Bend it, shape it

24 April 2017

Bend it, shape it

Bend it, shape it

Flexible packaging is the fastest growing packaging format thanks to its lightweight, multifunctional characteristics. Perfectly suited to the ever-growing snacking sector as well as a whole host of other applications, flexible packaging is showing no signs of slowing down. Emma-Jane Batey speaks to some of the new brands that are embracing flexible packaging.

Comprising everything including pouches, sachets, bags and wrappers, flexible packaging certainly lives up to its name, offering an easy way to package products of different shapes, sizes and volumes. While issues with the recyclability of flexible packaging prevail, its convenience and increasingly innovative capabilities make the format a popular choice.

 The healthy choice


The rapidly growing snacking sector loves flexible packaging. Easy to transport thanks to its light weight, it allows brands to create packaging that can be perfectly in tune with its product identity. Take protein-bar company Squirrel Sisters. This London-based hip and healthy brand is excited to do things differently – but not for its own sake.

Squirrel Sisters has already changed its packaging three times as, thanks to doing pretty much everything in-house, it can approach its business as flexibly as its packaging.

Co-founder Gracie Tyrrell tells Packaging Today, “We are a health brand but what we are all about is making ‘healthy’ fun and tasty. We didn't want to have packaging that looked boring and typically 'healthy' – we wanted to create packaging that people would be excited to pick up, feel proud to have on them and look forward to eating the bar. A lot of health-product packaging can look very clinical and basic, and we wanted to change this, but didn't want people to feel like they were missing out or be embarrassed to be seen choosing a healthy option.”

With no-refined-sugar and low/no-carb eating a major trend in the snacking sector, Squirrel Sisters' protein bars are certainly in the right place at the right time – and they look great, too. The flexible packaging chosen to wrap the little tray that keeps two 20g bars  safe (available in Cacao Orange,  Raspberry Ripple, Cacao Brownie and Coconut Cashew variants) and sound has been designed with care and skill. Gracie continues, “We talked extensively about how we wanted our brand to be seen – fun, exciting, eye-catching and premium. We've changed the packaging three times already because when we started, it was a lot larger. Initially, we could only source a tray that was slightly larger than we wanted, which meant the outer flexible packaging had to be bigger, and this was a problem because customers felt they weren't getting value. This was never our intention. Eventually we found a solution – a tray that was much smaller – and you'd be surprised how long this took. We also added some more information to the front of the pack with a little tab that has health info about being dairy-free and gluten-free.”

Flexible for all


It's not just grown-ups who are increasingly falling in love with healthy snacking at home and on the go. Kids – well, their parents – are more aware than ever that smart choices count when it comes to snacks, as well as meals and beverages. Leading baby and toddler food brand Little Dish has just launched a brand new snacking product to join its “much-loved range of award-winning toddler meals, snacks, soups and pizzas”.

The North-London-based ‘healthy-food-for-kids’ brand brought its Go Gos snacks to market in 2016, and the chia seed and oat crackers quickly gained fans in parents and children. At the end of February 2017, Pop Pops joined the Little Dish family and, with each 17g bag containing 26% less salt than the average salt content of crisps often given to children, is a healthier choice.

Nutritionist Lucy Jones, who developed the range with Little Dish, says, “Crisps often feature in parents' quick-fix snack options and are loved by children. While fine as a treat, generally, crisps are high in fat and salt, low in essential nutrients and therefore aren't a useful addition to our everyday diets. Pop Pops are a healthier savoury snack. A 17g bag provides a source of protein and is high in fibre, plus it’s low in saturated fat.” Made with 40% chickpeas, Pop Pops are available in Original, Cheese, Sweet Red Pepper and Tomato flavours, and feature the brand's popular 'Zoo Crew' characters.

The brand strategy and vibrant visual identity of the Pop Pops' packaging was created by design agency Pearlfisher. Acting creative director Dan Gladden explains, “Inspired by the light nature of the air-popped snack, the new Pop Pops visual language takes the brand into the air with visual iconography based on popping bubbles, evocative of the playfulness of children. We used a consistent, plain background for all four variants so that the nature of the product boldly 'pops' out of the colourful logo whilst an illustration depicting each flavour is simply but boldly drawn in pop circles across the pack. The new packaging once again champions Little Dish's playful and popular Zoo Crew characters to reinforce a sense of vibrancy, interaction and interest for children – as well as aiding recognition across categories.”


 Pick a pouch


Flexible packaging also brings us pouches, which are increasingly the packaging of choice for smoothies, drinks and sauces. Fashionable British Asian-food chain itsu has adopted the resealable pouch for its launch of own-brand miso soup, sold in its popular restaurants and in large supermarkets, Ocado and Amazon.

Alice Sandelson, itsu brand manager, tells Packaging Today, “All itsu products are innovative and unique, and this includes the packaging. itsu miso-soup pouches were the first of their kind – existing miso soups on the market were sold in boxes. itsu chose a pouch format (with three miso soup sachets included) with retailers and consumers in mind. itsu pouches have great shelf stand-out, can be sold on clip strips, are flat for easy storage for consumers at home and are resealable.”

Alice continues, “They are made from a high-quality material with a matt finish to reflect the premium quality of the product inside. itsu as a brand consistently uses clean, minimalist packaging and tries to make its products as accessible to a UK consumer as possible by keeping the product name as simple yet descriptive, while highlighting its key claims: made with paste, not powder, and less than 44 calories a serving.”

So as brands increasingly look to engage with their consumers, in terms of making healthier choices and to appeal to their style conscience, flexible packaging is able to offer big ticks in both boxes

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