Every industry is under pressure to do more with less, whether it is to increase profits or beat the competition.

Let’s look at a few of the trends having an impact on packaging today and the factors driving them.

packaging trends

Environmentalism

Environmentalism isn’t new. Environmental regulations prohibit certain materials from being used in food packaging. Other regulations affect how packaging can be made such as mandates that require packaging to be easily recycled, often prohibiting packaging made from several layers of different materials.

Packaging manufacturers are now being hit with rules intended to discourage single use disposables like once and done water bottles. This is on top of the existing rules that are ratcheting up demanding a greater incorporation of recycled materials. This explains the packaging trends towards metal tins and glass jars that could be reused as storage containers by the customer and often tout that fact as a selling point. That the packaging can tap into nostalgia is a bonus.

The “clean” movement

The “clean” movement is an ethics based movement. It can be seen as a secular version of food purity rules you see in a number of religions. The “clean” movement lacks the clear and consistent rules of kosher or halal. However, there are a few tenets that are consistent. For example, don’t use chemicals if you don’t have to. Use salt instead of preservatives with long chemical names. Fewer ingredients is better. For packagers, it means shorter ingredient lists, but it often requires adjusting the packaging itself to handle the altered recipes.

This movement is even hitting the packaging itself. You’re using recycled cardboard plus plant-based inks in the ideal case, while recycled plastics with added plasticizers is a strike against the company. Recycled paper for product inserts and instruction manuals is a plus. While finding ways to sell items in the container the customer re-uses is one of those packaging trends that lets you stand out in the market place.

Economics

Every business exists to generate a profit. The challenge for manufacturers and packaging firms in particular is to improve margins while still providing value. After all, you’re competing with companies all over the world, and manufacturers are increasingly able to make their own packaging or hire a nearby firm to do so.

How then can packaging firms stand out? One solution is better packaging design. When you can provide packaging that protects the product better at the same cost per unit, that’s your value proposition. If you can create a smaller package that meets the same performance requirements, you’re giving your customer a clear reason to go with your packaging. They’ll be able to fit more products into each box and shipping container. This dramatically reduces their logistical costs, and they can advertise that they’ve reduced fuel consumption because they don’t need as many trucks to deliver their products to market.

In a world where people seem nostalgic for the days of walking into a market and picking up fresh fruits and cheeses exposed to the air, packages that extend the product’s shelf life are a winner. After all, retailers don’t want to lose money throwing out expired products. The challenge is coming up with packaging that lets customers feel like they’re getting that experience. Clear protective packaging and traditional packaging with larger display windows are a few such solutions.