MIAMI — There are a couple of different ways to package goods in pouches.
Companies can fill preformed pouches, or they can use what are called form-fill-seal machines that not only create pouches from roll stock but then also fill those pouches.
So the question is which way is better?
All depends, according to a panel of speakers at the recent Global Pouch Forum in Miami.
“I think what we've always said is that you have to evaluate your volume vs. your investment,” said Luis De la Mora, vice president of sales and marketing of flexibles at Bossar USA Inc., a maker of pouch machines.
Machines filling preformed pouches are less expensive, maybe 25 to 30 percent less, but the pouches themselves cost more.
With form-fill-seal machines, the packaging costs less, but the machine is more expensive.
So it really comes down to volume as well as the price of the product being packaged.
With low-priced products, every penny counts when it comes to profitability, De la Mora said.
But with larger packaging, that can contain more expensive products, there can be more room to invest in more expensive preform pouches thanks to higher profit margins.
Because of the different products involved, Stewart Horspool, a product manager for packaging machine maker AcmaVolpak, said the right choice for a company is dependent on a particular application.
“It's not a matter of which one is better, but which one works best,” he said, for an individual product.
For consumer packaged goods companies, making the leap from rigid containers to flexible pouches also can be a daunting move, especially if they switch to a form-fill-seal approach that involves the construction of the package on the same machine that fills and seals.
“Making pouches for the first time is not easy, and people are afraid because the waste may be high or operators may not be comfortable. And if you are talking about people making the jump from rigid to flexible, that's a big deal. That's a big deal,” De la Mora said.
Consumer product goods companies sometimes only are comfortable with simply receiving and filling containers with their products, he said.
Very high volume products can afford to amortize the higher cost of a form-fill-seal machine, when compared to a preformed pouch machine, over the large amount of units being produced, De la Mora said. But with lower volumes, it could be more ultimately more cost effective to use premade pouches despite their higher costs.
“There really is no formula, you really have to go specific,” he said.