Standup Dispensing Pouches Are Popular, But Are They Safe? Companies Say Yes.

December 9, 2013

Standup pouch demand will grow 3.6% annually and reach $8.2 billion in the United States by 2017, says Freedonia Group’s new report.

Standup dispensing pouches are fun to use and convenient to tote, but are they safe? Standup pouch demand-including squeezable pouches with drinking spouts-will grow 3.6% annually and reach $8.2 billion in the United States by 2017, says Freedonia Group’s new report, “Converted Flexible Packaging.” Still, Nutritional Outlook wonders, will negative headlines this past fall involving organic baby food-in-a-pouch brands Plum Organics and Earth’s Best hurt the positive image pouch packaging has built with consumers in the nutrition space?

Not at all, say the few industry members we interviewed. When asked about the safety of pouch packaging, Janie Hoffman, CEO and founder of chia food brand Mamma Chia, said her company believes pouch packaging is very safe. Earlier this year, the company launched a chia-to-go snack in a squeezable pouch.

“It is our understanding that there was a relatively small number of defective pouches that were made for Plum. We have not experienced any defects to date,” she added, when we asked about a voluntary recall by Plum Organics this November of some of its baby food pouches. Some of the company’s pouches were found to be swelling on the shelf due to what the company said was a “manufacturing defect that may cause spoilage in some pouches.”

Soon after Plum Organics made the news with its voluntary recall, Earth’s Best organic baby food made news after a user posted a video on Facebook claiming to have found live maggots in an Earth’s Best baby food pouch. (In response, the CEO of The Hain Celestial Group, which owns Earth’s Best, explained how the company looked into the matter and did not find evidence to support the claim.)

We also asked flexible packaging supplier Glenroy Inc. (Menomonee Falls, WI) whether it is seeing pouch demand grow, and about the safety of pouches in general.

Amanda Dahlby, Glenroy, marketing manager, said the company has seen “explosive growth” in pouches, especially standup pouches with fitments. (The company did not supply the pouches for Plum Organics, Earth's Best, or Mamma Chia.)

“We are seeing applications that we never would have dreamed of being well suited for flexible packaging,” she added. For instance, Glenroy recently manufactured what it says is the first-ever standup pouch for an oil for the U.S. power sports industry.

“I expect pouch packaging to continue to grow in usage and that is because it provides a very good format for keeping goods protected and well preserved,” Dahlby added.

In fact, Freedonia’s report even notes that category growth will come specifically because of “technology advances to enhance shelf life and protect the package from bacterial and other potential contaminants.” (The Earth’s Best CEO noted that, during baby food manufacture, fruits and vegetables are processed under very high temperatures, and that this heat treatment would kill any type of living larvae.)

Hoffman said Mamma Chia will continue to work in pouches. “The pouch format is definitely a homerun for Mamma Chia, and we anticipate the demand continuing to soar. In fact, we are adding two new flavors in early 2014.”