- The pod-based, single-serve format for food and beverage products offers manufacturers unique opportunities, despite the backlash Keurig has experienced from its pod-based products.
- Pod-based packaging enables manufacturers to capitalize on consumer demand for convenience and fast, single-serve preparation. But pods can serve producers of foods and beverages that stretch beyond the traditional liquid-based pod products that proliferate today, such as coffee, tea, soda, soup, and oatmeal.
- Food and beverage pod producers still face a number of challenges, such as whether to use proprietary pod technology. Also, manufacturers still contend with the environmental and waste concerns that surround pods. Pods tend to be nonrecyclable and/or nonbiodegradable, and, even when made of eco-friendly materials, still too easily disposable.
Judging by the investments behind startups like Flatev, producer of tortilla-making machines and refrigerated tortilla dough pods, the industry sees potential in pod culture across a wide range of product categories. As the single-serve concept gains a foothold, consumers will seek out this type of convenience across category lines, and manufacturers will look for ways to adapt. Campbell partnered with Keurig for a single-serve K-Cup soup line, which debuted last fall.
Growing demand for pod-based technology is in spite of backlash regarding coffee pod producer Keurig, particularly since introducing a version of its machine that is only compatible with proprietary pod technology. But even Keurig was bought out by JAB Holding and has since announced the rollout of its recyclable K-Cups, so the company could be positioning itself for a turnaround as other food and beverage pod producers take flight.
To break into pod-based technology, major manufacturers could find opportunities in acquiring or investing in pod-centric startups. The larger company could potentially partner with the startup to use its pod technology for the larger company's own products. That might include a capital infusion that helps the startup identify and implement materials that are more eco-friendly, which would alleviate consumer concerns. Or the acquiring company could learn enough from the startup to create its own proprietary food or beverage pods.