Making Packaging Do More for the Environment: Trends to Watch for in Food and Beverage Packaging

Making Packaging Do More for the Environment: Trends to Watch for in Food and Beverage Packaging

By Elisabeth Comere

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Thursday, June 1, 2017 - 12:30pm


The food and beverage industry is evolving rapidly, as are available packaging options. Innovation and adaptation have become a top priority as companies strive to provide greater product value and meet consumers’ evolving demands for packaging that is convenient to use, fit for purpose, and environmentally friendly. Some of the expected packaging trends and innovation we can expect to see in 2017 are described below.

Adjusting to New Distribution Channels with the E-Commerce Revolution
The growth of e-commerce is a trend with substantial implications for packaging. Analysts expect online grocery sales to increase 21% annually through 2018. While receiving products by mail can be convenient for consumers, it presents many challenges with respect to packaging – both primary and secondary. Products delivered through the e-commerce distribution channel have many more touch points, therefore more opportunities for packaging failure, particularly if co-packed with sharp, heavy, or oddly shaped items. E-commerce vendors and brand owners strive to protect products and their company’s reputation by ensuring that products and packaging arrive unscathed. Packaging used in e-commerce distribution chains may also be less rigid to better withstand the bumps and vibrations of the journey. Closures may be re-designed to better withstand these pressures. Items purchased online have a much higher return rate – subjecting the product and package to additional risk. Therefore, while packaging sold through e-commerce need not have some qualities necessary at the retail level (e.g., large to enhance visibility, stackable, visual shelf appeal and anti-theft features), it needs to be as small and light as possible, optimizing the product-to-package ratio without losing product protective features. Packaging still needs to be visually appealing and reinforce brand attributes and consumer trust, but it becomes less important for conveying product information, as consumers often turn to online resources.

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Elisabeth Comere is the Director of Environment & Government Affairs at Tetra Pak. Working out of the United States since 2010, Elisabeth is responsible for advancing Tetra Pak's commitment to sustainability in both the U.S. and Canada and oversees numerous industry and customer packaging sustainability initiatives.