U.S. stand-up pouches continuing growth path

A new report from PCI Films Consulting Ltd. claims that the U.S. stand-up pouch market has seen dramatic growth over the past five years, increasing by 50% in unit volume terms to approaching 17 billion units in 2013. Beverages and pet food are the largest end use categories, each accounting for one-third of demand, closely followed by human food applications with around 30% share.

A new report from PCI Films Consulting Ltd. claims that the U.S. stand-up pouch market has seen dramatic growth over the past five years, increasing by 50% in unit volume terms to approaching 17 billion units in 2013. Beverages and pet food are the largest end use categories, each accounting for one-third of demand, closely followed by human food applications with around 30% share.

Stimulating the recent growth in pouches has been the drive to replace plastic and glass bottles and cans, packaging cost reduction and consumer convenience. In its new report on the stand-up pouch market, PCI forecasts that U.S. demand for pouches will continue to grow by around 7% to reach nearly 24 billion units in 2018, at least twice as fast as volume growth expected in the U.S. flexible packaging market as a whole.

Report author Julian Lozowick, comments: "The most significant increases in volume have come only in the last two years, particularly in liquid products within the human foods non-retort category, such as in the packing of baby foods and fruit compote and purees. The use of pouches for dry food products in general has been growing more steadily, but even here some categories have seen rapid recent growth."  

Future increases in volume are expected to come from a wide variety of end uses - frozen foods and fruit compotes, frozen spirits, cocktails, baby food, shredded and diced cheese, laundry and dishwashing refill packs and soups.  Other opportunities are only in the early stages of development but pouches used to pack motor oils, dietary meal solutions and possibly olive oil and fresh vegetables are forecast to grow in volume.

The growing interest in pouches has been satisfied on the supply-side by the expanding infrastructure of toll converters and contract packers as well as advances in pack resealability and slider technologies. Pre-made pouches retain a majority share of the U.S. stand-up pouch market with printed laminate for form-fill-seal applications currently accounting for less than a quarter of total pouch units.  

Research from Euromonitor International says that within global retail packaging, stand-up pouches created particular interest in 2012, and saw particularly strong growth. The pouch's versatility has led to its volume expansion being geographically diverse, with its use covering packaged food, pet food, beverages and home & personal care. Its growing presence and significant growth potential lies in its ability to offer at times an economy positioning, which is important in emerging countries, and at others to add value in more mature regions. 

Our sister publication, Packaging Digest, recently reported that Tyson Mexico received help and expertise from Printpack, a converter of flexible and specialty packaging, and the Latin American Dow Packaging & Specialty Plastics team, to create a more sustainable frozen chicken package. Together, they developed the first 100% PE stand-up pouch with a PE reclosable zipper. The product was launched in Mexico in May 2013.

At K 2013, Dow also showcased its 100% PE stand up pouch, which Diego Donoso, president of Dow's polyethylene and packaging, said is a prime example of the company working with convertors and brand owners to solve problems together.

"Our stand up pouches looks to solve the problem of recycling those type of packages by eliminating extra layers," he said. "After all, maybe simplicity is what we need." 

The pouch's versatility has led to its volume expansion being geographically diverse, with its use covering packaged food, pet food, beverages and home and personal care, the report stated. Its growing presence and significant growth potential lies in its ability to offer at times an economy positioning, which is important in emerging countries, and at others to add value in more mature regions.

One trend that seems apparent - the pet food industry sure enjoys packaging its product in stand-up pouches.

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