While the U.S. flexible packaging industry has been growing at about 4 percent a year for the past decade, there is still plenty of opportunity. Despite the proliferation of pouches and bags for everything from lettuce to Legos, industry observers forecast even faster growth in flexible.

According to a survey released in September by PMMI, the Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies, 33 percent of companies queried planned to move from rigid to flexible in the next year. The group predicts the U.S. flexible packaging industry (industrial and consumer) will be $32.7 billion this year, a 5.3 percent increase from 2014.

On the backdrop of this popularity, the Packaging Strategies group is pleased to present its fourth conference in two years focused just on flexible. Global Pouch West will take place Dec. 2-3 in Orange County, California, with two days of educational programs and exhibits.

In 2014, Packaging Strategies launched Global Pouch West as the very successful Global Pouch Forum, held every June in Florida, had sold out and there was demand for a show to serve the Western United States. After a successful first year, the second-annual Global Pouch West will take place this December on the West Coast.

This year’s Global Pouch West features speakers from the food and beverage, design, contract packaging, environmental and material supply industries.

The keynote speaker is a food company veteran who left the corporate world of Campbell Soup Co. to strike out on his own. Joel Henry, founder of Fig Food Co., sells organic beans and soups in standup pouches. His company was created out of the successful business incubator program in New York City in 2009, a project of the Bloomberg administration. In 2010, several varieties of ready-to-eat soups were launched. Henry is a proponent of healthy eating, especially plant-based foods. The company supports fossil fuel independence and the reduction of greenhouse gases and is a B corporation, meaning it meets rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability and transparency.

Henry is outspoken on the need for the packaging industry to create more opportunities and a more robust supply chain for emerging packaged food companies.

How to dispose of flexible plastic is a vexing problem for the industry. The conference will feature a panel of experts discussing end-of-life solutions for pouches and bags. Moderated by environmental consultant Terence Cooper, it features speakers from PepsiCo’s sustainable materials team and from Agilyx, a company that is transforming flexible plastic into fuel.

That session will be followed by a talk from Lamy Chopin of Dow Performance Packaging, who will speak on how to make a recyclable pouch.

Among the pouch’s many advantages is that it saves on shipping costs because of its lighter weight, and it often also saves in material costs. But the pouch is becoming a lifestyle solution as well. Millennial shoppers, who might have grown up with Capri Sun, like the versatility and transportability that a pouch adds to drinks, condiments, soups and sauces. A veteran of the retail industry, Ron Sasine, senior director of packaging at Walmart from 2009-2015, will speak on changing consumption patterns over the next decade.

There is much more on the agenda, including talks by a West Coast designer and contract packager. And there will be a networking and table-top exhibition with more than 50 booths on the evening of Dec. 2.

Global Pouch West

Dec. 2-3, 2015
Hyatt Regency Orange County
Garden Grove, California