The consumer continues to drive packaging trends that retailers are passing back up the chain to original equipment manufacturers (OEM) and their engineering teams. In its recently released market research reports “2017 Trends in Food Processing Operations” and “2017 Top to Top Summit Report,” PMMI, the Association for Packaging and Processing, identified the primary drivers.

With the global growth of the middle class is growing, more nutritious food options are becoming affordable to entirely new audiences. On-the-go eating persists globally, with consumers looking for portion control and convenience in bite-size, flavorful and healthy foods. Evening and relaxation foods with quick preparation times are growing in consumption, with consumers targeting weekends for full-meal experiences.

Customer demands are multi-faceted – they want products that are safe, healthy, clean, fresh, organic, unique, easy to use, sustainable and available in a variety of channels, e.g. Amazon, Costco, Kroger, Walmart, etc. These multiple channels put further pressure on consumer packaged goods (CPG) production operations as each channel wants products produced, packaged and distributed (customized) uniquely for them, e.g. variety in SKUs, case count, pack size, display, primary versus secondary packaging options, etc. With so much coming at them so fast, CPGs can’t always predict what’s going to happen, so speed-to-market becomes critical for them as the degree and pace of change becomes overwhelming to them – and for many, the level of change drives their capacity beyond existing assets.

Since CPGs can’t standardize on these increasing number of SKUs, their production operations require more flexibility, shorter runs, greater use of co-manufacturers, finding the right talent, and multi-functional equipment capable of quick and efficient changeovers.

Regardless of when or how meals are eaten, consumers are increasing caution when it comes to what is in food. The rise of clean labels is a testament to this trend as 37% of U.S. consumers long to understand ingredients on food labels, and 91% believe that products with recognizable ingredients are healthier. To meet these evolving consumer demands food processors have already started the process of reformulating products by removing ingredients found to be unsafe and reformulating with healthier sustainable ingredients. Clean labeling has led to an increase in fortified food additives, to add calcium, protein, iron, vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants to food.

The leading avenue for finding solutions to the latest packaging challenges is PACK EXPO Las Vegas 2017 (Las Vegas Convention Center; Sept. 25-27). As North America’s largest packaging event – co-located with Healthcare Packaging EXPO – the two shows will bring together more than 30,000 attendees and 2,400 suppliers of packaging technologies. The show offers several features to enhance the attendee experience, including the Containers and Materials Pavilion, the Reusable Packaging Pavilion and the PMMI Education & Workforce Development Pavilion. Attendees should also take advantage of free and convenient educational presentations delivered at three Innovation Stage locations, addressing the latest packaging challenges and real-world solutions.

To learn more and register for PACK EXPO Las Vegas, visit

PMMI, The Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies, represents more than 800 North American manufacturers and suppliers of equipment, components and materials as well as providers of related equipment and services to the packaging and processing industry. We work to connect consumer goods companies with manufacturing solutions through the PACK EXPO portfolio of trade shows, leading trade media and a wide range of resources to empower our members. PMMI Media Group connects manufacturers to the latest solutions, trends and innovations in packaging and processing year-round. PMMI Business Drivers assist members in pursuing operational excellence through workforce development initiatives.

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