Digital printing makes it affordable to have impressive graphics on the package.

Marketing departments across the globe are continuously challenged with how to make their product stick out from the competition in marketplaces filled with ever-increasing variety. The solution for many successful companies is the stick pack. Originating in Japan, the stick pack made its debut on shelves in the United States in the 1990s.

Originally used to package dry granular products such as sugars, sweeteners, and other drink mix-ins, the stick pack has evolved to being one of the most versatile packaging options available. Although it was first only used by big brand name companies, the stick pack has also gained popularity with companies in their infancy. Stick packs have rightfully earned their dominance in the packaging market as they are cost effective, environmentally friendly, and most of all, versatile.

Options for Any Size

Stick packs have been found to be a great addition to the contract packaging business. The use of stick packs is extremely cost-effective for nearly any sized production run. Stick packs are a great option for large order quantities as stick pack machines can have in excess of 20 lanes and are capable of producing thousands of units per minute. This gives way to economies of scale and lower costs being passed onto the customer.

On the other hand, small orders are a perfect match for stick pack machines with only a few lanes. Over the last few years there has been a very high demand for startup companies looking to package their products in quantities as low as 5,000 stick packs.  This is the perfect solution for customers with small orders to sample their new products in a cost-effective manner. Production lead times are much shorter as the only required component is the pre-printed film. This shrinks the supply chain as well as significantly reducing component costs. In addition, the rolls of film are much more compact and require less warehouse space than bottles, caps, and jars, creating even further savings.

Environmental Impact

Another packaging movement coinciding with the rise of the stick pack is the green movement. The stick pack is inherently an environmentally friendly package with a reduced carbon footprint. As compared to rigid tubes and bottles, the stick pack requires significantly less material, and compresses to take up less room in landfills. In addition, the structures used in stick packs are more compact, and weigh significantly less than bottles and jars, requiring substantially less shipments. With a greater focus on sustainable packaging, the stick pack will continue to increase in usage as well. Eventually, biodegradable films will be a common structure used in creating stick packs, reducing their ecological footprint even more.

Versatility is Key

Ultimately, what drives the growing demand for stick packs is the versatility they offer. Stick packs have evolved to package not only powders, but liquids, gels, and pastes. Products being packaged range from instant coffee, concentrated beverages, beauty products, condiments, and most recently pharmaceuticals and nutraceuticals, which show enormous potential for the stick pack. They are being widely accepted in the consumer retail market, meeting on-the-go and travel needs. The use of stick packs in the pharmaceutical market is increasing as sticks provide a consumer-friendly, economical, and safe packaging method.

By the very nature of their structure, stick packs are tamper evident, reducing the need for additional tamper-evident seals, and passing on a sense of safety to the end user. In addition, the stick pack is a pre-measured dosage of the pharmaceutical product, taking the responsibility out of the consumer’s hands to measure doses.  Lastly, new innovations by companies producing stick pack structures include easy-open options and child-resistant features, allowing adults to easily open the package while most children cannot.

New Developments

Another significant innovation spun off of the concept of the stick pack is the Tear N’ Tuck package from Unette. This package combines the body structure of the stick pack with a special tip that allows the tube to be closed for future applications. It is a flexible, reclosable tube that does not require a cap, making it very cost-effective for customers looking for a package that can support multiple applications.

An additional development that took the advantages offered by the stick pack is the Yes Pack from conglomerate Kraft Foods. The Yes Pack, like stick packs, is a flexible structure except it is for gallon-sized applications. As an alternative to rigid bottles, the flexible Yes Pack allows for significant material reduction and energy savings. In fact, the package takes up 50% less landfill space, 70% reduced transportation costs due to the decrease in weight, and a 99% product yield for the consumer.

The last decade has shown immense growth for the stick pack and the future looks promising. The stick pack itself and other concepts branching from it will likely continue to rise in popularity as companies and brands realize the cost effectiveness, environmental friendliness, and versatility offered by the flexible structure.

Unette Corporation

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