What is retort pouch packaging?

A retort, or retortable pouch is a type of stand up pouch packaging suited to food and consumable items that need to be heated and sterilised within their packaging container. Retort pouches are made from several layers of materials, each offering a unique level of protection that makes them an ideal choice for certain consumable products. Retortable pouches are often used as an alternative to cans or glass jars, as they offer the same benefits as these packaging options, with some additional advantages.

Image of custom printed pouch packaging for food products

Retort packaging: Why choose a retort pouch?

Many food, drinks and consumable products need to be sterilised within their packaging before they’re safe to sell in retail locations. Sometimes referred to as aseptic processing, this process ensures that the products are sterile, safe to consume, and won’t need refrigerating before being consumed. Food may simply need to be heated or cooked before use.

For this to happen, products must be packaged in a container that can withstand the retort packing process. Traditionally, companies have opted for glass jars and metal tins to package these types of goods, but brands are looking towards retort pouches as an alternative solution due to the many benefits they offer, examples of which include:

  1. They’re made from flexible materials, making them easier to store in warehouses, supermarkets and other retail locations.
  2. Durable materials reduce the likelihood of any external wear causing contamination to the products within.
  3. They’re safer to handle and dispose of compared to products packaged in metal cans or glass jars.
  4. The materials used are lightweight, resulting in a lower cost to transport the goods between locations.
  5. Consumers can easily open retort pouches through tears or caps, compared to what’s needed to open glass or metal tins.
  6. You can print directly onto the entire surface of a retort pouch, giving you more options and freedom with the product packaging design.
  7. Retort pouches have many customisation options, such as the shape, materials used and whether to include features such as a spout or euro punched handle.
  8. The time required to package goods within retort pouches may be up to 40% faster than traditional options.
  9. They’re cheaper to use as less energy is required to heat the retort pouch materials compared to tins and jars.
  10. Heating efficiencies help goods to retain their colour, smell, flavour and nutritional value compared to longer exposure during the sterilisation process.
  11. Retort pouches may offer an equivalent shelf lifetime to products being packaged in metal cans.
  12. Products won’t require refrigeration or freezing, making them easier to store and display for retailers, as well as reducing food wastage.
  13. Various material options mean that retort pouches can be customised to be more suited to specific types of goods and products.

Can you customise retort pouches?

One of the greatest advantages of using retort pouches instead of alternative packaging options is the level of customisation available to you. Unlike cans and jars, which are rigid and have limited printing areas, retort pouches are made of flexible materials and come in many shapes, sizes and finishes. Some examples of the customisation options you have include:

  • Pouch style - The base design of your pouch. Choose between stand up pouches, spout, flat and square bottom pouches.
  • Pouch material - The materials used in each layer of your pouch. Choose between finishes such as aluminium, kraft or clear. Please note: some materials may not be suitable for retort pouches.
  • Size - Retort pouches are available in varying sizes and shapes, making them suitable for small and large quantities of varying weights.
  • Artwork - Print your custom branding and artwork on the entire surface area of the pouch, helping you to communicate who you are, what your product is and why consumers should make the purchase.
  • Features - Add additional features to your retort pouch such as a spout, gusset, punched handle, valve and more.
We’re here to help

We offer free expert advice and support for anyone who needs product packaging, and we’d love to hear about your project and help find the right pouch for you.

Are retort pouches sustainable?

The sustainability of your packaging should be a key consideration, as the benefits of choosing a more environmentally friendly option go beyond reducing your footprint. Consumers are consciously making purchasing decisions based on how sustainable a product is, which is everything from product development to how it’s packaged. Retort pouches have many qualities that make them a more sustainable option than other packaging options, and we specialise in helping businesses make the right choices as they develop their pouch packaging. Some of the benefits of opting for retort pouches are:

  1. They require less heat during the sterilisation process due to the shape and flexibility of the packaging material.
  2. The time needed to package goods is more efficient, reducing the resources required during assembly.
  3. The flexible materials used in retort pouches mean they take up less space in storage, and there is less wasted space in warehouses.
  4. Transporting retort pouches at all stages of its lifecycle is cheaper due to how lightweight the packaging materials are.
  5. Retort pouch materials are capable of being widely recycled across the world, and as the packaging is a single unit, it’s easy for consumers to properly dispose of.
  6. There are many global initiatives focused on improving the sustainability of all pouch packaging, meaning future development will improve retort pouches even further.

Is a retort pouch the right choice for you?

Retort pouches are exclusively used for consumable products that require heating, cooking or sterilisation within their packaging. Some examples of the types of products packaged in this way include instant meals, soups, rice, sauces, pet foods, etc. Retort pouches offer many advantages for products that need to be prepared in this way, and there are various materials available that are each suited to different types of consumable products. If you’re considering pouch packaging but do not need to heat, cook or sterilise the goods in this way, then a retort pouch may not be the best choice. We offer many other pouch variations that may be more suitable for you, which you can find more information on by visiting our pouch types page.

Working with a retort pouch supplier

We specialise in all types of pouch packaging, and we can offer you our advice and expertise while you explore different packaging options for your products. We aim to make the process as simple as possible, offering transparency and advice on the various decisions you’ll need to make. Sustainability is at the heart of everything we do, and we’re always exploring new initiatives and ways to improve how sustainable we are so that we can pass this value on to you and your customers. Whether you need someone to guide you through the process or you’re confident and have a vision in mind, we’d welcome the opportunity to discuss your packaging needs.

Contact SPS Pouches

If you have any enquiries concerning our pouch packaging, or would simply like to get in touch with our team, you can use the contact form or details below.

5 Yeomans Way, Bournemouth, Dorset, BH8 0BL
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