Stand-up pouches – top of the pops

Stand-up pouches are an ever popular choice for brand owners looking for innovative ways to market their products. Gill Loubser takes a look at this burgeoning sector of the flexible packaging market.

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.