Our December monthly poll asked “What was the hottest packaging trend in 2018?”


"More sustainable packaging choices” was the top trend according to Packaging Strategies online readers, at 54 percent. It’s no surprise that sustainable packaging choices was the top trend by viewers — considering the many packagers, brands and retailers making the move toward reducing plastic in their supply chains.

From recycled materials and lightweighted bottles to film technologies, this is a trend on the upswing. Suppliers will surely continue to work toward more sustainable offerings due not only to consumer demand but also brands and retailers seeking to claim sustainable, recyclable or compostable packaging as well as supply chain methods by 2025 or earlier.


The rise of cannabis packaging came in as the second hottest trend at 18 percent.  The legalization of medical use — in addition to many states passing recreational use laws — spurred growth in the sector. Most all types of packaging materials can be used to package cannabis.

Kush, a cannabis packaging company, made nearly $20 million in the first half of 2018--more than its entire revenue from 2017, says an article from INC. The company sells child-resistant glass jars, vape pens and pre-rolled tubes, and a reusable child-resistant "exit bag" that dispensaries can brand.


Machinery becoming more automated stood at 12 percent. We have seen more automated machinery each year and it looks like it won’t slow down. In fact, according to a report by PMMI, 55 percent of end users will use robots in automation solutions. As well,  25 percent actually have a budget specifically for automation investments.

Look around at any packaging trade show and you will see more use of automation than ever before. This is a segment that will continue to grow, with new and smarter equipment.

Smart Packaging

The increased use of smart packaging came in fourth at 8 percent. A little surprising, seeing that many brands are beginning to see the rewards from adding NFC tags, augmented reality and other smart platforms to their product packaging.

The beer/wine/spirits, beverage, snack food and prepared food, and personal care markets are using smart packaging more and more to engage consumers. It will only grow.