Pack Expo 2015

Consumer trends changing the world of packaging

By Hal Conick

- Last updated on GMT

An example of flexible packaging, which is growing in popularity, from Jelly Belly.
An example of flexible packaging, which is growing in popularity, from Jelly Belly.

Related tags Packaging Retailing Bottled water

Consumer trends are actively changing how food items are packaged, according to a report released at this year’s Pack Expo Las Vegas and Pharma Expo 2015.

'Global Packaging Trends,'​ the report from PMMI, The Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies, found that a growing awareness of health and wellness, recycling and environmental issues, and increasing disposable income and purchasing power are all causing a shift in how food is packaged.

These trends are helping to drive the purchasing decisions consumers make, according to Jorge Izquierdo, vice president of market development at PMMI.  He told BakeryandSnacks that over the last five years, consumers have been more educated about environmental issues and have started taking health and wellness more seriously.

How can manufacturers take advantage?

Manufactures need to be honest with consumers about packaging and claims they make on them, Izquierdo said. With a more educated consumer base, there will be harsher consequences if a company over-extends itself on packaging.

The number one complaint about packaging, Izquierdo said, is the amount being used per product. Packaging should not be excessive for any given product or consumers will take note.

The next most popular complaint from consumers is the type of packaging used - and whether or not it is easily recyclable.

One thing manufacturers may be able to do in an effort to increase sales is highlight health or environmental claims outside of the ingredients list.

“They fly together; the more concerned people are about their health, they’re also getting more concerned about the environment,”​ Izquierdo said.

“The claims in terms of the health [benefits] of your product — whatever enhancements or whatever property the product has — they need to be very well sustained. The packaging is, of course, a key element of promoting the product.”

Innovation may be the most important and best way to grow in mature markets, Izquierdo said.

“In order to make a difference here, it’s not about significant growth and consumption, it’s much more about innovation; and that’s for developed markets in general,”​ he said.  “When you turn to developing markets, that’s different … It depends on the economy, country by country.”

Three factors Izquierdo cited for developing markets included demographic growth of the middle class, an increase of disposable income and retail chain growth. Aligning these three aspects make for a “very successful market,” he ​said.

By the numbers

According to the report, plastic is still the most popular type of packaging, making up 29% of the packaging market.

PET bottles are currently 12% of the market and quickly growing. This type of packaging is seeing 4.7% yearly growth, with bottled water adding 135bn units in PET bottles through 2019.

The report notes that while PET and glass are becoming more popular in the beverage industry, confectionery, bakery and snacks industries are seeing an increase in use of flexible packaging. In a separate report from PMMI, the company noted that flexible packaging has seen a 3.8% yearly growth from 2004 to 2014.

“Flexible is growing too,”​ Izquierdo said. “It’s not like a revolution; it’s just an ongoing, sustained growth.”

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