When it comes to packaging, it can be argued that nothing appeals more to a consumer’s eye in the aisles more than beautifully and strategically designed packaging. Personally, I believe it’s the little things in life that bring the most joy, the products I know and love being some of them. Whether I’m browsing snack foods or cosmetics, I’m always looking at the packaging for something to relate to, that appeals to me, my personal tastes and lifestyle. Something that I’ll feel good not just using, but opening and looking at each day.

According to a recent report by Transparency Market Research (transparencymarketresearch.com), I’m one of many consumers that are feeling this way and the rising demand from the packaged food and cosmetic industries is what is fueling the growing, global paperboard packaging market.

The report states that the global paperboard packaging market will expand at a healthy 7.8% CAGR through 2020 and rise to $181.81 billion. The report states that the steadily growing demand for sustainable packaging across the globe, coupled with the rising demand for paperboard packaging from the global cosmetics industry, is the key factor driving the market.

The report goes on to segment the global paperboard packaging market on the basis of product type, key application area, and geography. With so much growth already since 2013 and a continuing rise in demand, the paperboard packaging market is continuing to expand and grow more and more competitive and therefore, innovative.

One segment of paperboard packaging seeing more growth is in beverage cartons, specifically in the craft beer segment. The Paperboard Packaging Council (PPC) recently announced three beverage cartons who received Judges’ Awards in the 2015 North American Paperboard Packaging Competition for their designs.

TPC Printing and Packaging (tpcpackaging.com) took home a Judges Award for its Chambord Black Raspberry Liqueur carton. The carton is manufactured from special duplex purple laminated to pink vat-dyed board. The package features gold stamping, silk screening and a pop of contrast with the exposed pink board edges. Structurally, its auto-bottom has an extension from the front panel that creates a double floor to accommodate the weight of the product

Targeted at Millennials who are looking for new and exciting cocktail refreshments, WestRock (WestRock.com) took a Judges’ Award home for its metallized Mixx Tails Beer carton. The carton, enhanced with a metalized Unilustre coating, generates in-aisle stopping power, but does not create any noticeable caliper change, keeping the board’s tear strength and stiffness intact. Other graphics like the vibrant splash of the cocktail and the Bud Light logo further differentiate this award-winning carton.

Paperworks Industries, Inc.’s (paperworksindustries.com) Brasseurs du Nord beer carrier was honored with a Judges’ Award thanks to its creative and elegant solution to a growing problem in the beer sector – traditional paperboard beer carriers are unable to stack if they house cans. This beer carrier however, features a retractable carrying handle that, when lowered to can-level, allows for easy stacking during transport and easy product access. The handle provides convenient and comfortable takeaway from the shelf.

The die-cut handle blank works by being folded onto itself to create a double thickness for additional stability. Both the design and the thickness provide the performance strength required to lift the six pack via the carrying handle. The handle’s ability to slide back down into the middle of the carton delivers the stacking attributes that the brewery desired.

Also new from Paperworks is ClubStak™, an innovative paper-based packaging solution designed to not only help brand owners and retailers improve the overall consumer experience, but meet package performance requirements and drive sales growth.

ClubStak’s construction features an outer carton made from 100% coated recycled paperboard and an internal liner made with custom-selected, paper-based material to address specific application needs. The liner material is applied in a strategic orientation to add strength to the structure. The result? A crush-resistant package offering similar performance attributes to corrugate, like strength, rigidity and stackability, but also offering the high-quality graphics appeal of a folding carton.

Taking it a step further in the carton segment, Platinum Press (PlatinumPress.com), a leading supplier of healthcare packaging solutions for the pharmaceutical, medical device and animal care sectors, is now offering Combination Carton. The combined carton and insert is made possible by the insert consolidated into the carton itself.

Since fewer overall packaging components are needed, the carton/insert combination significantly reduces manufacturing costs by increasing line speeds and diminishing machine downtime. To guarantee a quality and accurate product, every insert and carton is electronically scanned and inspected to confirm a match.

Paperboard packaging proves to be an ideal and significant medium when building a brand’s personality, whether that’s for a food product, cosmetic or so on. In response, Neenah (neenahpaper.com) has introduced five creative packaging ideas with unique and premium paper to extend companies’ brandings. 

At first glance, Neenah’s Character promotion looks like a fashion brand’s shopping bag, but the mysterious carry case is actually the home of the five different creative packaging samples that showcase a multitude of Neenah’s premium packaging papers and printing techniques.

Designed by Design Army, the promotion is the third in a series of three-dimensional Neenah promotions that focuses on brand packaging. The outer carry case, constructed of a combination of NEENAH® Folding Board, and SO…SILK® Papers, uses a deep, full emboss and foil stamping to create the eye-catching and sturdy structure.

Design Army developed brand characters for each of the five samples found inside the case. Each one represents a different demographic and branch of the retail industry. The first, Digi-Generation, are avid online and digital shoppers. The second, The New Shopaholics, are on the cutting edge of style and social networking, with disposable income. The third, The Artisan Crafters, are reared on cooking shows and food blogs value craftsmanship and creativity. The fourth, The Savvy Socials, are devoted to cultivating their online personas alongside their real-life personalities. And finally, the Eco Evangelizers value sustainability.

As a hot topic within the paperboard and corrugated markets, sustainability is also effecting the new innovations rolling out from suppliers. ORBIS Corporation (orbiscorporation.com) specifically, is an international manufacturer of sustainable reusable packaging and an expert in supply chain optimization.

ORBIS recently introduced PlastiCorr, the first-ever plastic, reusable corrugated box to work seamlessly with existing automated packaging lines. This groundbreaking box brings environmental, economic, cleanliness and operational benefits to today’s food, beverage and consumer packaged goods companies. With its transformational impact on sustainability and positive environmental stewardship, PlastiCorr marks a defining shift in supply chain efficiency for food, beverage and consumer packaged goods companies alike.

It’s safe to say that paperboard packaging will continue as a strong and popular option thanks to its versatility and ability to differentiate products so well on the shelves. With the power in the consumer’s pockets, unique, flexible and sustainable packaging proves to continuously be in demand from suppliers and shoppers alike.

Q&A with a paperboard packaging leader, Jason Pelz, Carton Council of North America

Packaging Strategies: How is the sustainable packaging landscape changing?

Jason Pelz: Research is showing that consumers consider more than the actual product in their purchasing decisions. The 2015 Nielsen Global Corporate Sustainability Report showed that 60 percent of global consumers say they’re willing to pay more for sustainable brands. One way for food and beverage companies to demonstrate sustainability efforts to consumers is through their product packaging. While recycling and end-of-life of a packaging continues to be critical, more and more companies are expanding their view of sustainability to other parts of the lifecycle and we see an increased emphasis in packaging material type and sourcing, for example.

PS: What makes carton packaging sustainable?

Pelz: Cartons are made mainly from paper, a 100% renewable resource from responsibly-managed forests. They are also lightweight (another popular packaging trend right now) and compact, which contribute to a low carbon footprint through their lifecycle. In addition, cartons are a recyclable commodity that can be recycled into new products, such as paper towels and tissues, as well as green building materials like wallboard, sheathing, ceiling tiles and backerboard.

PS: How does the Carton Council work with food and beverage companies regarding cartons?

Pelz: We work with a growing network of companies who want to educate their consumers about the recyclability of cartons. These “Carton Recycling Champions” have enthusiasm for raising awareness about carton recycling and collaborate with us to get consistent and accurate information about carton recycling they can pass on to the people who buy their products.

Jason Pelz is vice president of recycling projects for the Carton Council of North America. He is also vice president of environment for Tetra Pak Cluster Americas. In his role for the Carton Council, he works with food and beverage brand owners, local municipalities and communities, and other third parties such as recyclers and paper mills to increase the availability of carton recycling in the U.S. and Canada. He can be reached at jason.pelz@tetrapak.com.