Fortune favours the flexible

8 February 2016

Fortune favours the flexible

Fortune favours the flexible

Flexible packaging is a driving force in the converting industry. Customers want innovative packaging solutions and converters are catering to the demand for more advanced products. Emma-Jane Batey speaks to leading figures in the industry to learn about the latest developments.

The demand for lighter weights, fewer raw materials and greater on-shelf appeal point to flexible packaging. And converters know that delivering these solutions puts them well ahead of competitors that do not.

Brand-design agency Boxer has played a key role in the redevelopment of McDonald's anticipated flexible packaging launch. With offices in Birmingham, UK, and Chicago, US, Boxer's declaration is that it "passionately believes in brand storytelling" and in its recent endeavour it vowed to "take customers on a new journey to discover the evolving McDonald's".

Building a brand

The result, which will soon be rolled out across the chain's 36,000 branches, is a capsule-design system of 12 takeaway bags, four sandwich boxes and six beverage cups. Boxer's chief creative officer Paul Castledine explains: "It's a new direction for the brand, which is being modernised and made more progressive; the new packaging strategically indicates that. Because it's dynamic and simple, the packaging acts as a mobile billboard. McDonald's has had quite a tough time but so many people love the brand. We've seen that through our research. This has meant that we can be playful with the type and design. It's very striking and in-your-face because people love these products."

McDonald's, iconic yet faltering brand, is working with a company in Northern Ireland to help reduce its packaging waste. Belfast's Delta Packaging is an independent manufacturer that uses the latest flexographic and lithographic printing techniques to create and deliver responsible packaging for some of the world's biggest food brands. Neal McCone, Delta director, says: "For McDonald's UK and Ireland, we supply a variety of carton formats including burger clamshells, wrap cartons and the iconic McDonald's fries carton. We also manufacture for McDonald's in Spain, France, Portugal, Belgium and the Netherlands. Delta Packaging understands the importance of managing its waste streams; innovative packaging solutions are as much about ecologically responsible ideas as they are about effective packaging of products. All of the raw material used in our McDonald's packaging is responsibly sourced by using fully certified PEFC recycled board, water-based inks and fully compostable grease barriers."

Flexible packaging

Delta has launched another product, which shows the company's flexible packaging prowess. The internationally patented Flexicarry is the first of its kind. It's a flexible multicup carrier, which can conveniently and safely carry up to four drinks with one hand without spilling. Made from recyclable low-slip PP, the Flexicarry has been successfully tested at various stadium events, with the product increasing the speed of service at beer concessions by 50%, and reducing waste and storage space by 75% compared with standard cardboard carriers. As it doesn't need to be assembled, it's an easy solution for concessions that have temporary and unfamiliar workers employed for an event.

Bag and box it

A European flexible packaging manufacturer, which is dedicated to delivering the latest technology for liquid packaging, is Spain's Montibox. Founded in 1994 for the sole purpose of producing bag-in-box (BIB) solutions, Montibox is active in its domestic Spanish market, and also in France, Portugal, Russia, Chile and Vietnam. Director Jose Munoz says: "The bag-in-box is basically a container formed of a box and a bag. The bag is made of several sheets that protect the product from oxidation and light, and a valve tap or cap, which is able to dispense the liquid product. The box protects the bag from light and damage, makes transporting the product easier and acts as a marketing device to promote the product. The main advantage is that once opened, the packaging keeps the product fresh for a long period, as it prevents the entry of air into the interior of the bag, which allows consumers to extend their consumption for a longer period."

Montibox is ready to produce bag-in-boxes ranging from 1.5 to 20L, in individual and continuous form, with transparent, metallic and transparent metallic (EVOH) materials. Munoz says: "Our design department is at the client's complete disposal in relation to any new requests or requirements. Our mission is to offer a package that is comfortable and easy to use, while allowing optimal preservation of the packaged product even after opening. As the only Spanish flexible packaging company certified for the design and production of polythene bags for liquids, we are proud to offer a comprehensive and customer-focused service."

Another leading European player in the flexible packaging arena is SEI, a laser technology company that's developed innovative solutions for professional converters. Based in Milan, SEI is Italy's most prominent laser technology specialist. The company has recently launched SEI flexible packaging, a new line of laser systems that have been specifically created for the laser cutting, laser scoring, macro and microperforation of single or multilayer flexible film for different materials, which include PE, PET and nylon.

SEI's marketing manager Ettore Colico says: "Flexible packaging continues to play a strategic role in product recognition and product differentiation, particularly in terms of the food and beverage, and convenience goods sectors. In today's market, converters are looking to develop innovative solutions with features such as easy opening and closing, easy breath and ventilation. Our new SEI flexible packaging laser system is perfect for the professional converter as it offers precise and repeatable quality, high productivity and excellent flexibility."

The laser way

Colico says: "We believe that every application has a possible laser solution and it is this innovative, results-driven strategy that we call the laser way. Our laser systems are equipped with galvanometric heads exploiting CO2 laser sources, solid-state laser sources and our laser plotter systems, which also have interpolated mechanical axes. With these systems, we're able to meet the most challenging demands of our converting customers worldwide."

With so many innovative flexible packaging solutions continually joining this fast-paced market, it seems that prescient converters are welcome partners to design agencies and food and beverage brands.

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