When its time to snack, Americans prefer the pouch

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General Mills Inc. General Mills Inc. is increasingly using flexible packaging.
Jim Johnson Miller

Miami — “Snackification” of America is presenting opportunities for flexible packaging, a packaging official at one of the nation’s largest food company says.

Busy people are increasingly relying on snacks to replace formal meals, said Tom Miller, packaging systems development manager for General Mills Inc.

“General Mills has a tremendous passion for the pouch. We’re extremely excited about what this community brings to us as far as options and alternatives,” Miller said at the recent Global Pouch Forum in Miami. “It allows us to address those consumer trends that we see. It allows us to continue to adapt and change.”

General Mills, Miller said, has adapted continuously over its 150 years, and the growing use of pouches is part of that adaptation today to meet the changing eating habits of Americans.

The packaging manager pointed to the repackaging of one well-known product to as an example of how pouches can create savings and change an established brand.

General Mills Inc. General Mills' Totino's brand pizzas are now sold in a flexible pouch, rather than a combination of cardboard and plastic.

The company’s Totino’s brand pizzas, he said, have transitioned from a round pie in square paper box packaging to a rectangular pizza in flexible rectangular packaging.

The move to “pizza in a pouch,” Miller said, also has resulted in logistics savings, material reduction, manufacturing efficiencies, increased shelf presence and improved shelf efficiency, he told the crowd.

Miller told the audience that there are a variety of factors that go into transitioning a product to a pouch format.

“The good news is that when it all fits together and it all works well, it drives tremendous success,” he said. The transition “has driven tremendous benefits and savings for us.”

But companies, both flexible packaging makers and consumer packaged goods companies, must understand the needs of the customer before diving into a format change, Miller said.

“It’s best to focus on the customer,” he said. “If you put the customer first, you know you are going to succeed.”

“General Mills has that passion for the pouch. We have that passion for the flexible film industry. We know that in order to win,” Miller said, the company must “find solutions to meet changing consumer demands.”