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Whether it's to fasten laces, a zipper or even to help astronauts keep their dinner plates from floating in zero gravity space, Velcro's hook-and-loop fasteners seem to transcend all sorts of industries and products.So why not try to make a mark in the flexible packaging industry? After all, the flexible packaging industry is the second largest packaging segment in the U.S., with about $25.4 billion in U.S. sales in 2011, according to the Flexible Packaging Association.

Heather Caliendo

May 1, 2013

4 Min Read
Velcro looks to “hook” the flexible packaging industry with its PRESS-LOK closure technology

Whether it's to fasten laces, a zipper or even to help astronauts keep their dinner plates from floating in zero gravity space, Velcro's hook-and-loop fasteners seem to transcend all sorts of industries and products.

So why not try to make a mark in the flexible packaging industry? After all, the flexible packaging industry is the second largest packaging segment in the U.S., with about $25.4 billion in U.S. sales in 2011, according to the Flexible Packaging Association.

Chris Lerra, business development manager for Velcro Americas, told PlasticsToday the company determined there was opportunity in flexible packaging.

"Think of all categories such as the pet food market, the snack food market, laundry detergent - they are moving to flexible packaging - it's an incredible opportunity for reclosable fasteners," he said. "As a fastener solutions company with a tradition built around it, this became a natural fit for us."

Still, Lerra said they didn't want to jump into the market unless they could bring something unique and of value that the industry didn't currently have with the zipper technology. The company believes the PRESS-LOK closure technology is just that. 

Velcro-Brand-PRESS-LOK-Image.ashx_.jpegIn 2010, Velcro introduced its PRESS-LOK closure, a proprietary hook-to-hook technology. The closure is a unique solution in the industry because it contains what the company calls an easy alignment that allows the hooks to engage without precise line-up, securing closure with great burst strength to maintain the package integrity. The PRESS-LOK closure has an audible click, allowing consumers to hear their packages open and close, ensuring a tight seal.

But just because the name Velcro was tied to it, doesn't mean it's an easy road. Lerra said the first application didn't hit the market until 2012.

"The packaging industry is difficult in a sense that it's very traditional, for instance, the zipper has been around for 40 years," he said. "So we're coming into this industry, this segment, a little late. So for us, it was more or less building relationships and allow time for the adoption process."

Flexible packaging provider Peel Plastics Products was looking around the market for new closures. Arnoud Prins, Peel Plastics business development manager, said they were impressed with the PRESS-LOK closure because there was nothing on the market like it, and what really set the closure apart was the ease to open and close it, plus the audible noise that helps ensure the package is sealed.

Peel produced a promotion package with the PRESS-LOK closure and showcased it at a variety of trade shows. He said that when people picked up the package, they responded well to the closure.

"For us, it's extremely exciting to work with a company like Velcro to help penetrate the market and get exposure," Prins said. "We seem to be the first company to jump on the bandwagon with the closure and I'm sure the competition will follow. But it's been a very good ride for us and Velcro and I'm sure it has the potential for many more applications we Velcro_Whimzees.jpghaven't even thought of."  

Lundberg Family Farms was the first U.S. food company to use this technology in their packaging. The company worked with Peel Plastics to convert their existing lay-down packaging to a flat-bottom stand up pouch containing Velcro's PRESS-LOK closure.

Recently, Velcro announced that it worked with Hill's Pet Nutrition to integrate the PRESS-LOK closure technology into its pet food packaging.

"There are many tangible consumer benefits that the PRESS-LOK closure system provides to our Hill's Science Diet packaging," said Christopher Rector, director of marketing of Hill's. "The PRESS-LOK application provides a fast, effective and stress-free bag closure solution. PRESS-LOK closure opens and closes easily and quickly, keeping the kibble in and the paws out."

The material is a PE heat sealable fastener that is adaptable to most packaging machinery. Lerra said the PRESS-LOK's production process is proprietary, with a lot of IP involved in what he called a continuous molding technology. While Velcro is using existing machinery, he said the tooling was unique to create the product line for packaging.

As far as market growth, Lerra acknowledged that for certain food categories such as the sliced cheese market, they will need to develop better barrier properties. Still, he believes the biggest value point for the consumer is the ease of use alignment.

"When people start using it, they really see the advantages of it," he said. "I see it taking up in new applications and also see it taking away the market share from the slider, we are bringing value that the market doesn't have with the zipper. I think there is a very healthy outlook for Velcro to grow in this market."

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