The stand-up pouch has been around for many years but growth has recently been spectacular. This increasingly popular pack format can now be found across a broad range of food and non-food applications, making life convenient for consumers and helping to reduce packaging waste.
When launching a new product or revamping an existing line, consumer goods companies choose pouches for a number of reasons. From a marketing standpoint, stand-up pouches provides an excellent billboard for branding, either using printed substrates or self-adhesive labels on plain film. Sustainability is another role player – based on weight, packaging as a percentage of the product is a mere 6% for a pouch. This low packaging-to-produce-weight ratio translates into a low carbon footprint.
A recent PCI report (2011) on the European market for stand-up pouches identifies annual demand of around 18,6 billion units, valued at around €575-million.
It’s one of the most dynamic sectors within the European flexible packaging market showing, annual growth of almost 14% in recent years, with demand expected to grow by 9,1% over the next five years.
In Europe, retortable pet food pouches account for 20% of the laminate volume used but volumes in human retorted food pouches are the fastest growing. At the fillers, stand-up pouch usage is split evenly between pre-made pouches and laminate material used on form-fill-seal packing machinery.
In South Africa no specific stats are available for stand-up pouch sales (neither volumes nor values). However, most mainstream flexible packaging converters are involved in either laminate production or the supply of pre-made pouches; and we’re seeing a growing number of specialist producers of stand-up pouches (primarily based in Cape Town!).
Playing a key role here are Saflite (Astrapak) and Nampak Flexible – between them holding the lion’s share of the market, but with other Cape-based players – for instance, Pouch Dynamics, Foster Packaging, CTP flexibles, Prac-Pak and Kangopak – snapping at their heels. In Johannesburg,9 Trempak and CLP offer stand-up pouches, and in Durban the principal supplier is Packaging World.
It’s all about spouts.
The stand-up pouch continues to gain market share thanks to breakthroughs in material compositions, printing techniques and the growing use of fitments to enhance consumer convenience, such as zippers, built-in straws and – increasingly – spouts.
Adding to the growing popularity of stand-up pouches are cost reduction issues through savings on packaging materials and improved transportation logistics compared to traditional rigid packaging forms. Growth in stand-up pouches continues to run into double digits – bucking general economic trends – largely thanks to these features. However, aside from cost savings, this innovative packaging format provides fresh marketing strategies for new product launches and clever ways to reinvent mature brands.
There’s no doubt that Cape Town-based Pouch Dynamics counts among frontrunners in the stand-up pouch market.
Last year’s investment in a multi-format pouchmaker boosted output to above the seven-million pouches/ month mark (PPM Aug11, p92).
Constantly studying market trends, Heinz Pospech, the company’s founder, noted the ever-growing popularity of pouches with spouts, particularly where they’re used as refill packs. Such pouches, Heinz emphasises, are generally double the size of the original pack to be refilled and increasingly used for detergents, toiletries, shampoos, liquid hand soaps, and similar products.
Kangopak moves to spouts.
It’s less than a year since we reported the establishment of Kangopak, a start-up pouchmaking facility in Diep River, Cape Town (PPM Aug11, p89). Since then, the company has expanded from a single to a double shift, has doubled the number of employees to four admin staff and four operators (two per shift), is moving fast towards BRC accreditation, and is experiencing burgeoning sales, not only within South Africa but to other African countries. It’s good to hear such an entrepreneurial success story!
Kangopak is headed by Clive Schlachter (who in an earlier life was part of the team at Kohler Flexible Packaging in Pinetown), aided by his wife Lyndsay (who handles internal sales and logistics) and their son Michael (who, with a BCom Accounting degree, ably handles operational and financial management). A recent addition to the team is Allan Marais as sales representative.
The latest news from this go-ahead family concern is access to a fully-automatic spout-insertion line that operates at 30 spouts/min. The line has undergone all the necessary pre-commissioning trials and is already producing spouted pouches for Kangopak’s growing list of customers.
‘We’re experiencing strong growth in sales of pouches fitted with spouts,’ Clive insists, ‘particularly for products such as fabric softeners, catering packs and portion control packs.’.
‘While we focus on stand-up and spout pouches,’ he continues, ‘we also produce three-side seal pouches and quad-seal pouches.’.
Particularly exciting is the pouch-maker’s double unwind station which allows the production of pouches with metallised backs and clear fronts. The machine also includes a zipper inserter, tear-nick, euro slot and rounded corner capabilities.
Move towards BRC.
Another noteworthy development in its one-year history has been Kangopak’s steady journey towards BRC certification, with a final audit expected in August. The process has been facilitated by Wareham & Associates. ‘It’s been hectic and time consuming,’ remarks Clive, ‘but it’s a vital move. We have also undertaken HACCP and traceability studies, as these are increasingly demanded by our customers.’.
According to Clive and his son, Michael, several things set Kangopak apart from competitors.
‘We offer a very short lead time – between two and three weeks,’ Clive maintains. ‘But also important is the service we offer regular customers by holding stock for them.
Michael, whose duties include production, procurement of material, planning and accounting, and who has been at the sharp end of the BRC programme (in conjunction with Wareham & Associates), takes up the story. ‘We bend over backwards to help our customers. In the past the pouch market has been supplier oriented but we’re changing that to a strict customer orientated approach. Whether it’s price, quality or lead time, we’re here to satisfy customer needs. That’s our priority,’ Michael asserts.
Kangopak focuses on the production of unprinted pouches to which brand owners or retailers can apply a self-adhesive label for decorative and information purposes. That accounts for around 80% of Kangopak’s business. However, an objective for this year is to start working with printers to offer printed pouches.
Doubtless there’ll be further news from Kangopak in the months ahead, as the company forges steadily ahead in the pouch market.
Pouch perfection with Mamata.
Owned and managed by Graham Finke, Trempak Trading provides flexible films and packaging machinery to multinational blue-chip brand owners plus a host of independent customers. The company is also a major converter of anti-fog bags, coextruded vacuum bags, speciality highbarrier and metallised pre-made bags and standup pouches, the latter primarily for food and salad markets, and home care products.
At Trempak, printed and non-printed films are transformed into this wide variety of pouches on two Mamata Vega pouch-makers, supplied by Mamata’s local representative, Paul Clark of Adex Plastics & Machinery.
Graham is frank about why he has always chosen Mamata machinery for his conversion requirements. ‘We purchased our first Mamata single-web machine over ten years ago and it’s a real workhorse. It has met our processing needs without any technical hitches and when we were ready to reinvest in more advanced equipment we turned to Paul for expert equipment advice.’.
At the beginning of last year, Trempak took delivery of a versatile Mamata Vega 610 Plus servo-driven pouch-maker. Designed for optimum processing flexibility, Vega pouch-makers cater for every pouch-making need, coping effortlessly with high-speed production – whether for supported films (laminates) or coextruded films.
The latest Mamata machine at Trempak handles a myriad different pouch types – from three-side and five-side seal pouches to zipper, stand-up and selfgusseted pouches. Importantly, it also handles multiple web-registered pouches on a single platform.
Graham is happy to confirm that these features make the Vega pouch-making system one of the world’s most versatile machines. ‘With a maximum speed of 210 cycles/min, the Mamata equipment is fast, precise and efficient, and the new machine has provided additional scope in terms of the range of products we can produce,’ Graham adds. ‘Besides our standard bag ranges we also manufacture brand prototypes, where we also use our HP Indigo digital press, and the fourweb pouch-maker certainly fits the bill for almost any bag and pouch application.’.
The spout pouch stars in Boland Pulp’s fruity show .
FMCG companies worldwide are thinking outside the can, jar and bottle, and looking with more interest at resealable spout pouches. This change is evident on South African shelves, too, and leading the charge in the food arena is Boland Pulp, as Brenda Neall reports.
‘Boland who?’ you’d be perfectly justified in asking. You may not have heard of the company, but you will soon enough notice its Puré pouch-packaged brands on supermarket shelves nationwide.
Boland Pulp is one of many sizeable food enterprises in South Africa that operate under the public radar. Based in Wellington, Western Cape, in the heart of one of the country’s deciduous fruit baskets, it’s a leading producer and exporter of first-grade fruit purées, currently around 45 000 tons pa.
Purée is big business, mainly finding wide application in the dairy, bakery and beverage sectors, among others. It comprises the whole fruit, sans pips, that is cooked, blended, concentrated to 32 brix, and then aseptically packaged in 230kg bags and into drums.
It’s also a commodity game and largely reliant on fruit that’s unsuitable to be sold fresh or canned. The commodity model is viewed by many as unsustainable in the long-term – an argument that spurred Boland Pulp’s MD Fernando Lage’s decision to invest some R15-million in setting up a new pouch plant at its Wellington factory.
‘Firstly, this is about upping our game – a move away from the unsustainable “push” commodity manufacturing mindset. Our new drive is to be customer focused, employee engaged, value added, brand leveraged, and market driven,’ says Fernando.
‘Secondly, for our particular business, it’s a haphazard approach to rely on sourcing so-called reject fruit – rather, we secure premium raw materials by contracting to purchase farmers’ entire orchards; quality in means quality out. But this is a long-term commitment that demands assured markets for our products – and we believe we can achieve this goal by adding value to our inventory via a range of purée-based branded items.’.
From the outset, Fernando was convinced the spout pouch was key for the project’s success, and he’s almost evangelical in singing its praises: ‘They’re a no-brainer when it comes to convenience, safety, portability, brand differentiation and enhanced product freshness,’ he enthuses.
But what about the perceived cost odds against them – a scenario that’s seen relatively few, if any, mainstream products in spout pouches in SA despite the technology’s being available for years?
‘Cost is no longer an issue if one commits to a minimum quantity of some scale – a figure of 100 000 units and the uptake is there,’ he answers. ‘Furthermore, I believe our timing to market is ideal, following trends in Europe and US where pouch technology is proving the most popular packaging solution seen in decades.
‘Today’s consumers are also more eco-savvy and aware of the impact of packaging on the environment; this is a growing consideration when it comes to purchasing habits. Reducing waste is of growing importance to consumers, now more than ever. A pouch weighs just 7% of a comparable glass container, for instance.’.
Savings and aesthetics .
According to a report in America’s Packaging Digest, pouches also are becoming more prevalent because technology has improved, doubling average shelf life from one year to two. Manufacturers, too, can cut packaging costs 10 to 15% by going to the pouch. Not only is the trend being driven by savings on packaging and shipping costs but also by aesthetics – an upscale pouch sporting elaborate graphics offers a modern look and premium appeal.
Boland Pulp has the added plus of tapping into the global trend to healthier eating. Fruit already enjoys a health-natural halo – but fruit that has fibre, comes in a ready-to-eat, convenient format and is processed without additives or preservatives positively sparkles.
‘Our pouches are made of high-barrier material and are lightweight as well as taking up less space on shelf. Using pasteurisation as opposed to preserving with chemical agents, our products offer a solution to an ever-growing health-conscious market. They also make resealing easy and product can be eaten directly from the pouch, or decanted as required,’ notes Fernando.
While the road to market has not been without hurdles and delays, Boland Pulp has in recent months secured nationwide shelf listings for its diverse Puré products: Squish smoothies comprising blended fruit purées; Squish Baby, a range of fruit and vegetable mixes designed for babies and toddlers; and Chef’Ease, a line up of sauces, purées, pastes and chutneys.
Squish Baby stands to take the baby food market in South Africa by storm with a recenty nationwide unveiling in the country’s top pharmacy brands, Clicks and Dis-Chem, both of which have popular loyalty programmes for parents.
‘We wanted to launch into retail stores as well as pharmacies that focused on health and wellness, especially with the ethos of the Puré range being artificial colorant and additive free, and focusing on the quality and freshness of the pulp used to make the baby food,’ says Fernando.
‘We are already in negotiations with major retail brands such as Pick n Pay, Spar, Checkers, Shoprite, OK Stores and Wellness Warehouse to expand our reach.’.
Boland Pulp also operates as an outsource manufacturer for several corporate and private label brands, who are increasingly seeing the spout-pouch as a great way to differentiation. SPAR was one of the early adopters with tomato paste some time ago, and Fernando reports that from a base of zero, sales climbed to over 600 000 units in the first year.
‘We’re confident that our Puré range will be a winner. They’re well priced and we’ve developed really delicious recipes. It’s an exciting business adventure to be pioneering what is essentially a new packaging format in South Africa – Chef’ Ease and Squish will brands to watch over the next few years,’ he concludes.
This journalist concurs – these products taste as good as they look. Notably, for my money, the Chef’Ease tomato sauce is without local equal. It is as tomato sauce should be. Do buy and try!