Evaluating flexible film options for food packaging

Explore new materials and options

Photo of flexible film food packaging

In the food industry, you always want to be flexible.

Lately, that’s come to mean more than just adapting to market trends or adjusting to shifts in food supply. It’s now about your packaging being literally flexible.

Flexible packaging for food is a broad category. In an overly simple sense, it’s something that’s not a box: pouches, foils, blister packaging, liners, wraps, sachets—anything that can change in shape even after being closed or filled. The name really says it all. It’s the stuff that flexes.

While they can be made of many different materials, an especially useful category for food packaging are flexible films. Whether as a single layer or multi-layer structure, flexible films have a lot of unique properties that make them ideal for food; from their protective qualities to their shipping durability, to their design possibilities. 

Here are a few common examples that you’ve probably already seen:

  • Stand Up Pouches

Stand-up pouches are also great at standing out, especially on the shelves. Not only does their form give them a contrast to typical boxes and cans, they also give you a more dynamic canvas for your design and graphics. And, because of the range of materials that they can be made with, they can fit almost any product, even showing it off with transparent labeling.

  • Sachets

Similar to a stand-up pouch except for the standing-up part, a sachet can give your product a unique shape and a striking design. As flat packets, they’re also great for shipping and can be a way to save costs on transportation and distribution.

  • Flexible Pouches

Already commonly known from fast food condiments, companies can use flexible pouches as a way to offer more options for their product. Lately, this has become especially valuable for offering single-serving or 100-calorie options.

Looking above those specifics, let’s focus on their higher value for food packaging. In particular, they allow you to create new opportunities and experiences for consumers, especially when it comes to how they can enjoy your product.

Flexible films for food packaging can empower you to:

  • Ready-to-eat

With the trend in snackable or 100-calorie options, flexible food packaging could give you a way to reach a new audience or gain traction in other retail settings. If your product usually ships in bulk, rigid packaging, looking into flexible film options could help you gain shelf space in different parts of the store. 

Plus, as research has shown that single-serving can actually decrease food waste (because consumers don’t have unfinished leftovers that get thrown out), this can even help you food waste.

  • Consumer convenience

Because flexible film packaging can incorporate different substrates in a multi-layer structure, it can be designed to have very specific properties. For instance, a bag for frozen peas can have an overall sturdiness that holds up in cold conditions, yet also have a tearaway patch that gives it a vent to be heated in a microwave. Or, a boil-in-bag pouch can preserve produce like green beans and also be easy to cook.

With this ease-of-use, you can give your customers a more enjoyable experience with your product. Considering how it can so easily adapt from one environment to another, you might even call it flexible.

  • Delightful design

Where other packaging has a separate layer for printed overlays, flexible packaging can be printed on directly. This means that you not only have a more efficient printing process, but that package shape can better integrate with package imagery, freeing your marketing and branding teams to come up with an even more dazzling design that complements the actual view of your product.

  • Increased revenue

Rigid packaging takes up more space. Flexible packaging can fit more product in a single shipment. This math is simple.

Plus, with online grocery spending expected to triple by 2023, this is an expanding market that could provide you with an opportunity to expand, and at the same time reap the benefits of more efficient packaging. Speaking of efficiency...

  • Decreased waste

Flexible film packaging decreases waste in two ways. First, by being thinner and lighter than many other packaging options, it creates less packaging volume overall, it helps make shipments lighter so that they use less fuel, and reduces spoilage. Because flexible film packaging can be engineered to meet the particular needs of any given food product and designed to be as durable as needed, to endure a variety of environments , and satisfy consumer preferences.

That last point is especially important. Because flexible film packaging gives you options, you can give consumers options. While it might seem like bulk packaging would reduce waste, it can actually increase waste through food spoilage.

With flexible film packaging, you can offer single-serving portions that help consumers buy only what they need and not let the rest go to waste. Plus, many flexible food materials help preserve freshness longer as well, further reducing spoilage. Good for their budgets.

On the whole, flexible films for food packaging are opening lots of options for all types of companies in the food industry. From empowering companies to meet consumer preferences like transparent labels, to helping reduce shipping costs, there’s almost certainly a way for you to benefit from these advances in technology.

If you want to explore more, contact Veritiv’s food packaging experts, and we’ll help you figure out what solutions could help you most!