The US packaging industry is expected to grow from 587.9 billion units in 2018 to 623.5 billion units by 2023. This fall specifically is an interesting time of year for packaging trend forecasting. The trends happening now, cement the major product packaging trends for the rest of the year. It also provides insight into what we’ll be seeing more of in the years to come.

This season the major trends shaping the industry are influenced by the rise of e-commerce and concerns about climate change. “Trends” might not be the most accurate word for shifts we’re season right now in sustainable packaging and packaging design. Most reports point to the fact that these “trends” aren’t one-off, one-time demands in packaging solutions. The trends happening now are actually small shifts towards larger consumer changes that will continue over the next decade. 

Here are the six packaging trends you’ll see this fall.

 

Aluminum to Replace Plastic Cups

Aluminum cans are synonymous with the beer industry. So it makes sense that to replace the use of plastic in the food and beverage industry, that an aluminum alternative to the classic Solo cup would emerge.

Entertainment venues and other concessioners will start using aluminum instead of plastic cups as early as September 2019. The Ball Corporation, the company behind the new products, will continue to roll out their products nationwide throughout 2020.

According to research conducted by the Ball Corporation, 78 percent of consumers will expect all brands to use environmentally-friendly packaging within the next five years. 

Over the past few years we’ve seen other beverage companies besides beer, like wine and sparkling water, turn to aluminum cans. Cans can be a more durable and customizable option to plastic. According to one recent report, 61 percent of new beverage companies in 2018 choose cans over glass or plastic.

 

A Push Towards More Sustainable Packaging Materials

The move towards more sustainable packaging materials will continue through 2019, and far beyond. Consumer demand for more environmentally conscious options in only expected to rise.

In response, all industries will continue to experiment and innovate. Not only to serve customers, to gain a competitive edge.

The basic solutions we’ve been using aren’t going to be enough anymore. Now, we need materials that go beyond recycled and recyclable.

Since China stopped importing and recycling America’s waste, there has been a shift in packaging trends. Now consumers need products that are completely biodegradable, in the event that recycling isn’t an option. The packaging of the future needs to be able to be thrown out, and able to completely decompose, without causing harm.

Expect to see new fiber-based materials and bioplastics become more popular. Hybrid packaging solutions will be popular for brands seeking more affordable sustainable options.

 

The Instagram Effect in Packaging Design

Does your packaging pass the Instagram test? Is it something people want to share? Having a product that “looks cool” can go viral. It can create a level of necessity that drives sales unlike anything else. Creating an “experience” has become essential for businesses who want to stand-out. But experience isn’t only for retail. Experiences can be achieved through product packaging.

But it’s not all in vein. There are over one billion Instagram users. Over 60 percent of those users use the social network to discover and buy new products. The beauty industry has been a pioneer for capitalizing on the Instagram effect.

Beauty brands have mastered creating beautiful customized packaging. The beauty industry revolutionized influencer marketing by sharing the “unveiling” of products. This type of marketing generates unparalleled “hype” and an experience that taps into the consumer’s desire for status.

But other industries are catching on, and starting to put in place similar strategies. We’re starting to see “out there” packaging design in the food and beverage industry, specifically in alcohol and spirits. For example, Outerspace Vodka launched an alien head bottle design that pushes for user-generated content.

 

Anti-Plastic Packaging Solutions

Companies will continue to make an effort to shake themselves free of plastic this fall. One way you’ll see them doing this, is through the use of  PET, or Polyethylene Terephthalate as a plastic alternative. PET is a material that can be shaped and used in place of bottles and other products, and it doesn’t contain as many harmful chemicals. Some beer companies are implementing the use of PET, as a replacement to glass bottles.

Plastic straws will continue to get cut. Over the summer, Starbucks announced that it will replace straws with “sippy cups” in 2020. You can expect to see other food and beverage leaders make similar strides soon. Bisphenol A (BPA) bans will continue to happen across the country. In August, Illinois Governor JB Pritzker banned the use of receipts containing BPA. It’s only the most recent state put in place some kind of BPA restrictions.

 

A Continued Focus on Reducing Packaging Waste

There is an effort across all industries to cut the amount of packaging waste dumped into landfills. Earlier this year, Walmart announced an initiative to achieve 100 percent recyclable, reusable or compostable packaging for its private brands by 2025. Other major corporations like Coca-Cola and P&G have also announced waste reduction plans.

The food and beverage industry has become especially sensitive about decreasing waste. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), containers and packaging contribute over 23 percent of all landfill waste in America. Much of this waste consists of food-related containers and packaging.

As major corporations attempt to reach their waste reduction goals, the trend is likely to grow. We expect to see waste reduction initiatives especially promoted during the holiday season.

 

A Push for more Light Weighting

Most of the leading trends this season focus on consumers, but this trend focuses on operations. “Light weighting” can reduce a company’s carbon footprint when it comes to shipping and logistics. But the biggest benefit comes from reducing supply chain costs.

Every business that’s trying to keep up with e-commerce demands is seeking a way to reduce costs. Most consumers would not even notice the loss of a few grams to their packaging. But a few grams multiplied by thousands can have a major impact on supply chain costs.

The problem is that most light-weighting options available right now, are not recyclable, reusable or compostable. So finding solutions that help both lower shipping costs and also adhere to consumer demands will be an ongoing concern.

 

How To Use These Product Packaging Trends

Implementing changes to packaging design has never been easier. There are so many options for sustainable packaging that can not only be more cost-effective for businesses but can give brands a competitive edge.

If your product packaging needs to be brought into the modern age and pique the interest of Gen Z and Millenials, design options are endless if you choose the right company.

“Imagine it… Done!” That’s our motto and the mindset we bring to every project. We’re global leaders in custom packaging solutions. We can deliver whatever packaging trends you want to implement into your business.

We’ve been engineering innovative packaging solutions for clients in the industrial, retail, moving and storage industries for over 35 years. We partner with our clients to create cutting-edge packaging that reflects the quality of their business.

 

Interested in our packaging solutions? Contact us today!