In May, we arrived in Düsseldorf, Germany for Interpack 2017 along with 170,500 other attendees. The world’s largest and most important trade fair of the packaging sector, Greiner Packaging was presenting its diverse range of innovative products for the first time in nine years and, as usual, it did not disappoint.
It’s always inspiring to be among so many passionate attendees and exhibitors. We certainly learned a great deal — and affirmed our assumptions — about what we can expect to occur across our industry in the approaching future.
Anticipate the digitalization of production processes.
We are living in an increasingly digital world and the packaging industry will reflect that. The digitalization of packaging production processes will make it possible to produce personalized packaging more efficiently as printing embraces more cloud-based capabilities. With enhanced data analysis, size and materials will be precisely calculated to reduce downtime and increase production capacity. And, because everything lives on the cloud, designers, managers, and manufactures will be empowered to cooperate with one another virtually while data is stored and accessible for future projects.
Even more exciting? Expect to see virtual reality taking the stage in production processes in the coming months to ease the unpredictability of production outcomes. By allowing the opportunity to anticipate outcomes before they happen in a “virtual” world, engineers will be able to design better products while ultimately saving both time and money. Additionally, production managers will have the ability to simulate the production environment to identify potential bottlenecks, maximize efficiencies and even train staff on potentially dangerous equipment well before the production process begins.
Those that have “gone green” will have to go greener.
The earth conscious consumer has long had sustainability top of mind, demanding eco-friendly packaging or reduced waste. As 42% of North American consumers are willing to pay more for products and services provided by companies committed to a positive social and environmental impact, manufacturers have no choice but to take notice. Expect to see even more innovation in sustainability over the coming months as manufactures turn their focus to improving resource efficiency by reducing the amount of packaging used, especially through a decrease in the thickness of packaging walls.
Millennials will become even more relevant.
With more than $200 billion in purchasing power in North America alone, Millennials are a worthy and hotly contested global audience group. Notoriously “connected” (the average Millennial owns up to eleven devices with an internet connection) manufacturers will increasingly identify ways to appeal to and engage with this segment. Look for smaller, indestructible and functional packaging units that appeal to these active, on-the-go consumers, as well as “smart packaging” characteristics that encompass all of the senses — including being voice activated or fragranced. Special marketing features that encourage consumer interaction such as QR codes that lead to contest or recipe information, will likely become more common. However, in order to meet these abruptly changing demands, manufacturers will need to be nimble enough to produce packaging quickly and with the lowest defect rates possible.
The reduction of food waste is a priority.
Officially launched at Interpack in 2011, SAVE FOOD, a global initiative to eliminate food loss and waste, held the SAVE FOOD congress at this year’s Interpack. Speakers from political circles, the food and packaging industries, retail, research and civil society, came together to share and discuss best practices for a multi-dimensional approach for fighting food loss. Topics included the challenges of global nutrition in the 21st century and the root causes of the loss of basic foodstuffs in India, as well as concrete, practical solutions to address these growing problems.
How will all these trends play out over the next few years? Only time will tell, but we’re excited to see where they will take our industry. Keep checking back to the Greiner Packaging Blog often to stay informed on these need-to-know topics.