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5 market influencing trends in the packaging industry

Globalization, innovative technologies and increasing consumer demands, which are characterized by individualization and sustainability, are currently exposing the packaging industry to strong change. In this blog post you can find out which five central trends will influence the packaging industry.

In the coming years, companies in the packaging industry will be increasingly called upon to incorporate sustainability into their marketing strategy and to safeguard it through appropriate product innovations.

Sustainability: Megatrend in the packaging industry

In recent years, sustainability has established itself as one of the strongest trends in the packaging industry. Environmental compatibility and multi-purpose suitability will be decisive purchasing factors in the future, as long as "green" packaging does not disproportionately drive up product prices and the perceived product quality is maintained.

Purchasing decisions will therefore increasingly be made in the future on the basis of a value-oriented understanding, meaning that the new generation of LOHAS (Lifestyle of Health and Sustainability) is in constant growth. LOHAS should not be underestimated, because with a high level of education and above-average incomes they are one of the most important target groups for brand manufacturers. And this group demands not only organic products, but also environmentally friendly packaging.


Companies in the packaging industry are therefore increasingly called upon in the coming years to incorporate sustainability into their marketing strategy and to secure it by means of corresponding product innovations.

Example Puma - the Clever Little Bag

As part of its sustainability strategy, Puma has set itself the goal of reducing CO2 emissions, packaging shoes more sustainably and reducing waste. The solution was to produce a "Clever Little Bag", a mixture of cardboard frame and bag. Across the entire packaging value chain, a total of 65 percent less cardboard and 60 percent less raw materials were used for this sustainable shoe packaging. Lamination has also been dispensed with.


picture: Puma

Product safety is becoming increasingly important

Another trend in the packaging industry, which is much more in focus today than a few years ago, is product and especially food safety. This subject area covers a wide range, from migration to save food to product piracy and counterfeit protection.

Migration: The demands of the retail sector are increasing

On the one hand, printed packaging with its multitude of different materials is of major importance here, as it is intended to protect the food against the penetration of substances not intended for use. However, printed food packaging is not inert, so that a transfer of substances both from the packaging material and from the printing to the food cannot be completely ruled out. Mineral oil residues in foodstuffs in particular are an issue that particularly affects the packaging industry.

In addition to various legal guidelines to regulate migration in food packaging printing, the packaging industry is increasingly confronted with retail requirements, as the example of discount giant Aldi Süd, who recently called on manufacturers of his own brands to ban mineral oil residues from foodstuffs and explicitly also took packaging into account.

Save Food pushes active packaging

Founded in 2011, the Save Food Initiative aims to work with its members from industry, politics and society to drive innovation to combat global food waste and loss. The packaging industry plays a key role here in terms of shelf life and protection of food. The focus is on the development of "active packaging" that extends the shelf life and thus reduces food waste and losses.

Intelligent indicators (freshness, time temperature indicator, opening, etc.) should help the consumer to assess product safety beyond the printed expiry date. The cycle is closed by intelligent recycling systems that are able to separate food components from packaging in order to make them usable for a wide variety of recycling processes.

Product piracy requires innovative, forgery-proof packaging 

In the last 25 years, the damage caused by counterfeit products has increased more than a hundredfold worldwide. Numerous packaging and product counterfeits in the pharmaceutical industry show that product piracy not only reduces the profits of brand manufacturers of high-priced consumer goods, but can also endanger the health of consumers. The development and use of innovative anti counterfighting systems is therefore becoming increasingly important. The highest possible protection against product piracy is currently promised by the combination of first opening protection and track & trace technologies, which should be supplemented by optical security features depending on individual requirements.

Digital revolution: digital printing conquers mass production

The digital printing sector will continue to gain momentum in the coming years. Important drivers of this trend in the packaging industry are increasing product diversity with shorter product cycles and a trend towards individualization and serialization of packaging.

Digital printing will therefore no longer be used only for limited editions and individual products, but will also increasingly focus on the economic and speed-to-market advantages for the design of mainstream packaging. There is also increasing pressure for more flexibility in processes and procedures, which is driving forward the digitalization of production technology in the packaging industry. 

Mobile Revolution: QR codes are being replaced by NFC and Bluetooth

The dialogue between smartphone and packaging is currently entering the next technological round. Until now, packaging with QR and text codes has not really been accepted by consumers due to the laborious handling. In addition, the opportunities for direct contact with the customer were severely limited. With the new technologies of the future Near-Field-Communication (NFC) and Bluetooth Low-Energy (BLW), new interactive communication channels are now opened up between all parties involved, allowing customers to access information about the product via NFC in almost unlimited ways and to get in direct contact with the company. Promotional campaigns, competitions, bonus campaigns, etc. can be integrated indefinitely. In addition, this technology offers an important security advantage, as each NFC chip has a unique serial number assigned by the manufacturer and thus proves the originality of products. 

Internationalization: Globally operating companies are looking for global suppliers

The medium-sized packaging industry is currently under strong pressure to internationalize its own production in order to meet the requirements of its globally active customers. However, opening new locations abroad is sometimes associated with existential risks. Inadequate preparation or an incorrectly chosen strategy can put the company in serious trouble.

A first step towards internationalization therefore often leads to familiar neighboring countries. However, low wage cost advantages and a shortage of skilled workers make it difficult to set up your own production, often the only option is to take over. As internationalization progresses, so do the demands placed on packaging. Innovative packaging and "global packaging" that meet the complex requirements will therefore also shape the future development of the industry.

Conclusion: future trends promise dynamic development of the industry 

Consumer behavior, markets and technologies are changing rapidly. For companies in the packaging industry, the challenges posed by internationalization, technological progress and rapidly changing customer requirements are growing. In addition to environmental compatibility and product safety, innovative, lifestyle-friendly packaging will play an important role in consumers' purchasing decisions in the future. With increasing internationalization, a seamless information chain on transport stations and the use of active packaging is also gaining in importance. The packaging market will therefore develop extremely dynamically in the coming years. You can read an overview of the future challenges facing the packaging industry in our "Trend Collection Packaging Industry".


Paulinde Schmidt

Pauline has a holistic view of the future. With her qualifications in psychology and sustainable design, the researcher draws a clear picture of technologies, trends and markets. She converts the input from the experts into the next steps for your innovation project, both creatively and analytically at the same time.

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