Meeting consumer demands for convenience continues to be a strong driver for existing and new packaging technologies. Meanwhile, sustainability remains top-of-mind for manufacturers and their suppliers, which reflects growing consumer awareness of and preference for sustainable products and packaging. Other market sectors like healthcare are looking to packaging to improve patient safety and enable more effective drug delivery.
As the packaging industry gears up for the upcoming PACK EXPO East 2020 (March 3-5; Pennsylvania Convention Center, Philadelphia), we spoke to several key thought leaders to glean perspectives on marketplace trends. Their views offer insights on a number of trends facing global consumer products companies, equipment manufacturers, OEM suppliers and everyone in between.
Hershey: Standing Up to the Retail Challenge
Josh Becker, Senior Manager Packaging Systems Engineering, The Hershey Company
Hershey’s brand identity has been synonymous with creating moments of goodness and delight for consumers. However, there is a critical need to provide a more visual experience for customers. While a product’s quality is what drives production, customers are also driven by what the product looks like on the shelf.
For years The Hershey Company has produced products in lay-down bags fabricated from standard packaging equipment, but this type of packaging limited the shelf impact of Hershey’s brands. Products didn’t billboard well, and this made it difficult for busy consumers with limited time to sort through products to find the variety they were seeking.
This has resulted in a shift toward stand-up pouches, which has redefined how Hershey’s confections appear on store shelves. Other packaging elements such as deploying high gloss graphics and introducing laser scoring to simplify and improve package openings were implemented to improve visibility. There had been some tearing in closures with stand-up pouches, and these improvements have been designed to enhance the overall consumer experience.
Consumers are also looking for variety and different formats and sizes. As such, graphics were adjusted to call out more prominently family size, sharing size, weights and quantities. Consumers need to know what our bags contain is exactly what we showcase in our graphics.
Hershey’s has also invested in point-of-purchase displays so that products are retail-ready. There is a greater emphasis on billboarding with stand-up pouches that are more noticeable. Modular display pallets are able to meet demands at critical high-sales periods such as Valentine’s Day and Halloween when consumers are particularly concerned about piece-count in their purchases.
The company closely examines sales analytics to determine customer preferences and to create packaging to appeal to diverse tastes. Looking ahead to challenges such as e-commerce, we are investigating options within our manufacturing network to determine the most cost-effective logistics for meeting consumer demands for home delivery.
PMMI Convenience-Enhancing Features Take Shape Across Different Industries
Tom Egan, vice president, industry services, PMMI, The Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies
The packaging industry is experiencing some key shifts that focus on brand experience. Demand for convenience is a strong driver of change. There is a big push for flexible packaging because of the convenience it provides for consumers and manufacturers recognize flexible formats as an asset in building brand loyalty. Consumers like the ability to squeeze or squish out product from a flexible package to save space and prefer resealing products to regulate product consumption at their own pace. Take for example the popularity of M&M’s resealable pouches.
When enhancing convenience, manufacturers must consider the requirements of their supply channels in delivering products safely and reliably. Convenience trends, such as wine in cans, are driving changes in time-honored beverage packaging formats. Cans are more portable than glass bottles and enable consumption in smaller increments. They also lower shipping costs. It is important to recognize that whenever companies make format shifts, they need to consider potential unintended impacts such to product attributes like taste and flavor. For example, ensuring that wine can be opened up and aerated properly.
Convenience options are also driving changes in the nutraceuticals market which, as noted in PMMI's 2019 Nutraceuticals Market Assessment, is seeing the continued rise of CBD products. CBD oil and its non-psychoactive components are packaged most often in glass vials. Other trending formats for CBD products include gummy forms and pouches. Manufacturers are examining the different products and how best to deliver them in a cost-effective manner while maintaining branding.
Zacros: Meeting Demands for Greater Sustainability and Safer Drug Delivery
Kaylor Roberts, New Business Development Section, Packaging Sales Dept., Zacros
Sustainability is a major driver that is impacting our customers in the personal care, food and beverage markets. Zarcos’ Japanese customers in the personal care space show a preference for refillable pouches instead of rigid containers, as these are less expensive and viewed as more sustainable than hard plastic. Food and beverage customers in particular are feeling pressures from international bodies like the G20 and CARE International to make packaging more sustainable and to move away from multilayer films to single-layer films.
Some manufacturers have begun moving to biomass polyethylene films, but this requires pre-approval from a third-party organization that evaluates a company’s production facilities. These films are still under scrutiny as to whether they truly contribute to sustainability or not.
Zarcos provides single-layer films either through adhesion or extrusion, as well as double- and triple-layered films that blend various olefin films together and are recyclable. In places where trash is burned, for example in Japan, it's important to eliminate aluminum barrier layers because aluminum doesn't burn well. Laminating various olefin films together maintains necessary barrier properties while simplifying the burning process.
Meanwhile, pharmaceutical manufacturers prioritize packaging/container quality and consistency over eco-friendliness. Guidelines issued by the USP concerning E&L (Extractables and leachables) are changing the game for using traditional flexible IV bags, which are made of PVC or polypropylene. Pharma manufacturers now need a more stable solution.
One solution is cyclic olefin polymer (COP) film. While cyclic olefin is difficult to cast and extrude, and it presents some operational challenges, it offers superb barrier properties. Zacros produces IV bags with this COP film for hospital and medical applications that provide barriers against light, moisture and oxygen, and have low-adsorbing and non-eluting properties.
We believe this IV bag will be a game-changer for the industry. We appropriately dubbed the COP layer as "non-interacting" (NI) film due to its exceptional non-adsorbing properties for pre-mixed solutions. It prevents extractables and leachables, both from entering and exiting, so it eliminates the threat of contamination with the effectiveness of glass but with the shatter-proof format of a pouch.
A Global Perspective at an East Coast Event
At PACK EXPO East 2020, approximately 7,000 attendees will be able to explore the latest packaging equipment and processing technologies from approximately 400 exhibitors across 100,000 net square feet of exhibit space. Attendees and exhibitors will have quality time to review new trends and technologies, and attendees can also take advantage of free educational sessions. These include the Innovation Stage, a set of 30-minute presentations on industry breakthroughs, as well as The Forum, a set of 45-minute interactive seminars that include small group discussions and Q&A sessions each day of the show. Seminar topics will include hiring and retaining your workforce in today's economy, implementing asset reliability, and identifying cost-effective applications for robotics.
Registration for the event is $30 until February 7; after February 7 registration is $100. For more information and to register online, visit packexpoeast.com.
PMMI, The Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies, represents more than 900 North American manufacturers and suppliers of equipment, components and materials as well as providers of related equipment and services to the packaging and processing industry. We work to advance a variety of industries by connecting consumer goods companies with manufacturing solutions through the world-class PACK EXPO portfolio of trade shows, leading trade media and a wide range of resources to empower our members. The PACK EXPO trade shows unite the world of packaging and processing to advance the industries they serve: PACK EXPO International, PACK EXPO Las Vegas, Healthcare Packaging EXPO, PACK EXPO East, EXPO PACK México, EXPO PACK Guadalajara and ProFood Tech. PMMI Media Group connects manufacturers to the latest solutions, trends and innovations in packaging and processing year-round through brands including Packaging World, Automation World, Healthcare Packaging, Contract Packaging, ProFood World, Mundo PMMI and OEM. PMMI Business Drivers assist members in pursuing operational excellence through workforce development initiatives, deliver actionable business intelligence on economic, market and industry trends to support members' growth strategies and actively connect the supply chain throughout the year. Learn more at pmmi.org and packexpo.com and pmmimediagroup.com.