Cover Story-The Complete Package
VersaPack is prepared to offer North America more retort capabilities.
RETORT POUCHES ARE used prevalently throughout Europe and Asia. However, in the United States—the birthplace of the thermostabilized, laminated pouch—the packaging has been slow to make it from Meals Ready to Eat produced for the U.S. Armed Forces to American store shelves.
That won't last for long; not if VersaPack, the sales and marketing arm of a Korean film converter, has anything to say about it.
VersaPack started producing retort pouches more than 10 years ago. Since then, the Fair Lawn, N.J. company has taken considerable steps to ensure the stateside future of the innovative packaging. From expanding the company to adding and creating retort-capable technology, VersaPack is ready to offer American consumers retort pouches.
Pouches are already jumping in demand in the United States, according to The Freedonia Group, Inc., an industrial market research firm which published a study called "Pouches" last November. According to the study, the demand for stand-up pouches in the United States is projected to increase by 16.6 percent annually through the year 2006. The study also predicts that within the next three years, pouch demand in the food and beverage markets will jump by nearly 7 percent to $3.6 billion, while the demand for pouches in non-food related markets will increase by 7.1 percent to $950 million.
These numbers aren't daunting to VersaPack directors Anthony Catino and Ike Yoon. "VersaPack and our sister company, United Packaging & Processing Systems, are prepared to supply filling/sealing equipment and pouches," said Catino.
Promoting its Steel Can Replacement (SCR) Pouch™, VersaPack has successfully taken on the challenge of offering U.S. manufacturers a complete retort pouch package. As a fledgling company, VersaPack found many end users interested in using retort pouches, but they had no way of filling the pouches, Catino said. To overcome that hurdle, VersaPack took on UP&P. Together, VersaPack and UP&P co-developed a rotary filler machine used to fill the pre-made pouches. "One of the reasons why retort pouches are not taking off like rockets in the United States is because it's a pre-made pouch, which needs a machine to fill it," Catino explained. "Those machines are developed in Europe and over in Asia, and there hasn't been a domestic market force to sell that kind of machine here. [With UP&P,] now we can provide the complete solution. That's part of our overall objective."