Tarun Manroa, evp and general manager, engineered materials division, Berry Global, a Fortune 500 global manufacturer and marketer of plastic packaging products, including pouches.
What top trends are you seeing in flexible packaging and why? What are the drivers?
Manroa: We see five top trends:
1. Continued pressure to reduce packaging cost. Consumers moving away from more processed, carb-rich foods are driving a shortfall in sales for packaging of those products. Food companies are responding with cost savings and new product introductions. We have seen an increase in gauge reduction, lower cost materials and margin pressure. We also see a reduced demand for legacy large packaging format products as consumer demand shifts to private label offerings in smaller package formats.
2. Market push for cleaner labels with more recognizable ingredients. This means an increased pressure to improve package performance to protect these new foods, eliminating the need for food preservatives, while still meeting cost targets.
3. Rigid to flexible conversion. We have seen a continued growth in stand-up pouches as a replacement for rigid containers to reduce material content.
4. Ecommerce growth. We have also noticed the shift from retail shopping to online shopping, driving the need for home deliveries.
5. Sustainability. This includes source reduction, down-gauging, recyclability and the use of renewable source materials.
What challenges is the flexible packaging market encountering now and how are they being addressed?
Manroa: Recycling is a challenge for all manufacturers of flexible packaging. We have seen a desire to move to packages made with homogenous material while maintaining product packaging requirements. Material and equipment suppliers are also experiencing this pressure and are working to develop technical solutions.
Changing demographics are driving a change in consumer demand for increased product choices, fresher products with less preservatives, smaller package sizes—all with better consumer convenience. We are constantly working with material and equipment suppliers to utilize technology to reduce costs for shorter run quantities and meet these challenges.
This same change in demographics is reducing sales for mega-brands, thus driving the need for consumer packaged goods companies (CPGs) to reduce product/packaging costs. We are meeting these changes through creative material substitutions and down-gauging.
As the market changes, new equipment must be flexible and meet these ongoing needs.
Where do you see the biggest growth for flexible packaging moving forward and why?
Manroa: We are keeping a pulse on the shift in consumer demand from retail to online purchasing and home delivery. These have the potential to increase the total packaging material content/product.
Another growth area is material conversion, specifically replacing paper with plastic.
And we see flexible packaging growing in popularity and acceptance when compared to rigid packaging.
What, if anything, is different about the sustainability message of flexible packaging today versus, say, two or three years ago?
Manroa: Sustainability positions of CPGs, large retailers and other large companies are becoming formalized with clearer objectives.
And the industry has a better understanding of the complexity, environmental impact and need for change.
Packaging solutions come to Minneapolis: As part of the region’s largest advanced design and manufacturing event, MinnPack 2018—and the five related shows taking place alongside it—brings 500+ suppliers, 5,000+ peers and 60+ hours of education together under one roof. Register for free today.