Packaging 2020: Packaging Trends and Innovations

06 Aug 2020

The world of packaging is constantly changing. Packaging innovation is an ongoing process, with the industry always looking ahead to what the future of packaging will look like. And we are going through a time of fast-evolving packaging trends, driven by changing consumer sentiment and new technologies. So what big packaging trends are we experiencing in 2020? Let’s take a look at the top focuses for the industry right now.

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Flexible packaging

Flexible packaging accounts for 19% of the overall packaging market, and is expected to grow at 3.9% CAGR by 2023. It is currently the second largest segment of the packaging industry, beaten only by corrugated paper in its popularity.

Both the industry and consumer love flexible packaging for a number of reasons. It is convenient, portable and practical. It’s also lightweight and protective during shipping, which contributes to its lower total carbon footprint, as do its sustainable materials. Flexible packaging is sized to fit its contents, meaning there is less of it. As such, it’s a big money saver.

Flexible packaging involves any type of packaging where the shape can be readily changed. It includes everything from bags, pouches and liners, to wraps that can be comprised of plastic, film, aluminum foil, metalised or coated paper or film - or any combination of these.


Edible packaging and labelling

Consumers are very focused on eco-packaging right now, and what could be more environmentally friendly than packaging that doubles as food? Businesses are leaning increasingly towards flexible packaging and minimalist packaging options, and edible packaging and labels takes this to its logical conclusion. Whether the consumer gets to eat the packaging outright, or if it’s simply biodegradable, both the novelty and sustainability of the idea is very appealing.


Smart packaging

Augmented reality is on the rise, and it’s proving a big success in packaging. Augmented reality packaging allows users to grab their smartphone and discover a whole wealth of information digitally. Information such as ingredients and provenance, guides and how-tos, can all be viewed digitally before purchase, which is not only highly engaging for consumers, it also saves on physical packaging. Therefore, augmented reality packaging is also sustainable packaging, in that it uses far fewer physical resources.

AR-enabled packaging is not the only smart packaging we can look forward to in 2020 and beyond. Cloud labelling is also a new packaging innovation we are likely to start seeing a lot more of. Cloud labelling allows businesses to centrally manage their label design, product data and quality control. Branches, suppliers and partners are able to access necessary information in the cloud and print their own labels locally.

Cloud labelling is particularly useful for businesses that have multiple sites where labels, especially in the food industry, need to be produced locally. Head Offices can centrally manage products that are then visible to all sites, keeping information consistent and up to date. Less of a consumer-facing than an industry-facilitating technology, cloud labelling is streamlining packaging processes in many industries. What’s more, cloud labelling and associated technologies are able to have a dramatic positive impact on the supply change and reducing lead times, a leading challenge for manufacturers at present.


Private labels

While brand name products seem to dominate the market, research indicates that retailers typically make more profit from store brands. A private label product is manufactured by a third-party manufacturer and sold under the retailer’s brand name. The retailer specifies everything about the product, from its ingredients to the packaging used, to what the label looks like. The retailer then pays to have it produced and delivered to the store. This contrasts to the typical method of buying products from other brand name companies to sell in store.


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Private labelling is common in a wide range of industries, from food and drink, to personal care, cosmetics, household cleaners and even the fashion industry. Private labelling has lost its old stigma of being a cheap or inferior product, and store brands are now seeing increased premiumisation.

The best way to meet the challenges associated with meeting changing consumer demand is through continuous commitment to packaging innovation. But foremost, manufacturers need to be constantly asking what their consumers’ biggest pain point is, and how to solve it. Organisations need to be agile and continue to seek solutions to drive the industry forward. The future of packaging is a brave new world, but those who enter it first are those which will see the best results.