating it. The pouch material is polyester with a polyethylene extrudate sealant film.

According to Printpack, the pouch is the first flexible package to be printed with non-formaldehyde thermochromatic inks.

Printpack Inc., 404-460-7000404-460-7000
Segan Industries Inc., 650-777-4200650-777-4200

Kate Bertrand Connolly is a seasoned freelance writer based in the San Francisco area covering the packaging, food and technology markets. You can contact her at

2014 Flexible Packaging Achievement Awards: Silver Winners
Read descriptions of the Silver Award winners at the FPA website:

Ajanta Paneer
Manufacturer: Paharpur 3P
Silver Award: Packaging Excellence

Amcor’s StayClean
Manufacturer: Amcor Flexibles, 800-447-0049800-447-0049,
Silver Award: Technical Innovation

Bonfire Wines Stand-up Pouch
Manufacturer: Curwood Inc., a Bemis Co.
Silver Award: Sustainability & Environmental Achievement

Cascadian Farm Cereal Liner
Manufacturer: Printpack Inc.
Silver Award: Sustainability & Environmental Achievement

Chocolates Rellenos Britt
Manufacturer: Peruplast S.A.. +511 630-8800,
Silver Award: Printing Achievement

Crystal Light Mocktails
Manufacturer: Printpack Inc.
Silver Award: Printing Achievement

EcoFlex 99 Fountain Beverage Bag
Manufacturer: Liqui-Box Corp., 800-260-4376800-260-4376,
Silver Award: Technical Innovation

Ghost Technology
Manufacturer: Rollprint Packaging Products Inc.
Silver Award: Packaging Excellence

Lehar Snack Food Pouch
Manufacturer: Flex America Inc., 281-580-4200281-580-4200,
Silver Award: Sustainability & Environmental Achievement

Novel Nine-layer Film for Dry Food Packaging
Manufacturer: Berry Plastics Corp., 812-424-2904812-424-2904,
Silver Award: Technical Innovation

S.C. Johnson Glade PlugIns Winter Collection
Manufacturer: American Packaging Corp., 585-254-9500585-254-9500,
Silver Award: Printing Achievement

Tide Detergent Pouch
Manufacturer: Flex America Inc.
Silver Award: Technical Innovation

Qrill Meat 20-kg Bag
Manufacturer: Flex America Inc.
Silver Award: Packaging Excellence

Whiskas Carne 500g
Manufacturer: Printpack Inc.
Silver Award: Printing Achievement

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