supplier scrabble pieces

Four Questions to Ask When Selecting Packaging Material Suppliers


Google “packaging suppliers” and 904 million results appear. Everywhere brand managers and packaging engineers turn, new materials, products, and suppliers are available and dubbed “the best solution on the market.”

So, where do you begin? How do you sort out the ideal packaging partner from the endless sea of suppliers currently on the market?

By considering key qualities of your packaging suppliers—specialty solutions offered, relevant certifications, and opportunities for mutually beneficial partnerships—brands can identify the best packaging suppliers for the job.

Here are a few questions to ask when vetting new packaging suppliers.

1. What specialty packaging solutions do you offer?

First, brands should consider what specifications packaging must adhere to. Does the product require child-resistant features? Is recyclability a major factor for your customers when making purchasing decisions?

Special packaging features require suppliers that understand the problem you are trying to solve. By identifying key features and benefits, brands can narrow the field of suppliers and consider only the partners who can meet their specific needs.

As a packaging supplier, the Fresh-Lock team looks to add value in any way we can to better serve our partners, and one measure we take is continuously innovating our specialty solutions. For example, in response to consumer demand for sustainable packaging solutions, the Fresh-Lock team developed a fully recyclable zipper in the 8000 Series, which was debuted at PACK EXPO Las Vegas in 2019.

Because the Fresh-Lock team proactively developed a sustainable solution, it was able to meet the specific needs of Bear Naked® granola, a Kellogg Company product. The team worked in collaboration with other industry leaders, including Berry Global, Dow® Chemical, and Colormasters, to create a fully recyclable flexible pouch for the brand to advance sustainability initiatives.

The ability to offer customized solutions is a major sign of supplier credibility.

2. How are your packaging solutions advancing markets?

This is a very important question to ask a potential packaging supplier. As a packager, you must remain at the forefront of packaging innovations, especially in markets that have seen little change over the decades or are facing increased calls for safe and sustainable solutions. Pharmaceuticals, for example, have historically been packaged in rigid containers like plastic bottles and blister packs. However, when these rigid containers are fitted with child-resistant closures, they can sometimes be difficult for seniors to access.

The Fresh-Lock® Child-Guard® Track & Slider has transformed the flexible packaging industry since its introduction more than five years ago, offering a federally compliant and effective child-resistant solution for the laundry, gardening, and pool chemical markets. Major flexible packaging advancements in all of these markets, especially pharmaceuticals, are on the horizon, and Child-Guard® is leading the way. By making pharmaceutical packaging easier to open and close, Child-Guard® is providing an effective and safe solution previously unavailable to consumers and brands.

flexible reclosable packaging for garden and detergent

Keep in mind that offering a new solution is not the end of it. Packagers and suppliers should always be looking to improve upon their own innovations to further advance their products in the market. For example, Fresh-Lock® child-resistant zipper style 8511 was developed to offer the security of a child-resistant closure with the benefits of closure recyclability. A supplier should show that they are continuously evolving their packaging technologies to meet the needs of today’s market challenges.

Fresh-Lock child-resistant zipper style 8511

Fresh-Lock®child-resistant zipper style 8511

3. Do you hold any relevant certifications or memberships?

Third-party certifications and industry memberships are another great indicator of supplier experience and expertise. Be sure to ask suppliers if they meet the requirements of certain certifications that may be relevant or required for your brands.

For example, in order to be truly considered “child-resistant,” the closure on the pouch must adhere to the legal requirements as stated in the Poison Prevention Packaging Act, Title 16 CFR 1700. ASTM International also established guidelines for child-resistant packaging through its ASTM D3475 classification.

Similarly, packaging for potentially corrosive materials, such as pool chemicals, must feature high-performance film materials that meet the requirements of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

4. How can you help enhance or optimize our manufacturing efforts?

Brands should also look to material suppliers that can create an impact beyond the package to benefit your operation. These types of opportunities can occur throughout the entire product lifecycle. Transportation benefits like reduced truck loads or fewer greenhouse gas emissions during production are opportunities that should be sought from the very beginning of your partnerships if sustainability is one of your top priorities.

flexible packaging production facility

The Fresh-Lock® Green Spool Program is an excellent example of this. The program provides options for zipper spool reusability or recyclability, which allows brands to further reduce plastic waste. With the Green Spool Program, manufacturers receive a $1 credit toward future purchases for every spool returned, washed, and reused. When spools cannot be reused, they are disassembled and returned to the Fresh-Lock® plant, where they are recycled into new, single-use spools, preventing them from ending up in a landfill. Plus, the Fresh-Lock® brand pays the shipping costs so manufacturers incur no expense.

Optimizing your manufacturing efforts requires a holistic view of your entire operation, including the suppliers you work with, so ask them what kinds of programs or opportunities they offer for increased efficiencies.

Partners in Packaging

As the packaging industry continues to advance, finding the right suppliers can ensure brands don’t get left behind. An ideal material supplier, like the Fresh-Lock® brand, should be able to not only meet the specific needs of your packaging but also answer any questions you have in a complete and timely manner. Customer service and the ability to be a partner is often just as important as the materials itself.

Ready to work with an active partner and packaging problem solver? Contact the Fresh-Lock team today to learn more about innovative, sustainable, and child-resistant closure solutions.

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