Custom stand-up pouches have become ubiquitous retail locations that sell packaged products, most notably the supermarket. These pouches stand upright when full and the stand-up construction, with its “built-in” billboard effect, lends itself especially well to food products that have to compete on the supermarket shelf for the attention of the shopper. The same attention-getting construction in conjunction with eye-catching graphics is used across a wide range of other product categories, examples including lawn and garden supplies, pool chemicals, pet foods and treats and bath care items (bubble bath crystals and water treatments), just to name a few. The applications are plentiful and coupled with the benefits of this type of flexible packaging, the market is booming.
Benefits of Custom Stand-up Pouches
The biggest advantage of a custom stand-up pouch is its versatility. They can be manufactured in a wide range of sizes with added features such as a tear notch for easy opening, hang holes for in-store pegboard displays and the addition of various types of closures if a reclosable pouch is desired. The ability to stand- up comes from adding a bottom gusset during the manufacturing process, which in “packaging speak” means it has a piece of material that lies horizontal to the surface the pouch will be placed on that becomes the base allowing the pouch to stand vertically. Below are some of the most important advantages for stand-up pouches:
• Sealability – Stand-up pouches often have a zipper to enhance consumer convenience because stand up pouches usually contain a product that will be accessed multiple times before it is emptied, such as nuts, dog treats, pancake mix, etc. The zipper also protects the remaining contents while being stored after the pouch has initially been opened. Simply stated, a reclosable feature allows the product to be enjoyed more than once at maximum freshness.
• Printability – The materials used to create stand-up pouches lend themselves to eye-catching graphics printed on the pouch. This most common type of printing process is flexographic printing and this process can be used to produce a level of beauty and detail comparable to what was achievable in the past only by the use of a process called roto-gravure. The package becomes an extension of the brand and an important advertising tool. Also, the graphics are reverse printed, i.e., they are printed on the back of the outer layer of material used to make the package. Trapping the print between the layers in the laminate means that there is no risk of contamination from the package to the food.
• Packaging Materials – Custom pouches are typically made up of a laminated structure whereby different layers in the structure provide different protective properties to the package. These properties include the stiffness to be able to stand up, the clarity to be able to optimize the visual impact of the printing and the protective properties to keep the contents fresh. Two important terms to know are WVTR (water vapor transmission rate) and OTR (oxygen transmission rate). These are acronyms that refer to the rate of water vapor and oxygen that passes through the packaging material over time in normal atmospheric conditions. Using the example of a food manufacturer, moisture is a common enemy so they would want a lamination that was designed to keep the WVTR as low as reasonably possible. Because the package is made up of multiple layers of material, and with different types of films having different protective properties, there are many iterations to choose from in the final construction. Special coatings on the films can also be used to enhance protection. The end result is that the combination of film and coating types allow a knowledgeable, experienced manufacturer to “dial-in” the exact type and degree of protection required by each of their customers.
• Lightweight – Custom stand-up pouches are extremely lightweight when compared to rigid packaging such as cans or bottles designed to hold an identical volume of product. This is a huge benefit for the manufacturer since the cost of shipping is directly related to the weight of the package. The ratio of product weight to package weight skews heavily toward product weight in flexible packaging that means a manufacturer is able to ship more product per dollar of freight cost. Flexible packaging also takes up less space than rigid packaging, benefiting the manufacturer by allowing them to pack more product per cubic foot of shipping container than with rigid packaging.
• Sustainability – The packaging industry, the government and an ever-growing number of consumers are focusing on the impact of packaging on the environment. Flexible packaging has proven itself to be an optimum environmental choice, starting with using fewer resources to produce and having the ability to package the most product in the least packaging possible. Flexible packaging uses fewer resources to produce vs. rigid packaging, generates fewer emissions and creates less waste. For example, producing a flexible pouch for food requires 75% less energy and generates 10% of the CO2 emission than a metal can for the same amount of product.
Applications of Custom Stand-up Pouches
The most common application of stand-up pouches can be found in the kitchen. They include:
Sweet and Savory Snacks
- Dehydrated fruit
- Beef Jerky
- Processed and frozen food
- Beverage Mixes
Outside of the kitchen, custom pouches are seeing big application growth in the following verticals.
- Insect Control
- Grass seed
- Other lawn chemicals
- Beauty and Personal Care
- Automotive Packaging
- Industrial Packaging
Custom stand-up pouches access to new markets for new applications are growing every day. The benefits include the lightweight, printability, resealability, and sustainability. More and more, we will see stand-up pouches across many markets and the historical growth rates of adoption of flexible packaging are expected to continue for the foreseeable future.