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It’s true, less really is more…

| Economic factors

The number of single-occupancy households in South Africa is on the rise, and it is that social shift that is driving the change in the way that food, including snacks and confectionery, is consumed.

In fact, the most recent data shows that out of all households in the country, single-occupancy homes have increased from 16% overall in 1996 to 18% in 2007. This rate is predicted to increase in the future.

Furthermore, the current level of disposable income in the country is also going through a challenging period, with salaries in many areas not keeping up with the rising inflation levels.

With fluctuating salary levels and the rising number of single households, attitudes are changing and customers are seeking a more convenient, cost-effective way of buying their food, snacks and pharmaceutical products – in the form of smaller, single-serve packs.

With fewer mouths to feed, and less money to spend, the need to buy bulk products to feed a family of four, for example, is quickly becoming redundant, which for manufacturers means that smaller packaging is required.

While packaging us changing, the pack styles themselves in terms of shapes and sizes, still need to be appealing and stand out to keep producers ahead of their competition. As a result, manufacturers need solutions that adapt quickly to changing consumer preferences.

What do consumers want?

Consumers will still be looking for appealing, interesting pack styles that leap off the shelf, except this time in a smaller form and at a lower price. One particular pack style that has recently gained great traction with consumers across the globe – particularly in the confectionery, nuts and chocolate markets – is stand up pouches, or doy packs as they are also known. These packs also provide a recloseable option, which is ideal for the busy modern day consumer who will now be able to eat smaller portions on-the-go, saving the rest for later. The global stand-up pouches market is projected to reach $33,4 billion by 2020.

Additionally, nutritional snacks, such as protein bars, have also seen a significant rise in demand, especially over the past few years. Often packaged in the popular flow-wrap style, nutritional health bars grew 34% between 2011 and 2013, reaching a market value of $2,2 billion.

Bosch Packaging Technology, a leading supplier of processing and packaging solutions, has observed these shifts in packaging behaviour, noting that products such as coffee, pharmaceuticals, shampoo and condiments in particular, now need to be available in smaller, individual, packs – such as sachets and stick packs – perfect for the single household or consumer. Small, affordable and ready portioned, they enable consumers to try different products and brands at more affordable prices.

What does this mean for manufacturers?

Manufacturers need to react quickly to these different trends and attitudes, scaling up or down depending on demand and consumer preference. That is when the true value of a company’s packaging machinery comes under the spotlight. For instance, with the increasing popularity of doy-style packs, manufacturers were previously required to invest in horizontal machine lines, plus the additional cost of using pre-made doy packs.

Luckily for producers, this packaging industry challenge has now been overcome with the latest innovation from Bosch. The recently launched SVE 2520 DZ vertical bagger with doy-zip functionality allows for the production of 100 bags per minute. The breakthrough now means that Southern African producers can meet consumer demands, quickly, without having to break the bank.

For Southern African manufacturers in particular, many companies are now looking to begin or enhance their journey into the world of packaging. It’s therefore crucial to choose a packaging partner with global experience ranging from entry-level to mid-range automation, right through to high-speed packaging solutions.

Another vital element to running a successful, profitable, operation is the amount of support received from your machinery producer and their response times, after all in every industry - time is money. It’s widely understood that a single machine can put an entire line out of operation, and even an hour per day downtime over the course of a year will cause any manufacturer a serious financial headache. Having support and service teams on the ground and able to assist with parts and support advice quickly is therefore the final essential ingredient for success.

About the Author

Steffen Manke is the general manager at Bosch Packaging Technology, South Africa.

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