Disposable Food Packaging Products

Maximizing Efficiency with Flexible Packaging Suppliers

The flexible packaging industry has seen tremendous growth over the last decade. As companies aim to meet consumer demand for convenience and sustainability, the use of flexible packaging solutions has skyrocketed across sectors. Choosing an efficient flexible packaging supplier is key for brands looking to maximize productivity and growth. This article will explore best practices for partnering with flexible packaging suppliers, key supplier capabilities to look for, and how to build efficient, long-term relationships.

With the flexible packaging market expected to reach $383 billion by 2027, brands have tremendous opportunity through the use of innovative flexible packaging solutions and strategic partnerships with flexible packaging suppliers. However, the supplier landscape is complex, and it’s vital to find a flexible packaging company that can keep pace with production targets and support business goals. By focusing on core supplier capabilities, operational excellence, and collaborative relationships, brands can maximize efficiencies when working with flexible packaging division suppliers.


Operational excellence is paramount

When evaluating a potential flexible packaging supplier, assessing their operational excellence is one of the most critical areas brands should analyze. What good is an innovative packaging concept if your flexible packaging division can’t execute it consistently? Leading flexible packaging suppliers should demonstrate best-in-class quality management, continuous improvement programs, and supply chain transparency.

Several markers of an operationally excellent flexible packaging company include:

  • ISO certification and adherence to industry quality standards
  • Consistency in meeting product specifications
  • Minimal variation between production runs
  • Transparent reporting and measurement practices

Many suppliers promoting the latest packaging formats struggle with capacity constraints and meeting deadlines. Partnering with an established flexible packaging company that has a track record of operational discipline will minimize production risks and quality issues down the line. It provides a foundation to then collaborate on innovation initiatives, further strengthening the partnership.


Assessing technical expertise and testing capabilities

In addition to operational excellence, brands should seek out flexible packaging suppliers with specialized technical expertise related to film substrates, printing, lamination, and other conversion capabilities. Leading flexible packaging companies invest heavily in R&D and continuously expand their technical abilities across materials, printing technologies, graphics, pigments, machinery, and testing protocols.

Supplier testing and measurement capabilities are especially crucial for regulated sectors like food and pharmaceuticals. Evaluating the testing technology a flexible packaging company has in-house can be an indicator of its commitment to technical advancement. Some testing capabilities to explore include:

  • Shelf-life testing
  • Seal strength testing
  • Gas and moisture permeability testing
  • Print quality measurements like colour gamut mapping
  • Film thickness and coverage uniformity
  • Seal and contaminant detection through X-ray and vision technologies

Having certified testing labs and personnel on staff allows for efficient design confirmation and rapid optimization during scale-up phases. It also ensures packaging performance will align with product requirements throughout production runs. Brands should seek out flexible packaging suppliers, continually upgrading their technical abilities to translate into measurable efficiencies.


Drive collaboration for mutual success

The most efficient relationships between brands and their flexible packaging suppliers are grounded in collaboration and mutual benefit. Instead of treating suppliers purely as vendors, leading companies engage frequently to drive alignment and tackle challenges as partners.

By taking a collaborative approach, brands and their flexible packaging company can enhance speed to market for new products, optimize packaging line efficiencies, and innovate on new packaging formats.

Ensuring frequent communication through cross-functional teams and executive leadership establishes relationships where both parties are invested in joint success. Partnerships based on trust and transparency around capabilities, constraints, and business objectives cultivate an ecosystem for collaboration.

Hands-on collaboration via packaging prototyping, design sprints, and on-site support during packaging qualification also boosts efficiency during the launch phases. Having suppliers engage directly with internal stakeholders builds rapport and ensures designs transition smoothly to production.


Evaluate sustainability capabilities and experience

Sustainability continues to be top of mind for brands across every industry. Consumers increasingly prefer packaging that has responsible material sourcing, recyclability properties, and minimal waste. When selecting a flexible packaging supplier, it’s important to understand their experience and capabilities related to sustainable packaging solutions.

Leading flexible packaging companies are investing in the use of recycled content, renewable materials like bio-based polyethene, and technologies that enhance recyclability. Suppliers at the forefront of sustainable packaging innovation can bring new solutions for reducing a packaging footprint.

Potential areas to explore with a supplier include:

  • Experience designing reusable, recyclable, and compostable packaging
  • Use of recycled resins and bio-based materials in films
  • Involvement with closed-loop collection programs and chemical recycling
  • Carbon footprint measurement and waste reduction initiatives
  • Education programs for brands and consumers on recycling

By partnering with an engaged, knowledgeable, flexible packaging supplier in sustainable packaging, brands can stay ahead of policy and regulations while meeting consumer preferences.


Leverage supplier design and engineering support

Beyond manufacturing capabilities, leading flexible packaging suppliers also provide upstream design and engineering services for brands. This expertise can drive tremendous efficiencies during packaging, conception, prototyping, and qualification steps.

Engineering support may include a design for manufacturability assessments, structural analysis via simulation and modelling, graphics rendering, and visualization. Expert supplier engineers help optimize packaging formats to balance functionality, cost, and appearance while mitigating risk during scale-up.

For maximum efficiency, brands should engage packaging technicians, engineers, and designers from flexible packaging partners early in development. Applying material and manufacturing expertise upfront allows rapid iteration of concepts and the avoidance of downstream issues.

Close collaboration between brand owners and flexible packaging companies during design finalization also ensures the accuracy of specifications, graphics, and construction details, which prevents errors upon first production trials. Relying on supplier technical teams is something brands of all sizes and verticals can utilize to optimize packaging efficiency.


As brands seek out innovative packaging to achieve strategic goals, selecting flexible packaging suppliers with operational excellence, technical expertise, and a spirit of collaboration is key to maximizing efficiency. Taking the time to thoroughly assess supplier capabilities, drive transparent communication, and nurture partnerships beyond simple vendor relationships pays dividends across packaging development, qualification, and commercialization. Brands that focus on these critical areas with their flexible packaging company will be best positioned to meet consumer demands with speed and quality.

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