There are a ton of options out there when it comes to sustainable packaging for food. Food packaging companies have a lot to think about from a sustainability point of view, as well as functionality.
And if you’re going down the road of organic food packaging materials, that’s a different ball game. Custom food packaging can get very nuanced very quickly.
Types of Food Packaging
In the simplest terms, the food packaging industry is divided into two types: flexible and rigid packaging. Flexible packaging, which our focus leans towards, offers several advantages. While glass and aluminum are excellent choices for products like beers and pickles, they may not be the best for all types of food items. Embracing flexible packaging aligns more closely with a sustainable approach, which is increasingly important in today’s world. This preference is driven by the need to reduce environmental impact and the growing consumer demand for eco-friendly packaging options. Flexible packaging, often lighter and requiring fewer resources, aligns well with these sustainability goals.
What are the Different Types of Food Packaging Materials?
Widely used for its versatility and cost-effectiveness, plastic packaging ranges from bottles to bags. Pros include durability and lightweight and the cons used to involve environmental concerns but with the advancements in sustainable plastics, brands have options.
Often used for liquids and perishable goods, glass is impermeable and recyclable. Pros are its reusability and chemical inertness, but it’s heavier and more fragile compared to other materials.
Common for canned goods, metal packaging is robust and offers excellent barrier properties. Pros are its complete recyclability and long shelf life, while cons include higher costs and susceptibility to corrosion.
Paper and Cardboard
Ideal for dry goods and takeout food, these are lightweight and easily recyclable. The pros are biodegradability and renewability, but they offer limited protection against moisture and pests.
Types of Flexible Packaging for Food & How to Decide Which Material Is Best
In this quick guide we review the five top materials for custom food manufacturing you should consider for your brand.
1. Flexible pouches
Flexible pouches are the future and are the fastest-growing segment of food packaging. Customers love them because they’re environmentally friendly, look great on the shelf, are durable, and take up much less space than the competition.
Stand-up pouches are much less expensive and much lighter to ship, so costs are continually lowered, too.
Another great thing about stand-up pouches is that they can be customized in many ways. Whatever you dream up can be printed on the pouch.
Additionally, it allows for package valves to keep oxygen from seeping into the bag and spoiling the product. For a product like coffee or granola, this is a significant win.
When thinking about what’s best for your company, consider what are the values you champion. If you’re asking the market to trust the brand as a leader in your space, is it based on sustainability or ease of use? Are you working toward being in stores across the country or cool with being in small batches at the farmer’s market?
Rollstock is one of those things that make sense. It’s fast, efficient, and affordable. It keeps production costs low and can be customized super-fast. And because it’s so sustainable with little waste, it makes for lower operational costs.
Rollstock uses two rolls of flat film, one of the least expensive barrier material types for vacuum packaging. The bottom layer of film is a forming film used to form the package’s bottom and the other layer seals.
3. Mylar bags
Mylar is the way to go if you’re looking for something that’ll make the long haul. Mylar is a popular option thanks to its high tensile strength, flexibility, and isolating barrier properties.
They’re crazy strong and won’t rip due to weight, and because they’re flexible, they’ll conform to the food inside and protect it. The air isolation allows you to control the oxygen that creeps inside with light exposure and humidity.
4. Lay flat
A lay flat may be an attractive option if you’re looking for something more like a pillow rather than standing up on a shelf.
Like the stand-up pouches, they offer the same barrier protection, but instead of standing up, they lay flat. (Insert quirky smiley face.)
5. Sachet packaging
These types of packaging are for quick one-off samples or on-the-go usage.
If you’re selling a vitamin powder or a sample of your energy drink powder, these may be a practical tool for promotion. Sachet is a method for getting people to know the brand on a sample basis.
6. Flat Bottom Pouches
Combining the benefits of a stand-up pouch and a traditional bag, flat bottom pouches offer stability and an attractive shelf presence. They are ideal for premium products and can accommodate a variety of closures.
Each of these flexible packaging types offers unique benefits, catering to different needs in the food industry. Their selection depends on the product requirements, consumer convenience, and brand positioning.
Flexible vs. Rigid Packaging for Food Products
As we said, we’re on Team Flexible with this one. Rigid packaging like boxes and bottles work for certain things, but in the long run, it bears asking not only if they’re good for the environment, but also, what are you selling?
A flexible stand-up pouch offers a better option for shelf attention if you’re selling granola or your grandma’s signature blend of spicy nuts.
And with the competition so intense for every dollar, if the packaging doesn’t sell within a short timeframe, stores will take you off the shelves.
Plus, rigid packaging is much more expensive in production and shipping, whereas flexible packaging is cost-effective.
Think about shipping a crate of empty bottles versus a box of empty lay-flat bags, the truck space alone is the game-changer for a new business that’s counting its pennies.
What is the Future for Food Packaging Materials?
The future of food packaging is heading towards sustainability and innovation. Key trends include:
With growing environmental awareness, biodegradable and compostable materials are gaining prominence.
Integration of technology like QR codes and sensors to track freshness, improve food safety, and enhance user experience.
Minimalism in Design
A shift towards simpler, clearer packaging that reduces waste and focuses on essential elements.
Leveraging digital printing for tailored designs and brand differentiation.
Each of these trends reflects a combination of technological advancement and a response to consumer demands for sustainability and convenience.
Keeping Your Packaging Sustainable
Things are changing for everyday consumers looking to lessen their carbon footprint. Flexible packaging is the no-brainer when it comes to this. ePac is dedicated to finding new ways to celebrate sustainability.
We’ve worked tirelessly with our team of gurus to develop things like inks that won’t affect the Earth, biodegradable packaging, or recyclable because it’s the future.
Countries worldwide are passing laws about what materials can be used in packaging due to plastic winding up in landfills and waterways, which will never break down in our lifetimes. Customers worldwide don’t want to be a part of that system and instead opt for choices that showcase a brand’s dedication to sustainability and lowering the carbon footprint.
People read labels and want to know where this material came from and, more importantly, what’ll happen when it’s done being used. If you’re curious about custom food packaging, let’s talk. We’d love to help your company get greener and create something that wows customers everywhere.