MIAMI — In a word: Hogwash.
Companies that have historically relied on steel cans for their products do not need to radically alter how they do business in order to start taking advantage of the plastic pouch, according to Dennis Calamusa, president of AlliedFlex Technologies Inc., which sells standup pouch machinery.
In other words, change can happen slowly and methodically. But, make no mistake, change is coming.
“You look to the future and you take the first steps for change,” he said at the recent Global Pouch Forum in Miami.
Many large multinational companies “are burdened by the infrastructure that they have. It's very difficult for them to change to something new.
“The easiest thing is to do nothing,” he said, when it comes to packaging changes, and rely on more advertising or promotions to push sales.
But, he added, “Both are a lot more expensive sometimes than to change your packaging format.”
Companies faced with existing canning lines, he said, can start to adopt pouches step-by-step.
“When we hear somebody say, ‘In order for me to get out of a can, I have to throw all of my can lines out and put in all new flexible packaging,' I say hogwash. You take one step at a time. You put products out there and you don't get overwhelmed with what you've' done over 100 years,” he said.
“And that's what we're seeing. We're seeing bold, courageous moves by many, many companies. And the ones that don't change, the ones that don't move, will be left behind,” Calamusa said.
Calamusa, who has been selling pouch machinery for two decades, is seeing companies use what he calls the “power of the pouch” to refresh their product lines and push into new areas of the store.
That can mean putting pouches of croutons in the produce department or pouches of granola cereal in the dairy section, for example.
“You never really saw this when it was cardboard [packaging],” he said. “This is how you sell your product. This is how you reinvent categories.
“I hear a lot of people say, ‘When is the cereal industry going to change?'
“You are seeing a change before your very eyes. OK. It's not throwing everything out that we've done for 50 or 100 years and do something new. It's transitional change,” Calamusa said. “That's the kind of change that our industry is embracing.”