6 trends of the packaging industry in the future
Based on what we know and what is currently happening, it is not difficult to see the future of packaging; what will it be like in the future? By analyzing emerging technologies, global packaging industry trends, and market forecasts, we can get a relatively clear view of the potential of the packaging industry until 2028 and beyond.
Hoang Vuong Paper Packaging Company would like to share with readers information about the future of the packaging industry. We will consider everything from sustainability, design (innovative packaging), manufacturing (machine automation), operations (AI and blockchain technology), and solutions for the packaging industry. The 6 prominent trends in the future are:
1. Redefining packaging
2. Strengthening sustainability efforts
3. The rise of e-commerce
4. Solutions for box and corrugated carton packaging
5. Changes in manufacturing and operations
6. Automating home delivery.
Designing for packaging
In the next decade, service providers rather than product sellers will dominate. Therefore, consumers in the future will be able to enjoy a full shopping experience.
For example, instead of buying some ordinary branded beauty and hair products, the new service will provide a comprehensive personal care experience beyond the brand and attract customers on emotional, spiritual, and sensory levels.
With new technological advances, mass production will shift to more specialized and creative packaging to serve specific products and services.
Packaging is designed specifically for customers. Source: Mindsparkle Mag.
1. Redefining packaging
Although we all know that boxes, bags, bottles, and cardboard packaging are classic types of packaging, traditional packaging that grew up with us may be redefined in the future.
With the increasing demand of consumers comes an increasing need for convenience. Convenience demands innovative and technological advancements that open up new opportunities for businesses. Let’s explore some changes that we may see in the packaging industry.
1.1. Biodegradable packaging
Edible packaging is a creative and exciting alternative solution that helps reduce reliance on fossil fuels and can significantly reduce carbon emissions, which is what consumers are looking for.
Using raw materials extracted from algae, natural sweeteners, and natural dyes from fruit and vegetables shows the potential to provide the food industry with many colors, shapes, .etc. Moreover, it provides an enjoyable experience for customers beyond the packaging limits.
Edible packaging, source Dezeen
Edible packaging has been discovered and continues to gain credibility and market, with edible water bubbles launched in 2013. According to Design Boom, a sustainable packaging startup based in London, wants to move its water bubbles sales from stores or vending machines to the challenge of plastic waste on a global scale, as they tested the water bubbles at major sports events in 2018.
The edible packaging industry is estimated to grow at a CAGR (Compounded Annual Growth rate) of 6.81% from 2017 to 2023. This change to combat plastic packaging could become a standard sooner than we think!
Reducing waste is not limited to the food and beverage industry but also household items.
We have seen a significant emergence of water-soluble packaging for dishwashing liquids and laundry detergents. This is becoming more and more normal and will be part of the mainstream trend soon. Moreover, packaging made from corn starch seems to be becoming more popular in the retail and food and beverage industries.
The packaging is made from cornstarch. Source: Design and Paper
Items such as bags, takeaway boxes, and cutlery made from cornstarch are gaining attention in many industries, particularly in the fast-food industry. From a customer perspective, this seems attractive due to the development of environmentally conscious consumers.
1.2. Space saving
Storing and transporting large quantities of packaging is also considered unfriendly to the environment due to carbon emissions and waste. Planes, ships, and trucks transport goods to large warehouses for storage and retail distribution. And eventually, they will end up buried in landfills if they expire.
There is a lot of waste, especially in the food and beverage packaging industry. The space-saving packaging is needed to reduce transportation volume, storage, and waste.
So, what is the significance of space-saving packaging for the packaging design industry?
Square or rectangular packaging for stacking and storage purposes. This is not the most exciting design change, as we have had square or rectangular drink packaging for a long time. However, this concept has garnered quite a bit of attention. Boxed water has become trendy on social media platforms since its launch in 2009. This concept has become a standard in the beverage and soft drink industry.
Boxed drinks are also associated with sustainability because the use of plastic to produce boxed drinks has decreased significantly, giving way to paper and aluminum.
Benefits of space-saving packaging. Source: Boxed Water.
1.3. Smart Packaging
Also known as active packaging, intelligent packaging is witnessing tremendous growth in today’s packaging industry. According to Grand View Research, revenue from smart packaging reached $10.8 billion in 2015 and is expected to reach $26.7 billion in 2024.
From a consumer perspective, innovative packaging brings many added value benefits, including an enhanced unboxing experience, attractive visuals, product preservation and protection, source authentication, increased security, and connection with the supplier. For brands and manufacturers, a new media world is opening up. With more utilities to track consumer behavior, this type of packaging provides a more targeted experience to the market, allowing businesses to meet the needs of consumers effectively.
Although innovative packaging does not bring a new shape to our classic products, it reshapes the purpose and capabilities of packaging, allowing the packaging industry to explore the unknown.
We can see the deployment of two leading technologies for smart packaging: electronic printing and nanotechnology.
1.3.1. Electronic printing
Electronic printing is often known as near-field communication (NFC) and radio-frequency identification (RFID), smart LED/OLED lights with compact power sources, sensor screens, and data storage systems that provide consumers with unprecedented interaction.
Advanced materials and electronic printing devices with smart LED/OLED lights will bring a new level of product interaction, entertainment information, digital sales support, and online connectivity.
In simple terms, the sensor-activated screen is part of the packaging design and an essential part of the customer experience. Karl Knauer and INURU GmbH recently collaborated to create a Coca-Cola label illuminated using OLED printing, receiving the German Design Award for their innovative work.
By 2028, augmented reality (AR) technology will package additional visual, tactile, and auditory elements to significantly enhance the modeling and production process quality for manufacturers and the customer experience.
The market for nano-coatings is witnessing the highest growth rate, with a CAGR of nearly 25%, with anti-fingerprint nano-coatings topping the list for several industries, including packaging. Nanotechnology will also reduce packaging waste and create sustainability, with biodegradable nano-synthetic materials having great potential to replace non-biodegradable plastics produced from petroleum.
For example, with card-swiping or smart device scanning, packaging will provide features such as:
- Advanced tracking
- Anti-theft protection
- More data than what is printed on the label
- Animated images (e.g., product usage instructions)
- Online connectivity
- Interaction with integrated products
- Active monitoring
In the coming years, protective nano-materials will be used in hygiene and antibacterial packaging, particularly for medical, pharmaceutical, and food products. Along with advancements such as the use of chips in packaging, we have only seen the tip of the iceberg in the broad application of nanotechnology, and we can expect a new wave in the future.
1.3.3. Augmented Reality
With the emergence of Augmented Reality (AR), it’s time to start looking at how interactive technology will play a role in packaging design in the future. In the next decade, consumers can try products, check packaging options, and interact with product usage as companies build brand recognition and provide new forms of entertainment through packaging and products.
One company making waves in the use of AR technology is Zappar. Zappar has pushed forward several augmented reality campaigns. The packaging design industry will learn about many recent changes by normalizing this new packaging concept.
AR will not only enhance the level of interaction with the product but also provide a lot of data about the consumer, which can deliver measurable results and benefits for both customers and manufacturers. This will help provide a more personalized experience for each end consumer and make marketing and product launches in the future more appropriate and purposeful.
Basically, AR will provide more of what customers want!
2. Enhancing sustainability efficiency
Sustainability has been a clear trend in most industries beyond packaging and products. Consumers are seeking more environmentally-friendly shopping experiences, which is becoming more normal soon.
While environmentally-friendly options are less cost-effective, consumer spending on eco-friendly products is increasing. According to Survey Monkey, for every three consumers, one supports environmentally-friendly alternatives, and 35% of those surveyed will buy better environmentally-friendly products than other potentially cheaper products.
With more and more companies implementing environmentally-friendly packaging and environmentally aware and responsible consumers, sustainability has become a core focus for the packaging industry.
Environmentally-friendly recycled packaging. Source: Sustainable Packaging Industries.
Current trends include waste reduction, efficient use of box space, carbon emission reduction, and recycling. The field of packaging that can be decomposed may increase.
The biodegradable plastic packaging market is expected to have a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6.4% by 2028. Simply put, investing in sustainable packaging shows promising benefits for brands worldwide.
Sustainability has been a heavily discussed topic in the business and consumer world for the past few years. It can be said that because of this, sustainable packaging may become the new standard, completely replacing plastic packaging in the future.
3. The Rise of E-commerce
COVID-19 has abruptly changed daily life, causing people to lose experiences, events, and in-store services. E-commerce has become the primary form of shopping for consumers today. Without in-store experiences or opportunities for customer service during shutdowns, e-commerce has become the main form of shopping today.
Although e-commerce has been recognized as a high priority for businesses, the dependence on online shopping has increased the importance of e-commerce.
E-commerce has risen during the pandemic.
The pandemic has been a horrific time for everyone worldwide. However, online businesses have attracted a lot of attention. Due to the pandemic and overreliance on online means to search for job opportunities and shopping, e-commerce may have taken the lead. With giants like Amazon currently leading the market and the world of e-commerce, there is still plenty of room for progress.
The e-commerce shopping experience is becoming more suitable for customers, allowing brands to increase their market reach effectiveness, including through packaging. Manufacturers and service providers have standardized advertising, targeting specific audiences through algorithms and online customer behavior. The customer experience is highly customized through e-commerce.
This brings many opportunities for the packaging industry to specialize and customize their products at a higher level, particularly with the rise of intelligent packaging and the trends mentioned above.
4. Solutions for corrugated cardboard packaging
Based on market research and analysis, the future looks promising for all folded and corrugated cardboard packaging types. Valued at $155 billion in 2017, the global market is expected to double by 2025, expanding at a CAGR of 4.6% from 2017 to 2025. This strong growth may be attributed to increasing disposable incomes and consumer awareness, placing higher expectations on the quality of box packaging.
Eco-friendly corrugated cardboard packaging. Source: Mindspark Mag
With the demand for sustainable efforts, increasing applications for corrugated materials, and lower costs, there will be a massive boom for box packaging and corrugated cardboard.
Metal materials (such as steel and tin) are durable, cost-effective, and recyclable, but they are not perfect. Currently, we are seeing the use of reusable plastic containers (RPCs) for transporting fragile goods. To seize this opportunity, companies such as Aeroclay, Biome3D, and UFP Technologies are developing and improving biodegradable materials, making box packaging products more adaptable to a sustainable future.
5. Changes in 3D Printing Manufacturing & Operations
The technology of producing materials and additives for 3D printing has become quite important in recent years, with the ability to create complex shapes and designs on demand cannot be achieved through traditional manufacturing methods that require too many resources. In the future, 3D printing promises to elevate printing production by providing on-demand packaging.
For packaging prototypes, 3D printing will provide a much more optimal option than current methods, offering flexibility, efficiency, and cost reduction. This will require close integration between design and production.
3D printing will also provide a more sustainable path for the packaging industry, allowing it to produce at much lower costs. Shipping costs and CO2 emissions will be significantly reduced by integrating manufacturing facilities and warehouses.
Over the next decade, as print quality, production speed, and material selection diversify, 3D printing will have a greater impact than predicted on the packaging industry.
This also helps to use smaller and smarter factory spaces for prototyping and packaging production, along with smart warehouse factors like:
- Robotic process automation (RPA)
- Cognitive computing (artificial intelligence and machine learning)
- Internet of Things (IoT) connectivity.
Although we have come a long way in 3D printing, it is still in its infancy. Soon, we will see a shift from limited specialized production to 3D printing being used across all industries. By 2028 and beyond, 3D printing material and additive manufacturing processes will provide fully customizable on-demand solutions.
AI and Automation
Consumers in the future will expect products made-to-order to be shipped quickly. As mentioned, cognitive computing, robots, IoT connectivity, and other innovative technologies will come together to form comprehensive solutions to meet these needs through smart warehousing.
The shift from slow and manual processes today to faster and smarter processes tomorrow will rely on new solutions, including:
- Predictive maintenance (instead of waiting for machines to break, the system will predict and fix them accordingly)
- Cobots (robots that work alongside humans)
- Standardized IoT (allowing for efficient network connectivity)
- Integrated on-demand printing production.
When robots begin to take on more tasks, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) will become the focus of automated machinery. One company currently utilizing smart warehousing is the e-commerce giant Alibaba. Their automated warehouse robots can carry up to 500 kg and coordinate packaging positions around the warehouse.
We are witnessing the integration of robotic process automation (RPA) and cognitive computing services, which have begun to revolutionize warehouse and delivery management. In the coming years, there will be even stronger innovations in the logistics industry.
Another change that will continue to be maintained is the provision of on-demand warehousing. An example is Flexe, which helps e-commerce companies save warehousing costs and provide next-day delivery services almost everywhere in the United States by utilizing unused warehouse space.
Like Airbnb, companies will rent optimized warehouse space using the latest technology. This will result in higher efficiency and expansion opportunities without relying on the old model of buying and maintaining extensive, inefficient facilities.
Efficient transportation and logistics: Blockchain technology
Although Bitcoin has failed in the field of digital currency, the technology built on blockchain is believed to be able to disrupt everything, including the packaging industry.
The logistics cost in the United States is about $1.5 trillion per year, and while it continues to grow, two important issues still loom large in the industry: inefficient systems and fraud. Can blockchain technology address these issues?
By providing a decentralized digital ledger, blockchain will eliminate the need for intermediary shipping fees, paperwork, and other inefficient, easily damaged, and wasted activities.
Blockchain technology will streamline shipping processes while providing multiple levels of tracking, security, transparency, anti-counterfeiting, and cost efficiency that we have never seen before.
UPS is an example; they have begun investing in smart logistics through blockchain technology. A start-up that the giant full-service delivery company has invested in is ShipChain, creating a decentralized transportation and logistics platform to revolutionize the shipping process.
The future is coming quickly, and those holding blockchain now will be part of the logistics revolution. This brings opportunities for effective collaboration and reduces the complexity of the packaging industry and any industry. All stakeholders, from shippers and carriers to brokers, suppliers, and consumers, will soon witness and be directly affected by the development of this technology.
6. Automated Home Delivery
In 2028 and beyond, delivery as we know it will change. Anyone today can see a future filled with drones and self-driving vehicles. Through innovative projects such as Amazon’s drone delivery and Uber’s self-driving vehicles, automated home delivery is rapidly becoming a reality.
6.1. Self-driving Trucks
In 2016, self-driving truck startup Otto, acquired by Uber, successfully delivered 2,000 cases of beer over 120 km. This marked the first commercial delivery through autonomous technology and drew the attention of companies worldwide for its safety, speed, and efficiency.
According to the World Economic Forum, automated delivery could reduce accidents by up to 70%, fuel consumption by 20%, and save up to 1.2 billion hours of transportation over a decade.
6.2. Drone Delivery and Concerns
Drone delivery is leading the charge for top delivery solutions, but this technology is not without issues. Many are concerned about the complexities of delivering to a specific location, especially in densely populated urban areas. There is also the risk of theft, property damage, privacy infringement through data collection, and safety (cargo weight), which could harm the unmanned delivery technology.
6.3. Alternative Delivery Options
Some alternative options currently being considered include underground transport tubes, automated drone taxis, unmanned cargo ships, and sidewalk delivery robots.
Along with this, engineers are developing software, sensors, artificial intelligence technology, vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication, and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) communication to help guide the future of delivery. Of course, the acceptance of high-altitude automated flying robots, self-driving cars, and automated ships traveling along waterways will take time to complete.
Some people will be very happy when that happens, while others may not be interested. Regardless, what seemed like science fiction will soon become a reality.
As the world moves towards more advanced and sustainable methods, packaging manufacturers and consumers will benefit from revolutionary efforts to transform the customer experience, production, transportation, and environmental protection.
Companies and brands that can anticipate and adapt to these future trends and incorporate them into their packaging strategies will reap the rewards of being ahead of the market.
In particular, the COVID-19 pandemic still significantly impacts companies and industries worldwide, and these future trends will bring significant benefits to companies in the e-commerce world in which we live today.
Looking to the future is also the way that manufacturers print changes.
HOANG VUONG PAPER PACKAGING CO., LTD.
With over 13 years of operation in the paper packaging industry and having built a reputation for its brand in the market, Hoang Vuong Paper Packaging Company is proud to be a private packaging enterprise in Vietnam that has accompanied many large brands both domestically and internationally.
Hoang Vuong Paper Packaging Co., Ltd. always accompanies your company on the journey of seeking creativity and innovation. Your success is our achievement and motivation to continue to be more creative and professional.