The role of packaging is highlighted by its capability to preserve a product and trigger a sale. Flexible packaging is gaining ground in the field of primary packaging. Advancements in material science have allowed manufacturers to better create flexible packaging materials for the food and beverage industry. Today, flexible packaging companies are bringing pouches, foils, and films to the market on an unprecedented scale. (Source: Flexible packaging procurement market intelligence report). New product designs in the flexible packaging industry aim at minimizing waste, reducing costs, attracting customers, and maintaining the freshness and condition of your products on the store shelves. But keeping that aside, flexible packaging companies do have to endure various difficulties in their operations. Here are some of the key challenges faced by companies in the flexible packaging industry:
Rise in costs: this includes paper plastic resins and adhesives
Some of the common raw materials used by flexible packaging companies include paper, plastic, resins, films, paperboard, and adhesives. In recent times, the flexible packaging industry has witnessed a steep rise in the prices of these raw materials. Also, the prices for polypropylene, used in resins, bottles, and packaging films have been on the rise due to reduced supply. This situation has affected the competitiveness of companies in the flexible packaging industry
Rapidly changing technology is a constant challenge
CPG companies are on a constant lookout for ways to cater to consumers’ demands and improve their offerings. They tend to rely on flexible packaging companies to innovate their offerings and attract more customers to the retail shelf. But, players in the flexible packaging industry often find it difficult to keep pace with these fast-changing demands. Furthermore, flexible packaging companies will also have to make constant technology upgrades to meet these demands, which would require huge capital investments.
Sustainability challenges: use of organic or sustainable materials
The flexible packaging industry has been facing flak from governmental organizations, consumers, and environmental groups due to the wastage created by the companies in this sector. Most of the materials used are often non-recyclable. To prevent themselves from being flagged by various stakeholders, flexible packaging companies have to account for designs that address environmental issues, end-of-life disposal, and reduction of greenhouse gas and water footprints. This could prove to be a costly process.
Perishability of contents: a challenge
Flexible packaging companies not only have the pressure to innovate in their offerings but at the same time must also ensure that their products are designed to protect the packaged contents from the external environment. Choosing a packaging material that can survive factors such as sunlight, UV rays, high and low temperature, humidity, moisture, and rain is a herculean task. Also, the environmental conditions vary from region to region. Hence, to design and implement a packaging material that meets all these parameters is most likely to put flexible packaging companies in a big dilemma.
Benefits of flexible packaging
Flexible packaging is an effective way to safeguard the contents from external factors like moisture, light, and air. These elements can cause degradation in the quality and shelf life of products. By providing protection, the packaging helps retain the freshness and integrity of food and other sensitive items, thereby reducing waste and ensuring longer shelf life.
Flexible packaging is generally lighter and uses less material than rigid packaging, resulting in reduced transportation costs and environmental impact. It also allows for efficient storage, as it can adapt to the shape of the product, resulting in less wasted space.
Versatility and Convenience:
Flexible packaging is a versatile option that can be customized to fit different product shapes and sizes. It often comes with resealable features, making it convenient for consumers to use and reseal, which is particularly advantageous for snacks and consumer goods. Moreover, its design flexibility allows for captivating branding and marketing opportunities.
Modern packaging trends
Sustainability and Eco-Friendly Materials:
As environmental awareness increases, there is a growing shift towards using eco-friendly and recyclable materials in packaging, which includes biodegradable plastics, compostable packaging, and an emphasis on reducing plastic waste. A more recent development in sustainable packaging films is the utilization of PCR content in the film structure’s polyethylene and/or polyester components which causes negligible harm to the environment.
The use of technology in packaging is becoming increasingly popular. This includes the implementation of QR codes for tracking and authenticity verification, interactive packaging that engages consumers through augmented reality or QR code scanning, and the introduction of smart sensors to monitor product freshness and prevent tampering.
Personalization and Customization:
Brands are using digital printing and variable data printing to create personalized packaging for customers, which can enhance customer engagement and loyalty. For products sensitive to spoilage, oxidation, or other degradation reactions, the right film is key to achieving optimal shelf life. The right packaging material can even block UV rays.