By Tom Szaky in Flexible Packaging on September 23, 2016
In a fast-paced world where convenience is currency, a continuing prominent trend in product packaging is the use of flexible plastic pouches. More consumers are choosing pouches over traditional glass, paper and metal packaging, and even rigid plastics, as global market demand is projected to rise 6.2% annually to $37.3 billion in 2018. Food is the largest and most developed market for pouch use due in great part to rising output and consumption rates worldwide. Pharma/medical and beverage are the second and third largest markets, respectively.
Japan is a country that has long been ahead of the pouch packaging trend, as urbanization and a fast-paced lifestyle keep space and time at a premium in Japanese cities. The heat-resistant boil-in-a-bag (later microwavable) food delivery model addressed lifestyle needs of Japanese consumers as far back as in the 1970s, when more women were entering the workforce and convenience was compulsory. Today, Japanese pouch-meals and pre-cut single-serving vegetables and meats respond to Japan’s aging population of elders who live alone (27% are 65 or older), pioneering innovation in the consumer retail experience.
Here in the U.S., consumer lifestyle trends demand increasingly convenience and portability of product, particularly in the food sector. Ease of use at home and on the go have become a requisite for driving the purchase of consumer foods. This is particularly true for Millennials, who represent about a fourth of the entire U.S. population with $200 billion in annual buying power; significantly, one in four Millennials are now parents, which not only compounds the demand for convenience, but their influence on future consumers (their children) and older generations (their parents). With less time to spare and more options than ever, consumers cite convenience as a consumer need that is increasingly addressed by the innovations offered by pouch packaging.