We recently caught up with Jesse Rosenow, Totani America’s sales engineer of technical products, for a discussion on pouch-making in eCommerce, pre-made pouch machines and why cannabis could be the next big market for pouches. 

Q: What’s new in the world of bag/pouch making? What will Totani have on display at PACK EXPO this year?

A: Digital printing and sustainability seem to be driving factors of new innovations in converting. These are leading to advancements in quick changeover tooling, improved machine running data acquisition, and higher quality film tracking and print registration. At PACK EXPO this year Totani (Booth E-7124) will be showcasing its BH-60DL52SC two-lane, standup pouch machine with zipper and inserted bottom gusset. This machine will be highlighted by our Top-Bottom Registration System for maintaining print registration of two separately printed main web rolls (perfect for the narrow web printer) and our high-speed Thomson Die-Cut unit for shaped pouches (at a max rate of 200 cycles/minute). We will also have our extremely popular CT-60DL52SC (one-lane standup pouch machine with zipper and plowed bottom gusset) running in Presto’s booth (S-2130). We will be showing two-lane, three-side seal operation while applying Presto’s mini-slider to both lanes utilizing its new high-speed applicator.

Q: To date, what’s the most unique thing that one of your customers has packaged in a pouch? Are there any applications that you think are on the cusp of pouch packaging?

A: Due to recent changes in legalization around the country, I would have to say cannabis-based products. With the development of tear-proof films and child-resistant closure options, flexible packaging has been a go-to for many companies looking to distribute their products. We have experienced a growing demand for machinery capable of producing these kinds of pouches and don’t see this slowing down anytime soon considering the ever-changing regulations of these kind of products.

The cereal industry seems to always be on the fringe of moving to pouch packaging as well. The traditionally used bag-in-box is on its way out in other markets, and cereal could be in line to be the next mover. We have already seen some high-end cereals and granola products move the way of flexible packaging in order to stand out on the shelves. Recent improvements to reclosable and recyclable features could be enough to push bigger brand cereal towards the pouch.

Q: You mentioned in a previous Q&A that the Box Pouch is still being widely utilized in diverse and wide-ranging applications. Why do you think this format has become so beloved and utilized?

A: It has to be its shelf presence. The five-panel design provides the pouch with additional branding space which can allow for the pouch to be stood up or laid down on the shelf. Since the Box Pouch can have print registration on all five panels, there is no limit to what information can be presented to the consumer. On a similar note, since the side gusset on the Totani Box Pouch is made using a separate web, this can be made clear to show the consumer the contents of the package. From the CPGs, we have heard the product filling benefits as well as the shelf presence benefits. This provides a huge upside over traditional rigid packaging of a similar shape.

Q: What role — if any – do you think eCommerce is playing in bag/pouch making?

A: Flexible packaging today is a perfect fit for eCommerce. Having the benefit of being “flexible” compared to rigid packages allows for bags/pouches to better fit inside of cardboard boxes. This has the potential to save drastically on shipping costs, since one can save space by utilizing flexible packages. Where there may be changes seen in the near future is with printing. Without the need for eye-catching graphics for shelf-presence, we may soon see some packages go a more simplistic route with just necessary information (barcode, ingredients, brand name, etc.) on the package.

Q: What’s something that a lot of people might not know about pouch machines, but absolutely should know?

A: The benefits of the pre-made pouch making machine as compared to FFS (form, fill, seal) machines. Certain applications favor FFS systems, however the pre-made process has many advantages and is said to be growing as compared to FFS.

The growing popularity of the pre-made is due in some part to the multiple advantages it has over FFS packages. For example, compared to FFS machines, a Totani Pre-made Pouch Machine makes packages that have greater aesthetic appeal, higher seal integrity, and are made at much higher speeds and efficiencies. While some CPGs favor FFS for certain products, the benefits of pre-made pouches feed their growth over FFS pouches.

Q: Is there anything else you’d care to share about bag/pouch making?

A: Investing in a pouch or bag machine is important for the short and the long term. Quality machines with high-level technical support are more expensive initially, however, they can save money in both short and long term. Quicker start up, and superior training and support can lead to an earlier payback. Quality machines with well-trained operators make superior pouches right away. Leakers or other returns due to poor production can quickly add up and be extremely costly to the converter.