Flexible vs. Rigid Packaging


Flexible vs. Rigid Packaging

While consumers still see many tin cans, cardboard boxes and glass jars on grocery store shelves, the evolution of the packaging industry now includes various types of flexible options.  Visit any local store and you will notice that pouches and bags have replaced some of the traditional rigid packaging selections.  Products such as soups, sauces, and baby food that have historically used tin cans or glass jars to package their product have now switched to pouches, some with spouted and closure options for consumer convenience.

Why have manufacturers chosen to switch to flexible packaging alternatives?  Although traditional types of packaging still have practical applications, flexible packaging offers advantages to many within the supply chain:


One of the biggest advantages for the manufacturer and retailer is the reduced weight of the packaging, which can result in reduced shipping and warehousing costs while creating more space on store shelves.  In soup, for example, tin cans represent 40% of the total packaging of the product; new flexible options can reduce this number to 4% while also reducing the total weight. 

To illustrate the space savings, one truckload of flat pouches often equals between 15-25 truckloads of empty rigid containers.  In a specific example, a Flair customer recently transitioned to a pouch from a glass jar, decreasing their weight by nearly 95% (9.5 oz. empty glass jar and lid vs. 0.5 oz. empty pouch).  The customer stated, “We’ve saved a lot in shipping costs alone and the pouches are recyclable in most states.”

With the flexible packaging market currently estimated at nearly $17 billion in the U.S. and growing at three percent annually, we expect to see more products trend towards flexible packaging as a result of all the benefits it provides.

Resources:

  •  “Packaging with punch” Grocery Headquarters Magazine - March 1, 2014
  •  “Trends in Flexible Packaging” Packaging World - October 18, 2013
  • “Losing the rigid ways” Food & Beverage Packaging - May 16, 2014
  • “Fast-Growing Flexible is the Future: Global Pouch Forum Shows the Way” Flexible Packaging - May 1, 2014