Packaging Trends: The Future of the Packaging Industry

Nick Mirev
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    Packaging is part of our daily lives. That’s why it is no surprise that the packaging industry is one of the biggest in the world economy. The packaging market is dominated by B2B sales. Most businesses purchase wholesale packaging. A small percentage of items are also sold retail. The eCommerce renaissance has also helped the packaging industry grow significantly. Like everything else, this market is prone to changes. There are multiple packaging trends that are aimed at improving the packaging process for businesses and the unpacking experience for customers. Sustainability and investments in eco-friendly materials have been the two major influences in the packaging industry in recent years. In this blog post, we’ll share more about the trends in food and eCommerce packaging. Make sure to also check our posts on how to ship a package and packaging tips.

    Key takeaway: Sustainability is the main trend in the packaging field. Manufacturers are looking for ways to make eco-friendly packaging solutions more affordable. Packaging design has also changed a lot. Minimalist design is one of the hot packaging trends that is likely here to stay.
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    Top Packaging Trends

    Eco-Friendly and Sustainable Packaging

    It is no surprise that this is the biggest packaging trend in recent years. As the plastics industry continues to increase its output, packaging has become one of the biggest polluters worldwide. The majority of plastics are used by the packaging industry. That’s why governments, institutions, manufacturers, and other businesses have been investing in new technologies and innovations in the field of eco-friendly packaging. Let’s briefly examine the most popular biodegradable packaging alternatives.

    • Paper. It is both recyclable and biodegradable. That makes it an excellent alternative to plastic packaging. It’s important for paper and cardboard to be manufactured sustainably as the production of paper is among the leading causes of deforestation.
    • Cornstarch. This material is derived from corn and has multiple applications. Cornstarch packaging and single-use items are easy to produce and affordable.
    • Seaweed. Its main benefit compared to other alternatives is that seaweed packaging can also be edible.
    • Synthetic biodegradable plastic. Thanks to technological innovations, the market has come up with various petroleum-based plastics that are also biodegradable. Examples include polybutylene succinate (PBS) and polyvinyl alcohol (PVA).

    Smart Packaging

    This umbrella term refers to combining different technologies to increase the functionality of packaging. For example, thanks to intelligent packaging, businesses can improve traceability and automate the warehouse scanning process. That is done with the help of technologies like RFID or NFC.

    Smart packaging can also enhance customer interaction with the product. QR codes can be printed on the packaging and scanned by customers who wish to know more about the product before they purchase it. 

    Active Packaging

    This term refers to packaging that offers more than simply protecting and containing the products. Instead, thanks to active packaging, the shelf life of products can be extended and their freshness can be monitored. There are multiple other uses of active packaging and new ones are introduced every year. Active packaging is popular mostly for food and beverage products. Make sure to ask your supplier of wholesale food packaging goods about the different active packaging options.

    Contract Packaging

    As consumers value convenience greatly, the rise of online sales has increased a lot in recent years. This has led to the decline of the brick-and-mortar model. New small eCommerce businesses emerge constantly. These small enterprises often outsource various processes. This has made contract packaging one of the popular packaging trends. Some businesses also outsource shipping and handling to 3PL companies. By outsourcing warehousing and packaging, they can focus on sales, marketing, and product development.

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    Packaging Design Trends


    Although packaging design is usually eye-catching and filled with bright colors, our brains are so used to this that they might filter these options. That’s why minimalism in packaging design has become a growing trend. That’s especially true for sustainable eCommerce packaging where the packaging has no role in the buying process. In fact, people are more likely to enjoy the unboxing if the packaging is minimalist and classy.

    Interactive and Custom Packaging

    Buying products is rarely done because of the need for said goods. Instead, it’s an experience. The packaging also plays a role in that experience. Here are a few examples of the interactive packaging trend.

    1. Scratch-and-sniff labels on cosmetics;
    2. Biodegradable packaging embedded with seeds that can be planted instead of thrown away;
    3. QR codes on packaging that can offer an additional experience;
    4. Physically interactive packaging that transforms and can be repurposed.

    Retro Design

    As the market is oversaturated with flashy and modern packaging designs, retro looks have become trendy again. The retro vibe offers a comforting feeling for older generations and an exotic look for young consumers. 

    Inspired by Nature

    As more people look for organic products, the design of packaging often includes elements of nature. These elements are often associated with eco-friendliness and can significantly help with sales. This packaging trend is common in the food and cosmetics industries.

    Brutalist Fonts

    Products often rely on aggressive fonts instead of aggressive colors for their packaging design. This has led to the popularity of the brutalist type. These fonts can be combined with light colors and saturated pastels.

    Semi-Opaque and Transparent Packaging

    Being able to see the product can have a positive impact on the decision to buy it. That’s why businesses aim to increase their D2C sales by introducing fully or partially transparent packaging.

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    Frequently Asked Questions about Future Packaging Trends

    The packaging industry is undoubtedly changing. Eco-friendly and recyclable packaging is the most popular trend currently but new technologies and innovations can lead to other trends. If you’re interested in the packaging industry, the BlueCart team has answered some commonly asked questions about packaging trends below.

    What Are the Most Popular Packaging Types?

    There are three main packaging categories - primary, secondary, and tertiary. Primary and secondary packaging are the most popular ones. In terms of types, paper and cardboard are among the most popular packaging varieties. There are hundreds of different packaging types made of these two materials. Plastics are also on par with paper in terms of popularity in the packaging industry. Polyethylene and polypropylene are the most popular plastics. The two combined hold more than 50% of the share of all plastics produced.

    In addition to paper and plastics, glass and metals (mostly tin and aluminum) are also very common packaging materials.

    How Will the Packaging Market Size Change?

    The global packaging market is among the largest industries in the world. That’s why the annual growth of this market is expected to be between one and three percent. Sustainable packaging is the main driver in the industry. The costs of manufacturing biodegradable plastic alternatives are still higher compared to synthetic polymers. Even though packaging is one of the main polluters in the world, the industry is not expected to shrink in the near future. Instead, the demand for eco-friendly alternatives will increase and manufacturers will slowly switch towards production of such products.

    What Types of Packaging Will Be Used in the Future?

    The switch to biodegradable and eco-friendly packaging solutions is not expected to slow down. That’s why it can be predicted that these products will be primarily used in the near future. Currently, businesses in the packaging manufacturing industry invest a lot in research and development related to nanotechnologies. Nanocomposites have the potential to make packaging more eco-friendly and to reduce packaging costs for manufacturers and businesses.

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