The Complete Package – Packaging

10 Nov 2014

Packaging within the food and drink industry is not only one of the largest sectors – it’s also one of the most innovative. With the sheer volume of products developed and released a year, it’s somewhat of a mission keeping up with all the ideas across design, functionality and sustainability that these products are prime […]

The Complete Package – Packaging

Packaging within the food and drink industry is not only one of the largest sectors – it’s also one of the most innovative. With the sheer volume of products developed and released a year, it’s somewhat of a mission keeping up with all the ideas across design, functionality and sustainability that these products are prime examples of.

Those tuned to the industry will know that sustainability in particular is a contentious issue that has seen countless changes made to food and drink packaging in the past decade. With pressure on companies to produce food and drink packaging that ticks myriad boxes, it’s no surprise to find that recyclability comes high on the agenda. With the boom in food on the go as a real growth area, consumers now demand packaging that is sympathetic to being plucked from the shelf, eaten in transit and easily disposed of. Those who have not innovated in this area will no doubt have seen drop-offs in profit as others seek to miniaturise or somewhat repackage their products in more appealing ways.

Automation has certainly played its part, coupled with an attitude towards health and safety, particularly within traceability and integrity of packaging that other industries would be wise to adopt the key features of. With hygiene also an issue, the challenge has been to create packaging that not only displays food and drink well, but that also keeps it safe from contamination, strong odours and damage during transit, both along the supply chain and by the consumer in equal measure.

While there is certainly no panacea, investment is key in this area. With the sheer amount of agencies and expertise on offer from a host of specialised and informed industries such as paper, card, metals, plastics and other pliant materials, choice for manufacturers has never been better and it could be argued that aesthetics have never looked bolder, brighter or more appealing. One recent example of success within packaging having an impact directly on consumer choice is Coca Cola’s ‘Have a Coke with…’ campaign, which not only personalised the selection process for consumers, but also gave  a new lease of life to a long-established and familiar brand.

With more and more materials now easier and, perhaps more importantly, cheaper to recycle, there seems to be a race to the finish for all packaging to one day become 100% sustainable. This remains a real challenge, though, particularly in the field of plastics and for packaging made up of several different integrated materials, and achieving the goal seems a good few years away. However, the fact that the industry is even looking into this possibility is encouraging indeed.

Packaging is a diverse, fast-moving sector, but one that is second only to the food and drink it contains – something which the industry would be wise to remember.

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