The Ultimate Guide to Pet Food Packaging (2021 Update)

pet food packaging

Pet food packages are meant to keep food fresh and safe. They should be functional and eco-friendly. Safe and healthy pet food packaging is necessary to ensure that the products have a healthy impact on your pet’s life. So you should prepare your packaging carefully and precisely.

According to the American Pet Products Association, the US spent 36.9 billion dollars on pet food and treats in 2019. This figure is expected to grow more in the coming years. These statics show that pet owners are willing to spend more for high-quality pet feed and premium packaging features.

Whenever you think about pet food packaging, the first thought that might come to your mind will be the breed you are going to feature as a graphic. You might also think about the icons which can best showcase the nutrients that lie inside. But always keep in mind that before you picture something, you need to select the right package, whether it is zip closure bags or flat bottom bags. Pet owners come to the pet food aisle with certain expectations for packaging quality. In this article, you will learn everything you need to know about pet food packaging so let’s start.

What are the demands of the brands?

Brand owners always look for something that will differentiate them from various pet food varieties on the shelves. They look for brighter colors, high-end award-winning graphics, and a variety of re-sealable packages. Stand-out graphics, creative package format, unique finishes, and good printing techniques are necessary to make your brand ‘pop’ on the shelf.

The first thing you need to do while working with a brand always delivers your order on time. If you are unable to make deliveries on time, you may lose customers. Plus, brands always try to find pet food manufacturers who can create pet food packaging which is easier to carry, open, and reclose. Brands also demand highly readable print—clear and readable print aids in conveying the nutritional information of the inside products to consumers.

Moreover, there is one more thing that brands want. They want sustainable packaging which can appeal to consumers in a competitive market.

Choose your pet food packaging machine

Versatile packaging machines are available in the market that can produce esthetically appealing and robust packages. They can make packages of various shapes and dimensions. So you don’t need to worry about buying a separate machine for a different design of packages. The most common among these are:

  • Flow pack horizontal machines
  • Vertical form fill and seal machines
  • Multi-head weighing and loading systems

Moreover, pet food is divided into three main categories. The packaging may vary depending upon the type of pet food. Following are the three main categories:

  • Dry pet food
  • Dental sticks
  • Wet pet food

Following are some descriptions of each machine to help you pick the best one.

Flow pack horizontal machines

Flow pack horizontal machines pack the products using a single film coil and three weldings: two cross welding and one longitudinal welding. This type of machine is used by many food and non-food markets. Horizontal machines are used in the packaging of many other products and not just pet food packaging.

Now the question is how this machine works? Well, to summarize the packing process and to put it simply, first of all, the product, pet food, is loaded on the machine. The product moves horizontally in the machine, get wrapped in film, and become sealed at the end by horizontal flow wrapping machines. The machine is relatively easy to use, and you can make many packages in a short amount of time. The only limitation of this machine is that it requires ample floor space.

Vertical form fill and seal machine

Vertical form fill and seal packaging machines are popular in almost every industry because of their benefits. These machines are fast and provide economical packaging solutions that conserve valuable plant floor space.

Now the question arises how do these machines work? Vertical form fill and seal machines are pretty easy to work with. The machines start with a large roll of film, make it into the bag shape, fill the bag with pet food, and seal it. All of these processes occur vertically. Vertical machines can work up to the speed of 300 packs per minute. Due to its high packing speed, many companies often use this machine to produce pet food packages.

Multi-head weighing system and loading system

A multi-head weighing system is a high-performance machine for precise weighing and loading of the product. This system is used in many different industries to pack various types of food products. A multi-head weighing and loading system can make up to 240 packages per minute. Another benefit of this machine is that it can easily pack stick products or highly breakable products like biscuits. So this machine is handy to pack dental sticks and pet biscuits. This machine is also useful in packing wet pet food.

Other products that can be packed using a multi-head weighing and loading system are dried fruits, confectionery, snacks, cereals, pasta, coffee, and frozen foods such as meat, fish, and seafood. Moreover, this machine can also pack metal and plastic parts just as effectively as it can pack other items.

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Choose your pet food packaging bag style

If we look back, paper bags were the most common bags used for pet food packaging. All the companies pack pet food only in paper bags. Many changes have occurred since then, and design options have expanded significantly. Nowadays, brands look for innovative designs to pack pet food in order to make their bag stand out from the rack. Following are some most popular bag styles today that various famous brands use:

  • Stand Up Pouches

Stand up pouches (SUP) are used for packing products that weigh 1 to 8 lbs. Stand up pouches are the most economical option in the market. However, due to mandatory regulatory and government information required and market trends toward higher-end products, two-panel stand-up pouches have lost their popularity. In today’s world, they are used only for packaging pet treats and can be seen on the aisle only in the treats section.

  • Quad seal bags

Quad seal bags are most famous for packing large volumes. They are the economical larger volume bags. Quad seal bags are the best choice for brands who are trying to increase their canvas to 4 panels while remaining cost-effective. You can also feature a re-sealable option in the quad seal bags. If you are looking for quad seal bags, it would be best if you look at the lower shelves because they are mainly found lying down on the lower shelves.

  • Flat bottom bags

Flat bottom bags are the new popularity of the market. These bags are relatively new, and despite the higher prices, people are purchasing them. They are best suited for products from 2 lbs. to 25 lbs. When used for packaging of smaller volumes, the package stands well, providing excellent shelf utilization. For 10-18 lbs. these bags will lay down with their flat bottom facing out. This position provides the perfect face to market your brand with plenty of panels leftover for feeding and nutritional information of the products inside.

  • Pinch bottom bags

Pinch bottom bags come in two types, with or without fold-over bottoms. These bags are ideal for larger volume packages. As you probably know, larger bags are often placed on the lower shelves, so make sure to utilize the bottom 3 to 4 inches of the face. The reason for this is that it is a vantage point from the customer’s viewing point.

Selecting the best material for pet food packaging

Selection of the material that best suits your product is the essential thing in addition to determining the style of the bag. You should select the material that is both practical and appealing to your customer.

In today’s world, most pet food packages are multilayered. The most common materials combinations are polyester (PET) / Polyethylene (PE) or polyester (PET) / metalized polyester (MET PET) / polyethylene (PE). Many pet food brands are also trying to incorporate matte or soft-touch matte surfaces into their packaging. These matte surfaces will help to set their bags apart visually and tactilely. Plastic is still a prevalent material for pet food packaging because of the level of freshness it can provide. This level of freshness is hard to obtain with any other material.

However, many new materials are developed by different manufacturers. If you are trying to remove plastic from your packages, you can try these non-traditional materials. But first, communicate with your manufacturing partner and conduct trials to ensure the freshness and quality of your products through its best-by date.

Other ways to improve freshness and to fulfil the demands of customers is through closures. Common closure options available for pet food packaging are:

  • Easy to use sliders
  • Velcro closure or other hook-to-hook closures that must have audible and tactile feel
  • Or simple press to close zippers (PTC zippers).

Final words

Now you probably know the demands of the brands and all the necessary things you need to do to stand out from your pet food packages. You need to have creative graphics, unique and readable prints, good customer support and economical solution. Nowadays, pet owners are very concerned about the quality of the food for their products. So you need to provide a nutritious feed that their pet can easily chew. If you have all the above-mentioned features, you can definitely earn a good response from customers.

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