BakeryandSnacks.com spoke exclusively to two product developers at packaging giant Bosch about the challenges facing industry in the quest for smaller, retail-ready snack packs.
“Smaller is wanted by both the retailer and consumer; the Euro crisis has spurred this. Smaller packs appeal as the supplier makes more money on them – there are bigger margins on smaller investments. For the consumer there is a lower up-front investment,” said Martin Dupick, product manager for vertical packaging at Bosch.
Roland Czuday, global product manager for secondary packaging at Bosch, said increased single households, smaller families and on-the-go consumers has sparked this trend at a global level too.
“Our customers want to distinguish at the point of sale,” Czuday said.
Dupick said that within the shift towards reduced pack sizes, stand-up pouches and re-closable bags are trending, particularly at the premium end of the snacks market.
“Re-closable, stand-up pouches have a higher aesthetic appeal and improved functionality,” he said.
“It is a more expensive form of packaging, but this is a textile that will become more and more important,” he added.
Dupick said manufacturers are looking for flexible machines that can pack more complex designs alongside traditional packs on the same machine.
Lighter but still strong
“There is a lot of energy put into packaging production at the primary stage. Therefore the task at a secondary level is to present these products nicely,” Czuday said.
However, he said this becomes more difficult as manufacturers look increasingly towards secondary packaging as an area where they can cut costs amid economic pressures.
“There is a strong trend to reducing the weight of packaging because weight means cost for manufacturers,” he said.
“The weight of packaging is already reduced, but there is a trend to reducing this even further. We need to find materials that offer the same strength,” he said.
The challenge, he said, is to ensure the case remains in good shape at the point of sale with a thinner carton.
Speed to market and variety
Czuday also said there is an increasing want to get products to market quickly and plug consumer demands for variety.
“Consumers in general are used to having choice and expect products to be available when they want them,” he said.
This in turn puts pressure on retailers to have full shelves and therefore manufacturers to deliver products quickly, he said.
“At a production level therefore, higher flexibility and quick changeover times are important to meet the demands of retailers instantly.”
The consumer demand for variety has led to a shift to rainbow or assortment packages that contain more than one type of product in a carton, Czuday said.
“There is the goal of providing a higher variety at the point of sale but with the same space on shelf,” he said.
To do all of this within the time-frames dictated by consumers and retailers, he said manufacturers want machinery faster.
“This reduced lead time of products is very critical – making equipment available as quickly as possible,” he said.
Czuday added that manufacturers also want machinery to be ‘future proof’. They want assurance that future textiles and pack sizes will work on the machines, he said.
Both product managers said there is on-going research and development work at Bosch for primary and secondary packaging.
Flexibility heads up the focus, followed by other underlying points like energy consumption, efficiency, hygiene and product protection.