In the 38 years that Peel Plastic Products Ltd. has been around, the company has grown from its modest days manufacturing plastic grocery carryout bags to an expanding flexible packaging converter producing premade plastic pouches.
“Our owner (and founder Bill Troost) was really a visionary and could see an opportunity to start to move into markets where plastic was the predominant solution, and he was determined to help them convert over to plastic packaging solutions,” says Mark Liberman, vice president of sales and marketing at Peel Plastics, who has been with the privately owned company for nearly 10 years.
Today, the Brampton, Ontario-based company – currently managed by second-generation general manager David Troost – employs more than 350 workers and provides premade fill-and-seal pouches to brands across North America and Europe primarily in pet food, lawn & garden, and health & wellness markets.
“Unlike a lot of our competitors or peers who have a large portion of their business in conventional human food, we do very little there, hence why we’ve chosen pouches and no roll stock,” Liberman says. “Our offerings in … the pouch portfolio include typically reclosable features, side-gusset handles, different film textures and things like that, so we focus on multiuse packaging.”
The company’s side-gusset standup pouch is experiencing the most growth, Liberman explains, with the flat-bottom pouch leading in terms of attractiveness and popularity to brands and consumers.
“There’s some interesting technology coming around the medium and large formats over the next 12 to 36 months, but (the flat-bottom pouch) really has been the one that I think has got a marketer’s and brand owner’s eye,” Liberman says. “It offers tremendous billboard effect on shelf and gives you a number of panels to both brand and project a selling message.”
The flat-bottom pouch also has the added benefit for brand owners to choose from all of Peel Plastics’ closure options, such as slider, which allows consumers to easily open and close a package; EZ to close, which features Velcro hook-and-hook closure technology; and press to close zipper, which works for wet and dry products.
Brands can also choose from Peel Plastics’ other product specifications like Microperf, which allows venting without the risk of infestation; Big Mouth, which is the company’s patent-pending design that enables the pouch mouth to stay open; a punched two-hole handle; and mixed web, which features a combination of different substrates – such as matte, clear or metalized – in the same package.
The company also recently launched its first side-gusset pouch made with bio-based polyethylene materials. The pouches, which are USDA-certified and contain at least 30 percent plant-based materials, are already being used for Petcurean’s Gather brand. To produce the plastic film, Peel Plastics partnered with Brazilian petrochemical company Braskem, who replaced the traditional polyethylene sealant layer with one whose feedstock comes from sugarcane, company officials said.
“With our customers, we really look for the most authentic solutions, and the challenge with today’s market is that everybody is trying to find that right solution that addresses sustainability, recyclability and all those different hot buttons with brand owners,” Liberman says. “We really try to make sure that we’re doing our due diligence to bring authentic solutions to the marketplace.”
To help manage and service the company’s growth over the next five to 10 years, Peel Plastics broke ground this past fall on a 165,000-square-foot facility that’s located just a half mile away from its current headquarters in Brampton. The $20 million investment includes the renovation of an existing facility and will add approximately 50 new jobs over the next 18 months, with plans to add more in the future, company officials said. Peel Plastics is still determining how many pouch lines they will have at the new facility.
“This will formally put us as, I believe, one of the only North American pouch manufacturers to offer the dual side-gusset capacity at two separate facilities,” Liberman says.
The company anticipates having the first 50,000 square feet ready for production by early 2017, with phase two finished by early 2018.
“Our appetite for innovation and the rate at which we can turn those great ideas into practical solutions for our brand owners is having a big impact on our ability to be successful,” Liberman says. “We stay focused on the markets that we believe we excel in. We’re quite comfortable being experts at a few less things than reasonably good at a bunch of things.”
Peel Plastic Products