The food packaging industry is a large, continuously evolving landscape that keeps innovating and creating to meet the needs of food manufacturers and end consumers. Like the vast food and beverage industry it serves, food packaging encompasses a wide spectrum of end uses and geographies. There are however a number of trends that will be drivers of new products over the coming years.
Sustainability and Going Green
Consumers, particularly in developed markets, are increasingly focused on the impact of packaging on the environment, both in its production process and how it fares after becoming waste. They are also increasingly interested in the associated economic and social cost. In light of this the trend away from glass to plastics is one that will continue, and similarly there is also more interest in adopting highly biodegradable and renewable, bio based rigid plastics containers as well as lighter weight polymers. Both Krones and Sidel have been on the cutting edge of these front. There has also been a general trend towards using less packaging materials and producing less waste during the manufacturing process. In addition to catchy labeling and packaging to communicate with customers and differentiate against competitors, shoppers are now looking to a product’s eco footprint as part of their decision making process. The lack of a well-defined sustainability standard has made the job difficult for food manufacturers and their suppliers on how to best implement sustainable practices, but this also gives pioneering companies a chance to stand out from the crowd.
Designing for an e-Commerce World
Shoppers across the world are moving rapidly towards e-Commerce, with the online grocery shopping experience as convenient as a swipe on a cell phone. As such, food packaging innovations must move outside of the supermarket shopping aisle and onto computer and phone screens. This includes designing for maximum visual impact, such as flat surface areas with larger graphics, as well as easier small batch delivery.
Trends in Labeling
Consumers are demanding clearer messaging on what they are buying to be displayed on their food and beverage packaging. Vital information such as origin, nutritional values and ingredients need to be clearly communicated on the labeling.
Smart labeling in the form QR codes that can be read by smartphone cameras are quickly replacing traditional barcodes which has been a staple on food packaging since its introduction in the 1970’s. This provides a gateway for marketers to further engage with and collect information on consumers. The alcoholic drinks manufacturer Diageo has taken this further by recently introducing imbedded near field communications technology onto their bottles.
The food and food packaging industry has seen a number of hugely successful product personalization campaigns which have created increased excitement and engagement with the product. Coca-Cola’s “Share a Coke” campaign, which it rolled out successfully in many markets, really showcased how much value personalized packaging can create. Other major brands such as Nutella and Heineken have also recently allowed consumers to have individual names printed on their label. This has generated significant buzz in traditional and social media, and provided a new way to consume, with many products being bought as gifts.
Many food packaging companies are experimenting with embedded digital indicators. Radio frequency identification and temperature indicators can provide real time updates on the state of the supply chain and the status of the contents.
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