Frequently ubiquitous, sometimes innovative and always essential, closures and fitments are found in flexible packaging in a myriad of sizes, formats and materials that match general market trends and are tailored to specific applications. The growth of fitments in flexibles is tied to the overall growth of this market segment.

“It appears that many brands are looking for ways to move from rigid containers to flexible containers,” observes , Ampac’s director of innovation. “One of the issues involved is developing dispensing and reclose technologies that consumers are already comfortable with or that are intuitive to use.”

Dave Johnson, strategic business development manager, food market, Aptargroup, believes that convenience is fundamental. “According to [research firm] Mintel, 46 percent of consumers said that packaging convenience often plays a part in their purchasing decisions, and pouches that incorporate fitments are delivering on this need,” he says. “Closures that provide resealability and cleanliness are just a couple of attributes that the consumer can expect when using a flexible package with an integrated fitment or closure.”

Closures can help to provide more convenience, functionality, shelf appeal and safe use, Johnson summarizes.

Typical fitments in the flexible packaging market are either on the corner, top or face of a pouch, Pellingra explains. For corner and top fitments, the most common is a 9-mm spout. For larger particulates or difficult-to-pour products, larger fitments are required; these can be 60 mm or more. The larger the pouch, the greater the need for support.

Larger closures also help to bring more structure to the package by providing better handling, adds Johnson.

Issues with fitment or cap designs are related to pourability, dosing, child resistance, easy opening, choking hazard, safety and tamper evidence. Fitments for retort applications-and their seals-must be capable of withstanding high-temperature retort conditions. Dosing is especially needed for the laundry category, which seems to be a growth area for pouches, Pellingra opines.

One of the most popular fitments found on flexible packaging is that of zipper reclosures. Supplied in roll form, they can be applied by converters when producing premade bags or by packagers during form-fill-seal operations. Zip-Pak’s Bob Hogan estimates that premade pouches account for about 40 percent or more of resealable packages. The use of slider reclosures is a growing market that comprises about 10 percent of premade pouches, he notes.

In collaboration with Novamont, Zip-Pak has developed a cellulose-based, 100 percent compostable profile for resealable packaging made of Mater-Bi resin, a bioplastic obtained from plants such as corn starch, and biodegradable polymers obtained both from renewable raw materials and fossil raw materials.

Also under development is a zipper using corn-based polylactic acid (PLA) for use with PLA films. “We are working with several customers on projects for a resealable PLA package,” Hogan says.

As to what’s next, Aptargroup’s Johnson cites closure/spout designs that address portability, convenience and designs that provide more structure, safety and flow/portion-control to the package, especially for child safety. “Also look for fun, interactive pouch/spout package designs,” he adds.

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