Optimising flexible packaging

To opt for pouch filling machines or fill, form, seal? Regardless of the choice, producers are being treated to increasingly efficient packaging machines and more, argues Managing Editor Rebecca Spayne 

The growth of on-the-go snacking market which has spurred smaller pack sizes to meet demands for portion control and the ability to monitor calorie intake has driven growth in flexible packaging with regards to smaller bags and pouches, while factors including functionality, convenience and sustainability must be taken into account by packaging machines and systems.  

According to research from Statistia, the global healthy snacks market hit US$85.6 billion in 2021 and is expected to grow at a rate of 6.6% annually between 2022-2030. Current projections forecast the market to reach $152 billion by 2030. Circana’s 2023 State of Snacking report showed 49% of consumers state they consume more than three snacks per day, with findings demonstrating that snacking proves itself as an affordable indulgence and a means of supporting mental wellbeing.  

Younger consumers are driving this increase in snacking and place value on convenience, perceived health benefits and experimentation with different flavours and textures in particular helps to draw the younger generation to make purchases. To meet demand for health benefits, producing bite sized portions of confectionery enables this. 

This has helped to fuel growth in small bags and pouches, which facilitate portion control, as well as help producers maintain their weight and look at reducing the amount of packaging material used. They also serve as an incredibly useful delivery format with which to put branding, bright colours and other eye-catching details to attract consumers shopping for confectionery. 

New technologies gather pace  

Producers have to weigh up the advantages and disadvantages of opting between premade pouch packaging machines compared with form, fill seal (FFS) machines. Producers who opt for the latter must be responsible for the rollstock of packaging material with regards to making sure their material is continuously stocked, but they have greater control over the amount of material used. Additionally, FFS machines comes out top of premade pouch packaging machines when it comes to speed.  

Producers also need to take into account the expense associated with replacing packaging materials, the initial investment behind buying a new machine, and the skill level of their staff. Developments in technology such as servo drives are helping machinery manufacturers to optimise the packaging speeds of FFS machines, while tweaks to the design of the machine are resulting in major advantages – such as reshifting the location of the electrical cabinet, as demonstrated later on – and the skill level of operators is being acutely considered by manufacturers bringing out easy to operate systems utilising the HMIs. 

Vertical form, fill seal (VFFS) technology takes efficiency and high-speed packaging a step further. The machine shapes the material into a pouch or bag, fills it with chocolates or candies and seals it in one, smooth step. VFFS machines today are more compact, cost-effective for large-scale industrial production and are best suited for packaging loose products

Read the full feature in our magazine.

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Media contact

Caitlin Gittins
Editor, International Confectionery
Tel: +44 (0) 1622 823 920
Email: editor@in-confectionery.com

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