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FMI’ Analyst view: “Innovative Packaging for Lifesaving Solutions: Plastic Healthcare’s Eco-Advancements”

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FMI’ Analyst view: “Innovative Packaging for Lifesaving Solutions: Plastic Healthcare’s Eco-Advancements”

The plastic healthcare packaging market is estimated to be valued at US$ 24,768.7 million in 2023 to reach an expected valuation of US$ 40,306.8 million by 2033. The demand for plastic healthcare packaging is projected to record a CAGR of 5% during the forecast period.

The healthcare industry is rapidly growing, and with it, the demand for high-quality packaging solutions. Plastic healthcare packaging is increasingly being preferred by manufacturers due to its durability, affordability, and versatility. The rise in demand for medical supplies and medicines has boosted the growth of the plastic healthcare packaging market.

Manufacturers are focusing on developing innovative packaging solutions to meet the diverse needs of their customers. They are experimenting with various shapes, colors, and designs to attract consumers and improve product visibility. Packaging solutions with advanced features, such as tamper-evident seals and child-resistant closures, are becoming popular among consumers.

Rising Demand for Child-Resistant Packaging

As the global population ages, the demand for medication and other healthcare products is increasing, leading to a growing demand for child-resistant packaging. This is especially important for products that pose a risk to children, such as medications and medical devices. Plastic healthcare packaging manufacturers are investing in new technologies to develop child-resistant packaging that is safe, durable, and easy to use.

Technological advancements in packaging design are helping to improve the functionality and safety of plastic healthcare packaging. For example, smart packaging solutions can improve product shelf life, reduce waste, and help consumers make informed purchasing decisions. In addition, advanced packaging design technologies are enabling manufacturers to produce lightweight, cost-effective, and easy-to-use packaging solutions that meet the needs of the healthcare industry.

Challenges Faced by the Plastic Healthcare Packaging Manufacturers

Despite the growth of the plastic healthcare packaging market, several challenges remain that players must overcome to continue their success. One of the major challenges is the increasing pressure from environmental groups and consumers for more sustainable packaging solutions. Plastic packaging has a significant environmental impact, and as consumers become more environmentally conscious, the demand for more sustainable packaging options is increasing.

Another challenge faced by players in the plastic healthcare packaging market is the need for specialized materials and designs to accommodate the specific requirements of different healthcare products. The materials used in healthcare packaging must be safe, effective, and meet strict regulatory standards. This requires a high level of expertise and investment, which can be a barrier to entry into the market for some players.

Companies are looking for ways to minimize packaging waste and increase efficiency, which is putting pressure on players to improve their operations and reduce the impact of their packaging on the environment. Companies must find ways to balance these concerns with the need to protect and preserve their healthcare products, making it a challenging market to navigate.

Country-wise Insights

Why is the United States Estimated to be a Highly Lucrative Plastic Healthcare Packaging Market?

The United States plastic healthcare packaging industry was estimated to be worth US$ 4,648.1 million in 2022. The United States is currently the most attractive market, according to FMI. The United States is estimated to hold a market share of 19.5% in North America and is estimated to have a year-on-year growth rate of 5% in 2023.

The United States remains one of the leading manufacturers of pharmaceutical drugs, directly increasing the demand for safe and high-quality healthcare packaging.

According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the United States is globally the country with the highest per capita healthcare spending, totaling US$ 10,966 Mn in the year 2019. The United States also spends more per person on health care and medicines than any other country.

Why is the Demand for Plastic Healthcare Packaging Increasing across China?

China plastic healthcare packaging industry is anticipated to rise at a CAGR of 8.8% during the forecast period. The China plastic healthcare packaging industry is estimated to be worth US$ 3,125.7 million in 2022. As per PlasticsEurope, a European trade association, world plastic production was nearly 368 million tons in 2019 and China accounted for more than 1/3rd of the volume share.

Amid the COVID pandemic, the government in China has boosted the production of plastic healthcare packaging solutions. The availability of plastic raw materials is propelling growth opportunities for the key players of the target market.

China is one of Asia’s largest contributors to the production of healthcare products. The enormous market continues to grow rapidly driven by economic growth, expenditure, and an aging population owing to investments in basic health treatments. The country is projected to grow rapidly due to the low cost of raw materials and labor charges.

Why are Market Players Willing to Invest in India?

India plastic healthcare packaging industry was worth US$ 1,794.4 million in 2022. Increasing government initiatives and awareness regarding personal health and hygiene are key factors supporting demand. The country is expected to witness prominent growth of 8.6% during the assessment period.

According to FMI, the Indian market is growing steadily due to the presence of several small-and-large scale companies that are ready to widen their reach for the production of plastic healthcare packaging.

This growth is attributable to economic development, low cost of labor, and deployment. Many key players are looking to invest in multiple profit-earning opportunities in the emerging economies of India and China.

Why are Manufacturers Eyeing Germany to consolidate their Market Position?

In 2022, Germany accounted for a 4.6% share of the global plastic healthcare packaging industry. The German plastic healthcare packaging industry is estimated to be worth US$ 1,083.9 million in 2022.

The Federal Statistical Office of Germany has reported that healthcare spending rose by 4% in 2018 from 2017 in Germany. In 2018, the country’s healthcare expenditure accounted for 11.7% of the GDP. Moreover, the country’s projected healthcare spending exceeds US$ 505 Bn in 2020, creating a conducive environment for the expansion of the plastic healthcare packaging industry.

Demand for plastic healthcare packaging in Germany is expected to rise at nearly 3.8% CAGR over the forecast period. Germany is well known for its technology-driven industry and its developments in the healthcare sector owing to the stringent government rules and initiatives. The rise in several factories of medical devices and high consumer attractiveness towards healthcare is anticipated to cover over 4.6% of the Europe market by the year 2033.

Competitive Landscape

Companies operating in the plastic healthcare packaging industry are aiming for strategic collaborations and partnerships with other manufacturers to expand their product portfolio, in addition to investing in capacity expansions.

·         In April 2021, Amcor plc launched a recyclable polyethylene-based thermoform blister packaging format. It is intended to meet the high standards of regulated pharmaceutical packaging that creates a sustainable alternative.

·         In January 2021, Gerresheimer planned to build a second production plant near Mumbai, India to meet plastic healthcare packaging requirements worldwide. The product portfolio includes plastic containers, plastic ampoules, plastic bottles, and more in a variety of designs.

·         In December 2020, Airnov Healthcare Packaging introduced OXYNOV. The packaging products are applicable for high protective barrier bottles required for pharmaceutical, nutraceutical, and probiotic products.

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ISTA European Packaging Symposium will bring together Global Transport Packaging Leaders to Focus on E-commerce, Sustainability and More

The International Safe Transit Association (ISTA), the leading industry developer of pre-shipment performance testing standards for packaged products, today announced programming for its European Packaging Symposium, which will be held 27-28 September at the Amsterdam Marriott Hotel in Amsterdam, Netherlands.

The ISTA European Packaging Symposium is the global transport packaging industry’s staple event in Europe, providing a broad international platform for directors, managers and technicians of logistics, packaging, production, purchasing, R&D, product design and development of companies in the following sectors: packaging, fast moving consumer goods, computers and electronics, retail sector, logistics, transport and storage, test laboratories, and test equipment manufacturers.

Presentations will cover sustainable packaging development, e-commerce packaging challenges, packaging performance testing applications, packaging optimization and damage reduction success stories, research, best practices and more. The event also features a new track focused on temperature-sensitive life science product distribution, with sessions on innovative cold chain packaging solutions, temperature monitoring strategies, sustainability case studies, design qualification guidance, mechanical testing best practices, emerging technologies and more.

Companies presenting include Amazon, HelloFresh SE, SEE, Stora Enso, SmartCAE, ITAINNOVA Merck Sharp & Dohme (MSD), Stora Enso, ITENE, Safe Load Testing Technologies, Research Institutes of Sweden (RISE), Lansmont Corporation, Validaide, CADFEM India Pvt. Ltd., ELPRO-BUCHS AG, Pregis, Ring (an Amazon company), Billerud AB, Sonoco ThermoSafe, Smithers, CSafe, WESTPAK, Inc., Fisher Packaging, LLC, RP Pharma Consulting Ltd and Cold Chain Technologies.

For the first time, ISTA is offering in-person training for its Packaging Dynamics Professional (ISTA PDP) Certification program prior to the symposium on 26 September. ISTA’s PDP certification program encourages and recognizes development and excellence in the packaging industry.

The event will be held in person with several networking opportunities, including general sessions, a social mixer, breaks with sponsors and a closing dinner at the Amstel Boathouse.

For more information about the event and to register, visit The discounted early-bird rate ends August 31.

Since 2019, ISTA has invested nearly $2 million into research to better understand the hazards found in the transport of products around the world, including studies in India, Europe, China, the U.S., spanning across sea, rail, full-truckloads and parcel. There are currently 22 ISTA testing standards covering different applications, package types, distribution modes and products.

ISTA’s more than 1,100 corporate members are located in 45 countries and include over 650 certified testing labs, 400 leading brand owners, 300 packaging suppliers, and 300 research and academic institutions and students.

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The Best Ways to Avoid Common Types of Packaging Damage

Ordering packages directly from online retailers is becoming increasingly popular among consumers and businesses. It’s easier than ever to purchase essential products that arrive quickly without waiting more than a few days or even stepping outside. 

However, package damage is common in the shipping and logistics industry. No business wants to ship products to customers only for them to find a damaged package. It can look bad for the company and prompt customers to shop elsewhere. How can shipping companies avoid the most common types of packaging damage to ensure customers receive products in one piece? Here’s how to ensure products reach their destinations safely.

Why It’s Important to Avoid Packaging Damage in Business

In the growing world of e-commerce, companies must understand that package damage is an inevitable part of doing business. No enterprise wants to suffer losses from damaged packages, but it can and does happen. 

Damaged packages are often out of a shipper’s control, but they must do their best to prevent problems for a few reasons. 

First, customers receiving a damaged package may take their business elsewhere or leave poor reviews on popular sites. This can harm a company’s reputation and make it challenging to garner new customers and keep existing ones. 

The cost of replacing damaged products can also be high, and it’s best to avoid paying these extra expenses if possible. No company wants to double their shipping costs if they can prevent it. These factors can significantly impact a company’s financial and market performance. 

Commonly Damaged Items in Shipping and Types of Packaging Damage

Some items are fragile by nature, making them more susceptible to damage than other products. Extra care should be taken with these products to ensure they arrive in one piece. Here are some of the most commonly damaged items in shipping:

  • Decorations
  • Glassware
  • Electronics
  • Musical instruments
  • Jewelry
  • Ceramics 

These types of items are easily breakable, so it’s understandable that companies should take extra precautions to ensure they arrive safely and in good condition.

The common types of packaging damage include rips, dents and puncture marks. Some packages can handle this damage, while others may not. Some boxes are stronger than others, making them good choices for particularly fragile items.

How to Avoid Packaging Damage

Companies and shippers should prevent package damage to avoid sending customers replacement items. They can use several strategies to protect their products in transit to their final destination. 

Pick the Right Sized Box

The size of the box or mailer used to ship a product plays a major role in how safe it is while in transit. For example, a small item in a big box with a ton of extra space will move from side to side while on a plane, truck or delivery van. It could be damaged from too much moving around. 

Instead, small items should be shipped in a box suitable for their size. A mailer should only be slightly larger than the product being shipped. Be sure to use the right box type, whether folding carton, corrugated, full overlap or rigid. 

Wrap Items With Packing Materials

Another suggestion while shipping items to help prevent potential damage is wrapping fragile items carefully with bubble wrap. Anything in the parcel susceptible to breakage should be wrapped individually to reduce the risk of jostling around and breaking during transit.  

Packaging supplies like bubble wrap, foam sheets and air pillows can reduce potential damage. Some organizations even use custom packaging solutions to protect their goods during shipment.

Disassemble Items Before Shipping

Depending on the fragility of the items shipped, it might make more sense for shipping companies to disassemble them first. Individually wrapping each product component can help protect it compared to mailing it fully assembled. 

This method is commonly used for items like furniture, decorations and glassware. It can help protect each piece of the product from damage. 

Clearly Label Boxes as “Fragile”

A common cause of package damage during shipping is when workers loading and unloading parcels are not careful. Occasionally, they will drop or toss boxes to be more efficient. Shippers should affix clear “fragile” stickers on all sides of the box.

Labeling fragile boxes with a sticker will help let workers know the package should be handled with care. This can protect the items inside and reduce the likelihood of damage before reaching their destination.

Collect Damage Data

Companies can use new tech to track damaged packages. They can gain better supply chain visibility by using machine learning (ML), artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT). 

These technologies may not prevent damaged packages entirely, but they collect data regarding damage and help companies find innovative solutions to protect items while in transit. 

Track Packages and Use Insurance

Tracking packages and purchasing shipping insurance is another way companies can protect themselves and their products when in transit to customers. 

Many e-commerce brands leverage tracking solutions and will offer customers the option to buy package insurance to cover the cost of reshipping a new item. Products do get damaged, and insurance exists for this very reason. 

Test Packages With Trial Runs

Companies should conduct run trials for their shipments in addition to using the right boxes and packaging materials. They can ship various items to see if they reach their destination in good condition. This could be helpful if a company starts using a new carrier or begins shipping through the mail system. It will know what changes should be made in the process or if a different shipping company should be employed.

Protect Packages to Maintain Profitability

Ultimately, damaged packages are unavoidable for any e-commerce or shipping company. It’s a part of doing business in today’s fast-paced, competitive market, and accidents happen. 

Not all issues can be avoided, but companies should do what they can to prevent packages from becoming damaged. It can help the business maintain a good reputation with customers and keep costs down. Consider using the tips above to protect packages while they make their journey and help them arrive in good condition. 


Molded Pulp Packaging Emerges as an Alternative to Single-Use Plastic in the Transition to Packaging Sustainability 

Molded pulp packaging solutions continue to gain favor among eco-conscious consumers and businesses looking to minimize the impact of the packaging sector on environmental health.

Over the past decade, consumers have become more cognizant of the long-term implications of their purchase behavior. Modern shoppers put significant thought behind their purchases, in terms of where are how to spend their money. In the current era, with concerns mounting regarding environmental well-being, this awareness is mainly directed toward packaging sustainability. According to Trivium’s 2021 Global Buying Green Report, over 83% of younger consumers (aged 44 and under) have expressed a willingness to pay higher prices for products that use sustainable packaging.

With the packaging industry coming under increasing scrutiny in recent years, solutions like molded pulp packaging have become an appealing choice for industries looking to mitigate their environmental footprint. Repurposed from fibrous materials, such as recycled cardboard and paper, or natural fibers like bamboo, wheat, or sugarcane, pulp-based packaging is highly recyclable, with the ability to be reused up to 7 times after fulfilling its primary purpose. Additionally, molded pulp, unlike conventional plastic-based packaging is biodegradable, which allows for a reduction of virgin materials used in the production of packaging products.

Traditionally associated with packaging items like cup holders or egg boxes, molded pulp-based packaging solutions are gradually gaining traction across industrial sectors like automotive, horticulture, medical and more. With massive improvements to molding processes and technologies and the growing demand for sustainable and high-quality packaging, molded pulp is making significant headway as a solution for luxury packaging. According to a Global Market Insights Inc. report, molded pulp packaging market size is set to surpass USD 4.8 billion by 2028.

3 major molded pulp packaging industry collaborations driving sustainability in North America

Bolstered by its compostable and recyclable nature, pulp-based packaging is rapidly emerging as the catalyst for the shift of eco-conscious business entities from current non-renewable plastic packaging to more sustainable options.

This shift is especially apparent in North America, where the molded pulp packaging industry is poised to be valued at USD 1.17 billion by 2028, as per Global Market Insights Inc. estimates, on account of the burgeoning demand for sustainable materials and packaging solutions in the region.

As a result of this, several packaging manufacturers are becoming involved in strategic maneuvers, most prominently collaborative efforts with other entities, to create more scope for innovation and development in molded pulp-based packaging, and in turn, strengthen their own market presence.

University of Maine-Kiefel alliance advances molded pulp packaging development through new thermoforming technology

Natural fibers are emerging as ideal materials for sustainable packaging products of late. In recognition of this, various public-private partnerships are being forged by major entities to boost research activities in the field, especially with regard to pulp-based packaging. Kiefel, in particular, is working persistently to establish a strong network of research and material facilities for the molded pulp packaging industry worldwide.

In February 2022, the firm collaborated with the University of Maine to promote the development of molded pulp packaging solutions, with the installation of a new NATUREFORMER KFT Lab machine, which would allow students to experiment with fiber thermoforming technology and enhance R&D efforts pertaining to sustainable materials like cellulose nanofiber.

By leveraging fiber thermoforming technology, Kiefel machines were equipped to produce sustainable packaging products made from natural fibers such as annual plants, straw, or cellulose, which would represent an attractive alternative to traditional plastic-based packaging in major application sectors.

Ara Partners’ Genera Energy Inc. acquisition to address the need for locally-produced pulp-based packaging

With the population of eco-conscious consumers on the rise, North American businesses are ramping up their efforts to boost sustainability in their packaging options, with a keen focus on enhancing domestic production. To that end, in June 2022, Ara Partners, a PE firm with expertise in industrial decarbonization investments, announced its acquisition of Genera Energy Inc., to facilitate the expansion of its sustainable pulp-based packaging business. Ara also declared a USD 200 million capital commitment toward the non-wood agricultural pulp and molded fiber producer

By working collaboratively, the management teams of both Genera and Ara sought to broaden the company’s manufacturing horizons across the U.S. in an attempt to cater to the ever-growing demand for sustainable molded fiber packaging sourced locally. Also, as part of the deal, Genera identified important growth opportunities in rural communities, by conserving land use whilst delivering a biodegradable and compostable solution to counteract the influence of an escalating plastic pollution issue.

ABB Robotics-Zume team up to explore use of molded fiber manufacturing cells (MFC) for production efficiency 

In recent years, packaging manufacturers have been under tremendous pressure, from both regulatory authorities and consumers alike, to develop or integrate more sustainable alternatives to single-use plastic in their portfolios. Plant-based pulp packaging, specifically, has become a key area of interest in this situation, demonstrating numerous benefits, from limited usage of energy and water to lesser CO2 emissions than plastic packaging manufacturing to biodegradability, among others.

The advent of next-gen technologies like automation robots equipped to accelerate production levels of such sustainable packaging products has become a key trend driving the molded pulp packaging industry toward efficiency through a reduction in energy use, production waste, and emissions.

A notable example of this is ABB Robotics, which inked a collaboration with Zume, a California-based supplier of compostable packaging solutions in November 2021, to deploy robotic cells that would elevate the latter’s sustainable packaging production to a global scale and limit the use of single-use plastics.

As part of the deal, ABB would install and incorporate over 1,000 MFCs (molded fiber manufacturing cells) and nearly 2,000 robots at Zume’s customer sites across the globe over the upcoming five years. Each site would be equipped to handle the processing of over 71,000 tons of agriculture material per year, and eventually produce more than 2 billion pieces of molded fiber packaging every year, empowered by the speed, scalability, and automation capabilities provided by the MFCs.

The packaging industry is evolving at a breakneck pace, which companies are working hard to keep up with, through a gradual transition from conventional plastics-dominated production processes to more ecologically responsible solutions. This trend is indicative of the stronghold that the molded pulp packaging industry has in the industrial landscape, as a strong proponent of the budding green movement that is poised to create a stir in the packaging ecosystem of the future.

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Global Shift toward Sustainable Packaging Materials to Shape the Future of Retail-Ready Packaging Market

Burgeoning consumption of packaged food products and expansion of the global retail sector is expected to drive the retail ready packaging (RRP) market growth. The industry may record an estimated 4.8% CAGR between 2022 to 2028, claims Global Market Insights Inc.

Rapid digitalization and easy accessibility to a wide range of food products have led to colossal growth in the global grocery e-commerce sector. Despite this, many consumers still prefer shopping from retail stores given its numerous benefits, like no shipping cost and instant product ownership – factors that are expected to offer considerable impetus to the retail ready packaging market.  

According to the U.S. Department of Commerce 2021 report, U.S. retail sales for 2021 were $6.6 trillion, representing 17.9% growth from 2020. The report further highlights that 2021 was one of the strongest years in the retail history of the U.S., representing a 2X times growth from the previous three decades.

To benefit from an expanding business space, companies in the retail sector are looking at innovative and creative ways to increase the sales of displayed products while improving store management. To that end, retail ready packaging (or shelf ready packaging) has proven to be a highly beneficial solution. Designed to make it easier for retailers to sell their products, this packaging reduces product handling requirements and makes it simpler and faster to stock retail shelves or store floors.

Two Key Driving Factors Transforming Retail Ready Packaging Industry Outlook:

A couple of major benefits of retail ready packaging that are contributing to its increasing demand have been enlisted below:

  • Minimized labor cost: 

Retail-ready packaging is used at scale by giants like Walmart and Costco as these players look to simplify product displays while accelerating sales without adding to the labor cost. Issues like inconsistencies in package sizes and price points are often said to be the main contributors toward increasing workload for store employees and higher labor costs to retailers.

With an aim to help customers lower their business expenses, retail ready packaging companies are coming up with new and innovative solutions. Recently, Tosca, a reusable packaging solutions provider, developed a retail-ready packaging solution for eggs that could drastically cut labor costs. Its Reusable Plastic Containers (RPCs) with a SmartWall™ feature allows sales associates to place entire containers directly on the shelf. 

  • Improved customer experience:

Shelf ready packaging can help customers enjoy a more cohesive shopping experience by offering information that helps them make informed decisions with their purchase. Studies show that by offering a better customer experience, businesses can acquire repeat customers that could generate around 40% of a brand’s revenue. Attractive designs and aesthetic graphics on retail ready packaging play a key role to entice consumers to make a product purchase. 

Ecofriendly packaging to drive the future of RRP industry

Retailers and packaging firms worldwide are trying to reduce the use of plastic packaging materials to lower their environmental impact and are shifting towards sustainable products and materials like paper and paperboard.

Awareness regarding the ill effects of plastic use on the environment, with consumers willing to pay extra for eco-friendly products, has reinforced the need for RRP manufacturers to shift to recyclable packaging solutions. A survey by Accenture states that consumers are ready to pay more for sustainable products that are designed using reused or recycled material.

Paperboard packaging market, as per estimates, is projected to foresee sizable revenue growth on the back of the ongoing trends associated with the sustainable packaging sector, rising consumption of packaged food and robust demand from the packaged food business.

Made from wood pulp, paperboard is a paper-based thick material used in packaging applications and is recycled in large amounts to reduce waste and deforestation. The material is mainly used in medical packaging, food & beverages, durable and non-durable goods, industrial packaging, and cosmetics.

Preference for case ready meat products

Case ready or retail ready meat products are resonating well with consumers as well as retailers worldwide. Meat products that come pre-packaged help retailers to cut down on labor and waste as well as increase assortment and sales. With retail ready packaging of meat products, store employees can also save time on stocking shelves and can reallocate their time to customer service. 

Another key advantage of case ready meats is their increased shelf life due to vacuum-sealed packaging which translates to improved freshness and quality of meat products. In fact, according to a report by The Food Industry Association, case ready meats offer better quality than meat packaged in the store.

As consumers are preferring home-cooked meals and storing larger quantities of grocery products, the demand for retail ready meat could escalate in the coming years. In consequence, meat and poultry companies are making large-scale investments in the production of case ready meat products. 

In 2021, Tyson Foods announced the expansion of its case-ready meat production by reopening its plant in Columbia. The company would also be investing $55 million over the next five years to convert the plant to produce retail ready packages of sliced fresh pork and beef for grocery stores in the eastern U.S.

What Does the Future Hold for RRP Market?

Changing consumer preference toward packaged food products and rising sales across the retail sector are expected to play a key role in advancing the growth graph of retail ready packaging market in the forthcoming years. Rising consumption of case ready meat and awareness regarding eco-friendly packaging materials will also trigger the production of sustainable and advanced RRP materials and solutions in the future.



How Is Technology Disrupting the Packaging Industry?

Packaging is no longer something that merely protects the item inside. It often helps to engage the consumer through interactivity, offers an eco-friendly feature, or has desirable material characteristics. All these improvements are largely due to advancements in packaging technology. Here are some of the latest advances made possible with tech that will likely remain impactful for the foreseeable future

Better Interactivity Courtesy of Augmented Reality

When a customer looks at shelves full of packaging, their gaze could land on dozens of possibilities before deciding which product to purchase. The package isn’t the only thing influencing them, of course. Maybe they’ve bought a certain brand before or got a recommendation from a friend. However, the packaging often plays a role, especially if it has bright colors or advertises a limited-edition design. 

Marketers have to continually push the boundaries to keep customers interested. Some do that by building augmented reality (AR) features into the packaging. A person usually only needs a smartphone to make the technology work, making it easy for them to see it in action. 

General Mills recently produced AR cereal boxes that turn into a drum machine or synth once someone points a phone at them. Placing pieces of cereal at certain places on the box determines what results people get. Each box also comes with five sound packs. 

In another case, edible products company Wana Brands released an AR package to promote its new cannabis product line. The technology, which takes people into a 3D animation experience,  works with both Android and iOS phones. Consumers activate it by scanning a QR code. They can then learn about several flavors of edible gummies, watch a YouTube video about them, or view the details for specific batches. 

Sometimes, the AR experience happens in the supermarket. Bothwell Cheese recently showed what’s possible in advertising its new line of lactose-free items. People scan a QR code on the packaging and see a floor-anchored hologram of a cheese chef appear in front of them. He goes through the lactose-free assortment and explains the benefits of those products. The brand launched this technology in hundreds of Canadian supermarkets. 

Improved Sustainability Through Creative Solutions

Ongoing scientific research warns that major changes must happen soon in society to stave off a widespread climate catastrophe. There are no easy solutions, but packaging specialists have investigated numerous ways to focus on sustainability. Sometimes, that happens by changing materials. For example, more than 400 organizations signed the New Plastics Economic Global Commitment. It signifies their intention to use 25% more recycled packaging by 2025. However, some sustainability efforts are happening now. 

Pacific Northwest grocery chain New Seasons Market recently changed the packaging for its private-label pasta, switching from the previous clamshell option. The new package uses 91% less plastic and will eliminate more than 120,000 clamshell packages from the waste stream each year. 

Scientists are also working on various possibilities in edible packaging. A biopolymer made from seaweed and a chemically modified material made from sea creature exoskeletons are some of the options under consideration. In most cases, the idea is to create an edible film to cover many foods sold to consumers. 

An Irish cafe even began using edible coffee cups made from a wafer-like material when its owners were looking for more sustainable ways to operate after the COVID-19 lockdowns. The consumable material tolerates a half-hour of heat before starting to dissolve. 

Chanel has also introduced its first refillable beauty package to the United Kingdom market. The products include no outer box, and the glass jar is lighter with a bio-based lid and inner pot. People can switch out the internal container for a refill when needed. That’s a sustainable decision that will save them money, too. The refills cost £13 (approximately $17) less than buying a completely new product.

Better Packaging Decisions Guided by Artificial Intelligence

It’s not always easy to figure out details like what size of box to use or the amount of bubble wrap to keep products safe until they reach their destinations. However, packaging technology is reducing the associated guesswork. Artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms draw conclusions humans couldn’t easily make without help. 

Getting Rid of Excess Packaging

Most people can probably recall occasions when they’ve ordered a relatively small item from an e-commerce site and noticed it arrived in a too-large box or surrounded by far too much padding. AI could help prevent such instances. 

Amazon’s data scientists created a statistical model that predicts the best ways to package particular products. It led to a 24% reduction in product damage while lowering the shipping costs by 5%. Amazon made $11.19 billion in sales during the 2021 Prime Days event alone. That suggests any significant progress it makes with packaging, via AI or otherwise, would have a notable impact. 

Logistics brand DHL is also using AI to improve packaging workflows and limit excess. It has an algorithm that provides real-time suggestions. Dietmar Steins, executive vice president of Global Solutions Design at DHL Supply Chain, explained how it works. 

“Based on the products, volumes, and sizes in question, the software not only suggests the optimal size of the outer packaging, [but] it also provides individual, visual instructions on how to ideally utilize the space inside the box. It’s highly intuitive ⁠— and not unlike the well-known computer game Tetris” 

Removing Packaging Plant Bottlenecks

AI also excels at analyzing data from connected sensors to alert people to issues they might otherwise miss. Leaders at Singapore-based Federal Packaging are working with a tech company regarding options for using  AI to predict downtime and other problems during box-production processes. The algorithm needs six to 12 months of information from the factory’s equipment before it will work. However, the payoff should be worthwhile.

“When we have data on our machines, we will know very quickly if there are abnormalities detected by the AI. This gives us more time to act earlier on any issues that occur, on top of actions that we have already taken,” said Lau Chee Herng, Federal Packaging’s chief vision officer.

These are just a couple of the ways AI has expanded what’s possible in the packaging sector. As more companies test its capabilities in real-life use cases, other brand decision-makers should feel encouraged to give it a try, too. 

Packaging Technologies Push the Industry Forward

When you think about advancements such as perforated strips that make shipping boxes easier to open or detergent bottles with built-in pour spouts, it’s easy to see that the packaging industry has achieved continual improvements over the years. The technologies detailed here are among those that will undoubtedly spur further innovation.