The fastest growing single-serve option, stick packs, are rapidly becoming the most convenient format for on-the-go powdered and granulated beverages. Story by Claire Phoenix.
Easy to carry in the pocket, briefcase or handbag, the stick pack format has taken off, not just for coffee, creamers, sweeteners and sugar, but also for liquid beverage enhancers and vitamin supplements in concentrated beverage format.
They're easy to open, easy to pour and above all offer savings on packaging material in comparison with standard sachets and other convenience packs.
There's enormous potential in this sector for products ranging from instant coffee, concentrated beverages, beauty products, condiments and the rapidly growing area of pharmaceuticals and nutraceuticals. As a pre-measured dose, it certainly makes life easier for the consumer.
Companies involved in this sector include Oystar, Stickpack Europe, Ampac, AlliedFlex, Bossar, Pouch Alliance, CLP Packaging Solutions, Floeter, HB Fuller, InterGroup International, PTI and Menshen Packaging.
Others include PPI Technologies, Korozo, Mondi, MultiSorb, Plast Corporation, ElPlast, Resin Technology, Sun Chemical, ZipBox and Zip-Pak, Clondalkin Group, Moore&Buckle etc.
There are also companies offering films and coatings to improve performance and meet regulations, such as Michelman, TPL, CFP and BPI, with films ranging from high 'metallised' barrier hot fill films to bioplastics and sustainable PET solutions.
Space and material saving
When it comes to milk in individual servings, fully aseptic stick packs offer considerable savings in terms of materials used, and in machine terms when it comes to floor space and energy used in comparison with the traditional foil-lidded cups.
The modern stick pack machine can produce sticks up to 60mm wide and in tube format, enabling machinery to be provided up to eight lanes wide, filling similar products to those that can be filled on small-format pouch machines.
Liquids and powders can often be filled on the same machine, with a 10-minute width changeover time, and line speeds from 20-1,200 per minute depending on specification.
Over the last few years, there has been high demand for startup companies looking to package their products in stick pack quantities as low as 5,000.
Stick packs allow customers with small orders to sample their new products while saving on costs. Production lead times are much shorter, as the only requirement is the pre-printed film. This shrinks the supply chain as well as reducing component costs. The rolls of film are also more compact and require less warehouse space than bottles, caps and cans.
Growth in lower calorie products in stick format
US-based T.H.E.M, in conjunction with Japan’s Sanko Stick Pack Machinery Co and Power Packaging Group, has been producing stick packs since 1996.
The company has experience and expertise in a wide range of product applications across many market segments, including beverage and dairy applications, and offers North American marketers affordable access to complete, flexible packaging solutions.
This alliance allows clients to minimise capital and startup costs with low-risk access to flexible packaging. Low-calorie products such as the Totally Light 2 Go range illustrate latest moves into the mainstream low-calorie sector.
Claire Phoenix is FoodBev Media managing editor – magazines.
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