Packaging Trends & Innovations for the New Year

Published: 04th January 2010
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2009 was a year when innovations were put back in almost all the industries mainly due to reduced consumer spending and businesses cost-cutting initiatives. However the packaging industry has devised new ways to remain dynamic and reactive to changing market needs. Let's take a look at some of the key packaging developments that have shaped the industry in 2009, and the emerging trends that might play a key role in packaging in next year.

Factors Driving Packaging in 2009

Despite being a difficult year for businesses, 2009 saw a number of trends in packaging that have significant influence on the packaging and these trends are likely to guide pack strategies for the near future.

Sustainability, like always, remains a driving force in packaging. More businesses across the sector are incorporating eco-friendly thinking and technologies into their packaging and processes.

Compared to 21 percent in 2007, now 41 percent of packaging companies are familiar with sustainability issues, according to an annural survey from Packaging Digest. Approx two-third of the survey's respondents claimed that the focus on eco-friendly packaging is increasing due to the consumer demand from both retailers and customers.

The high priorities in sustainability initiatives are the use of recycled or recyclable materials, improvements in education and training, better collection and recovery methods, and development of new materials.

The five main sustainability categories cited by PMMI(Packaging Machinery Manufacturers Institute) are: utility conservation, source reduction, recycled content, recyclability and renewable materials. According to a packaging trends report by PMMI, "Sustainability has evolved into a mainstream commitment. Sustainable practices encourage sales by addressing consumers' interest in 'greener' products, and by reducing waste and conserving resources, they often generate cost savings."

Some methods which are gaining popularity in the move towards sustainable packaging include minimizing waste by implementing closed extrusion systems in label production and replacing key materials with more easily recyclable compounds, like swapping mixed polymer laminates for polyester in lidstock. Other two methods are conserving water by removing it from the conveyor lubrication process and saving energy by installing power-consumption monitoring tools on packaging equipment.

Emerging Trends

The innovations in packaging cannot be restricted to sustainability only. There are numerous other concepts expected to play major role in packaging innovations in the coming years. According to a report titled "Consumer Packaged Goods Trend Predictions for 2010", from market and trend analysis firm Mintel, some of the emerging packaging ideas expected to influence the industry in the near future are:

  • Information Overload : Consumers want to see the essential information on products. Some important information like nutritional facts are described in a confusing and cluttered way. For this reason, more manufacturers will introduce simple, clean front-of-package information.

  • Local Expands : Buying only local goods seems to be unlikely, but many consumers prefer products from a place that is at least recognizable. This trend seems to grow as more companies are working to broaden the definition of "local."

  • Simple into Special - It has been observed that stylish packaging makes purchasing of day-to-day goods like juice or soap more enjoyable & exciting. It will push manufacturers to come up with more exciting packs.

  • Color-coding - More manufacturers are supposed to adopt color-coded packaging on all products to make shopping for retail goods easier.

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