Continued growth in the flexible packaging industry, including pouch packaging, is being fueled by two developments: increasing consumer demands for convenient packages, and an industry push for sustainable shelf-ready product designs, according to the Flexible Packaging Assessment Report from PMMI, The Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies.

Changing lifestyles, along with increased consumer travel, has created a need for convenient packaging solutions. Pillow pouch demand is rising due to versatility in being able to package liquids, solids and powders. Stand-up pouches will also see growth due to the increasing demand in the candy industry.

Confectionery companies investing in new pouch packaging technology are looking for machines that address their four primary needs:

  1. Flexibility
  2. Speed
  3. Sustainability
  4. Automation

The flexibility to handle a variety of sizes and styles is key, along with the ability to accommodate faster changeovers. In fact, 42 percent of manufacturers interviewed for the PMMI report are changing from mass production to mass customization or small batch production. This production style requires machines and systems capable of quick changeovers to reduce the downtime required to prepare machines for the next product or packaging to run on the same line.

As package sizes are shrinking, candy makers are looking at speed of operation to keep volume high. Many companies responding to the survey that provided data for the report stated that current flexible packaging machines are not fast enough even at speeds of 180 pouches per minute. They are looking for rates close to 300-400 pouches per minute.

Producing less waste and consuming less energy are considerations when sourcing machines for pouch packaging. Energy consumption accounts for 12 percent of total production cost, so confectionery manufacturers seek improvements in production processes that reduce emissions and lower energy consumption. In today’s sustainability-conscious environment, pouch packaging is a smart choice for manufacturers looking to reduce their carbon footprint. Pouch packaging is compact compared to rigid packaging allowing the transport of a larger quantity of products in a single truck.

And lastly, companies foresee an increased use of automation, especially in areas where labor can be expensive and difficult to source. Manufacturers are investing in automated bagging machines (ABS) that open, fill, weigh and seal stand up pouches. An ABS machine can typically package up to 15 bags per minute of dry flowable product. The made-to-order, customizable ABS usually provides full ROI within one year, according to respondents to the PMMI survey. Robotic case packaging and palletizing also continue to grow as manufacturers claim it is the most efficient way to meet end-of-line demands for a variety of SKUs, shapes and sizes.

Candy manufacturers looking to find the right pouch packaging technology or see the latest pouch innovations can find solutions at PACK EXPO East 2020 (March 3-5; Pennsylvania Convention Center, Philadelphia).

With over 100,000 net square feet of exhibit space, this three-day event will bring together 7,000 attendees, with 400 companies showcasing new technologies. PACK EXPO East attendees will enjoy all the educational and networking opportunities traditionally offered at PACK EXPO while allowing for more face-to-face time with exhibitors to find applicable answers. Visit PACK EXPO East and get in on the cannabis packaging discussion.

For more information and to register, visit