Q: What new features or technologies are being introduced to this sector of the industry?

A: Pouch and bag designs will continually evolve to meet the changing demands of consumers for convenience and quality. But converters have told us what is most important to them: Technology that will put more money to the bottom line.

In today’s marketplace, where margins are thin and competition is fierce, converters are looking for technology that gives them the power to reliably control their process, which will improve process efficiency and product quality. By applying the discipline of process driven innovation, CMD introduced Intelligent Sealing Technology to the Medical Packaging market. This propriety technology combines mechanical and electronic controls innovation to carefully maintain and document the three critical sealing parameters of time, temperature and pressure.

This new technology has addressed the need of the medical packaging converter by maintaining process consistency and building confidence in product quality and integrity through data acquisition and product/process traceability. We now offer this same level of control and confidence to stand-up-pouch converters. It is very exciting to see how enthused customers are when they see this technology for the first time. Their reaction is: “Finally, someone listened to me!!”

Q: What kinds of trends are happening now, and what are customers requesting less or more of? Is there a formerly hot trend that is cooling off now?

A: Sustainable packaging formats are hot now; pouches that do more with less are efficient to ship, fill, store and display. Even in basic bag converting, overlapped bags-on-a-roll are overtaking folded bags as a dispensing option because they are more efficient to produce, ship and store.

While it’s important to remain innovative in package design, converters are also looking for sustainable converting processes. Monitoring and maintaining the critical sealing functions of time, temperature and pressure enhances process efficiency and reduces scrap, downtime and overall converting costs. This is the heart of sustainability.

Q: With so many options in the bag-/pouch-making segment, in your opinion, what is the most durable style currently on the market?

A: While niche packaging styles find their place in short-term product differentiation efforts, or run their course in test marketing, the store shelves are mostly populated by the traditional bottom-gusseted and side-gusseted stand-up pouch formats. There’s a reason for this: the stand-up pouch offers superior functionality, economy and brand identity. It’s a ‘bang-for-the-buck’ thing.

Q: What kinds of problems has this segment solved in recent years?

A: Having spent 25 years as a converter myself, I think the greatest advancements and ‘problem-solving’ have come from the geniuses developing film structures. Through the advancement of film technology, a large variety of products have migrated to the SUP format.

Think about the environmental impact our industry has had. By transitioning many consumer products from traditional rigid formats into pouches and bags, our industry has reduced the overall carbon-footprint left by consumer packaging significantly. Food products are safer, fresher and better protected and taste better, too, so consumers are happy. Additionally, the high-impact graphics available in these formats provide the shelf-appeal brand owners seek, so there are ‘wins’ all around; it’s an exciting industry to be involved in.

Q: What's missing from this sector? What would you like to see improve?

A: It would be great to see a quicker rate of transition to flexible packaging formats in the United States. The economic and environmental case for pouches over rigid alternatives has been proven in Europe and Asia. Here in the U.S., consumers are ready to embrace the pouch for the same reasons, but migration from rigid containers to flexible pouches has been slow.

There may be a reluctance to replace existing capital infrastructure; or a hesitancy to ‘be the first’ to break from tradition. Whatever the reason, advances in technology, coupled with the voice of the consumer, will soon win out. It will be an exciting time to see more and more products packaged in the flexible pouch or bag and CMD will be here, listening to the voice of the converter, applying the principles of process-driven-innovation to provide solutions that matter.