Food packaging predicament: flexible or rigid?

Food packaging predicament: flexible or rigid?

Veritiv Packaging | August 22, 2019

Flexible packaging is a fast growing packaging trend, but is flexible or rigid packaging right for your product and channel strategies? According to Jim Wynne, Director of Food Solutions with Veritiv, the answer may be both.

Today’s consumers are showing greater concern about health and wellness, driving them to not only buy different foods, but also change the way they buy and consume food products. These concerns have led to a growing demand for flexible packaging since it tends to be more portable and portioned, which can improve product shelf life and reduce overall food waste.

However, Wynne explains that both formats have unique benefits.

Flexible packaging can offer improved production and supply chain efficiencies. It is also seen by many brand owners as providing greater versatility in pack-out options, all to meet the unique distribution challenges for an expanding universe of food retailers and food service operators.

Flexible materials offer the ability to showcase the product inside and utilize package geometry to more fully leverage graphics that may attract more impulse buyers.

Offering optimal product protection and security, rigid packaging has been the traditional choice for many types of beverages and center-of-the-store food products. Consumers have grown accustomed to the reliability of this package format and generally view rigid packaging as more recyclable, which can greatly influence buying behavior.

The best of both worlds
Flexible packaging is very popular and offers unique advantages, but Wynne says he expects to see more food brands using hybrid solutions. These solutions utilize a mix of flexible and rigid packaging materials in the same pack to streamline channel strategies and address
changing consumer behavior.

Semi-rigid packaging is another option that bridges the need for product protection with product differentiation. By using complementary materials, brand owners can reduce supply chain costs and benefit from improved shelf presence, attracting new consumers in evolving retail environments. A good example of this is inline thermoforming, where one portion of the package might be constructed from a clear resin-based material and the other from a printed-fiber material. One component acts to convey freshness through package clarity; the other may be printed to convey a compelling brand narrative, while still providing excellent shelf life performance.

Though many brands feel they have to choose one type of packaging, Wynne suggests the best solution is sometimes a mix. By balancing what consumers want and where they shop with the total operational costs of each format, your company can evaluate whether flexible, rigid, or semi-rigid packaging is the right solution for your food products.


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