Automation and eco-friendly solutions are driving innovation in the global packaging industry, as companies customise their offerings and amp up production to meet rising demand fuelled by the COVID-19 pandemic. A new review by MarketNgage, a market research and search platform, calls out some of the areas to watch in the packaging field.
Of note in the nutraceutical and broader food and beverage industry is the continued focus on sustainable packaging solutions. The report called out funding worth US$2.73 million by UK Research and Innovation in this area, part of the Future Plastic Packaging Solutions Fund; the projects will include bio-based polymers, reusable formats, dissolvable packaging materials, and circular recycling systems for blister packs. The analysis expects to see circular packaging design concepts as a key trend, encouraging consumers to reuse, return and recycle.
The issue of recyclability is one to watch, coupled with safe, secure packaging solutions. One example is a new patented paper security seal, VOID, from Securikett; the seal cannot be replaced once peeled off the product, and is made from pulp fiber, which can be recycled up to eight times. Security is being addressed not only on package, but on the back end to enhance cybersecurity to minimise vulnerabilities to hacking.
Other issues around technology are also under scrutiny. One focus is in the area of augmented reality, which has been integrated by brands looking to build consumer engagement. Pizza Hut, for example, launched a limited-edition AR carton allowing consumers to play games through QR codes. Another focus is on the production side, in which automation in packaging processes and the use of blockchain technologies are together improving quality control productivity and reducing downtime.
Finally, the report calls out an emphasis by the packaging sector on addressing its environmental impact. Flexible packaging could fulfill the desires of consumers on sustainable purchases; UFlex, as an example, introduced a new laminate structure based on BOPP film for food products, as well as new options for pharma packaging that boosts resistance to abrasion and chemicals without greenhouse gas emissions. And developments such as micro-cellular foaming processes will help in reducing packaging weight, directly cutting down on environmental impact of packaging but without compromising on performance.