The power of pouches

Commercial producers of food and beverage products in Africa seldom have access to bottling and canning facilities which would give their products increased shelf life for both local and export markets because these facilities entail high set-up and input costs. But these producers are increasingly solving the problem by packaging in pouches.
{mosimage}Commercial producers of food and beverage products in Africa seldom have access to bottling and canning facilities which would give their products increased shelf life for both local and export markets because these facilities entail high set-up and input costs. But these producers are increasingly solving the problem by packaging in pouches.
The costs of setting up pouch-filling facilities can be lower than $5,000 and the packaging material is relatively cheap and transported flat.
A small, manual pouch form-fill-and-seal machine which has the capacity to fill 12-22 sachet pouches per minute (depending on the operator and product) costs about $3,000. Such a machine includes a sealer and basic measuring system, saysNiel Esterhuizen, sales director of ZME Filling & Labelling Machines.
A full automated machine with a capacity to fill 30-80/minute costs $11,000 upwards. He says the fully automated machines are in strong demand in Africa, for packaging of products for local and neighbouring-country export markets.
There are two basic kinds of pouches – sachet pouches which are particularly used in Africa for packaging liquids – but increasingly also for other products – and stand-up pouches (doy packs).
ZME, which supplies all kinds of packaging machines, says that sachet pouches are still far more popular than doy packs in Africa – mainly because doy packs are more expensive both for set-up and ongoing material supply.
Doy packs are more applicable where presentation is more important and cost/price less so. Labels can be stuck on, so the filler does not need other equipment for this.
They can also be offered with a re-openable zipper.
Doy packs are most applicable where products are sold on supermarkets shelves. Supermarkets are, however, not the dominant method of distribution to consumers in Africa.
Doy packs are also sometimes used – again because of their superior presentation capabilities – for export purposes. However, most African food/beverage products which are exported are packed for retail in the destination countries.
It was, however, advantages like these which last year prompted Foodcorp of Zambia to switch its packaging from steel cans and glass bottles into stand-up pouches. It is now packaging its entire product range – tomato paste, jam and fruit juice – in stand-up pouches. Its four-head filling system fills into 70ml and 200ml stand-up pouches at speeds of about 60 packs per minute.
Foodcorp Zambia had been importing glass containers and cans from Zimbabwe and Tanzania – and suffering from high transport costs and high breakages (of glass).
According to Bobby Blows, commercial director of Abtech of Cape Town, a minimum-level semi- automated doy pack filling system costs around $20,000.
ZME Filling & Labelling Machine: szme@yebo.co.za Tel +27 12 8041866; Fax +27 12 8044020
ABTECH: abtechcc@iafrica.com Tel +27 21 3864594; Fax +27 21 3865039
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