Much like consumers themselves, food and beverage packaging must juggle several priorities: On-the-go eating for the fast-paced lifestyle that’s become the norm; portion control to address health and wellness concerns; and sustainability benefits to satisfy eco-conscious shoppers. As a result, there’s a renewed focus on convenience, portability and sustainability—trends so well-established they might be considered classics.
PACK EXPO International 2014 (McCormick Place, Chicago; Nov. 2–5) will offer food and beverage brand owners a chance to explore the latest packaging innovations for meeting these demands. For a preview of these technologies, we spoke with Jorge Izquierdo, vice president, market development of PMMI, The Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies, which owns and produces the PACK EXPO family of trade shows.
FE: Let’s talk formats. As a result of these trends, what can we expect to see more of in 2014?
Izquierdo: Modern packaging is all about adjusting to the needs of changing consumer lifestyles. People appreciate convenience more than ever. Over-scheduled parents have over-scheduled kids, and then go to work and find they’re busier than ever. Consumers demand both portability and assurances that the food they carry with them will be tasty and nutritious.
As a result, we see a rise in popularity for pouch-styled food and beverage packages among both consumers and retailers. Besides often costing less to ship, pouches take up less shelf space in stores and in consumers’ homes. Furthermore, this format often provides ample billboard space for innovative and eye-catching print effects and graphics to enhance shelf appeal.
Health concerns also will continue to drive major changes in package design. Consumers are reacting positively to smaller packaging and smaller, single-serve portion options. Moreover, consumers like resealable packages as a way to reduce waste and save money. They can be environmentally sensitive and still enjoy what they want when they want it.
FE: How do these current trends in packaging meet demands for minimal environmental impact and what are some challenges?
Izquierdo: Concern for the environment is not a fad; it is simply a fact for today’s food and beverage manufacturers. Companies are seeking ways to minimize their carbon footprint by streamlining operations, using eco-friendly materials, and reducing material usage with different structural designs.
Although reducing material through light-weighting or innovative design often boosts sustainability scores, it is critical to ensure that the package retains its structural integrity. Packaging that doesn’t perform by protecting the product can result in wasted resources and cost. Products that make it all the way to store shelves and are not purchased because they appear damaged can actually contribute to fully-costed waste: the largest drain on both environmental and financial resources that a brand owner can experience.
FE: What advice would you give product manufacturers looking to grow in 2014 and beyond?
Izquierdo: To help food and beverage manufacturers leverage opportunities and adapt to evolving demands, PACK EXPO International 2014 will offer insight on trends and cutting-edge technologies – and will be North America’s largest resource for discovering processing and packaging innovation. Brand managers and package designers looking for inspiration will have resources such as The Brand Zone, where the latest and greatest in paperboard, glass, metal, plastic and flexible packaging will be featured. Attendees focused on food and beverage processing will find what they need, too; one in five exhibitors will present technology solutions for processing. While The Processing Zone will clearly be a hub for such technologies, these exhibitors will be found throughout the show.
For more information, visit Packexpo.com.