Developed in France in the late 1990s, GoGo squeeZ fruit pouches entered the US market in 2008. The pouches - which are not currently suitable for curbside recycling programs - have two layers of plastic and an aluminum layer in between. Polyethlene is for food protection, aluminum serves as an oxygen barrier, and PET (polyethylene terephthalate) adds rigidity and machinability.
Like many baby and kids’ food brands using pouches that have to withstand a retort (high heat) or HPP (high pressure processing) pasteurization process, GoGo squeeZ has teamed up with upcycling specialist TerraCycle to encourage consumers to mail the packages to facilities where they will be pelletized and turned into products such as watering cans, garbage cans, and park benches.
However, while it has data showing TerraCycle has upcycled 6m GoGo squeeZ pouches in recent years, most are thrown in the trash, acknowledged Ivan Giraud, president at GoGo squeeZ North America.
“We want to do much more. We’ve been looking at this problem for three years, as we need a 12-month shelf life and when you remove aluminum you don’t want to reduce quality or shelf-life.”
Final package will be made from a single type of BPA-free plastic
Following three years of R&D, the company’s final recyclable packaging will have no aluminum layer, said Giraud.
“The recyclable pouch will be made from a single type of plastic – low density PE (polyethylene) or number 4 plastic, a very commonly used plastic that is recyclable.
"In our new pouches, we have added a new middle layer of EVOH [Ethylene vinyl alcohol] PE [polyethlene] to further seal the product in the pouch from external factors. EVOH is a thin layer of copolymer that enhances the oxygen barrier without compromising the recyclability of the film.
"We’re still at the prototype stage and we still need to validate this on an industrial scale and deploy them in our two US production sites, but we would encourage all of the other manufacturers to follow us. Our products are healthy on the inside and we want them to be healthy on the outside as well.”
Once the new packaging is on the market, GoGo squeeZ will invest in an education program encouraging its consumers to recycle them, he said. “The goal is not just to be recyclable, but actually to be recycled.
"The curbside program in the US is very fragmented and varies per state / municipality. It’s also impossible to predict what the recycling system will be like in 2022. Consumers will have to check with their local curbside recycling program to verify, but we are working with the Sustainable Packaging Coalition on consumer education to figure out the best way to recycle our new pouches once they hit the market."
The amount of plastic in the GoGo squeeZ helicopter cap will also be slashed by 40%, such that it has 80% less plastic vs competitive pouch caps, he added.
The squeezable fruit & veggie snack market
GoGo squeeZ – which makes applesauce, fruit & veggie combos, smoothies, yogurt and fruit combos for younger kids and a new line of pouches for tweens (read more about the BlastZ range HERE) - is seeing growth across the board, said Giraud.
“We had a great promotion at Costco in summer 2019 on BlastZ, and we are planning new launches in June 2020 that promote gut wellness and in 2021 we are looking at some new plant-based products, which is really exciting. The potential for healthy snacking is amazing.”
‘20% of our volume is consumed by households that don’t have any kids under 12’
Asked whether GoGo squeeZ was developing pouches for adults (an area in which some other brands have struggled to make headway), he said: “We target families with children, but we have research showing that once it’s in the pantry, it’s not the case that only children are consuming them. We have data showing that 20% of our volume is consumed by households that don’t have any kids under 12.”
So does the GoGo squeeZ brand name limit the company to squeezy pouches?
Not necessarily, he said. “Customers have encouraged us to look beyond pouches, but by the same token there is still such great potential in the pouch business.”
Are you developing products for babies and young children?
Join us at FoodNavigator-USA's third annual FOOD FOR KIDS summit in Chicago November 11-13, where we'll be exploring what kids are eating (vs what they probably should be eating), and how the food industry can create health snacks, beverages and meals that parents can feel good about and kids want to eat.
WATCH the 2019 FOOD FOR KIDS summit video.