A better supply chain serves us all. Let's eat.

4 Global Packaging Trends That Will Affect the Fresh Supply Chain

Posted by IFCO Systems
January 26, 2017

As more and more brands pursue the direct attention of shoppers, their efforts at packaging differentiation can become white noise. Mintel’s new report, Global Packaging Trends 2017, identifies trends that consumer packaged goods (CPG) producers and packaging designers are following to rise above the competition. Fresh supply chain and produce industry professionals should consider these trends and the implications for their own packaging and transport packaging, such as reusable plastic containers (RPCs).

1. Packaging that Supports Brand Identity and Extensions

Mintel says now is the time "for brands to roll out unique packaging structures that not only differentiate on shelf, but also help form and support brand identity, as well as give consumers an incentive to spend time with them."  Shoppers are more likely to connect with packages that delight while speaking to product quality and provide ease of use. Mintel notes the global shift toward clean label messaging (messaging which supports attributes such as transparency, simplicity, and less processing).

Examples of functionality resonating with customers include laundry detergent bottles from Method with a pinch-waist design that provide an ergonomic hand grip, as well as the migration of products such as sour cream from plastic tubs to convenient inverted dispensing pouches. Another example of brands leveraging their identity through brand extension is Carlsberg, which now offers a line of masculine grooming products with packaging linked to its iconic green beer bottle and logo. 

2. Packaging With E-Commerce and Omnichannel in Mind

While E-commerce is still a niche channel, its potential looms large. Market segments such as luxury goods have already invested considerably in E-commerce packaging, but Mintel observes that "the majority of grocery brands have yet to capitalize on the role of packaging in the E-commerce shopper moment."

Look for an increased emphasis on grocery E-commerce packaging that will charm consumers, while offering convenience and functionality. Case in point, Graze, a food snack offering, has designed a pack that will fit through a mail slot. Brands are also developing packages that will work well for both E-commerce and general distribution. For example, Nutpods incorporated features such as a compact shape for shipping, robust design, and ability to handle fluctuating temperatures into its omnichannel packaging design.

3. “Smart” Packaging

Smart packaging is coming. It includes active packaging, which provides functionality such as moisture control, and intelligent packaging, which can indicate product status, including temperature exposure, as well as other information.

While smart packaging technologies are sophisticated in design, they can offer ease of use and communicate valuable information to customers. Mintel anticipates that brands will increasingly look to smart packaging to connect with consumers in real-time. For example, it states that 50% of U.S. consumers are interested in scanning food packaging to find out more about the origin of fresh produce they see on the shelf.

One example of smart packaging is Insignia’s color-change label, which changes color over time to correspond to product freshness. Easy to use for consumers, it eliminates the often confusing challenge of understanding "sell-by" or "use by" date codes. Another example is SmartLabel, a technology which provides instant access to product information from smartphones.

4. Packaging that Provides an Individualized Experience

Mintel observes that while 52% of U.S. shoppers are interested in packaging with unusual or visually appealing designs, globalization and mass production has led to a “sea of packaging that all looks the same.” Look for packaging designs that create new opportunities to celebrate individuality while still offering efficient production, driving brand values such as fun, community or authenticity.

In Japan, Mintel reports, there is a practice of writing supportive messages on a pack of KitKat chocolate bars and giving them for good luck to students taking exams. With this in mind, the company now offers a ready-to-mail KitKat pack that needs only a stamp. Another example of personalized experience is Scratchpad 2014 Coast Sauvignon Blanc, which comes with a blank label and a pencil so that the buyer can design a unique label. The bottle features Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest logos, encouraging shoppers to share their label messages on social media.

What Do the Trends Mean for RPCs?

While the trends outlined above speak to consumer packaging, they also indirectly emphasize the importance of reusable plastic containers (RPCs). The use of RPCs signals a retailer's determination to deliver fresh products in the best possible condition - providing an elegant solution for transport packaging in both e-commerce and bricks and mortar supply chains.

If you’re eager to differentiate your brand through packaging in 2017, consider that IFCO offers exclusive merchandising tools to help customize your point-of-sale displays.  As consumer packaging trends continue to evolve, watch for RPCs to play an even more important role in support of that transition.

New Call-to-action