Packaging Trends in 2016

Packaging is evolving, not only because of changing design styles, but also due to important functional and social changes. Convenience for "on-the-go" drinking and eating habits is paramount. Environmental consciousness is not only a “recyclable” sign at the bottom of the package – it is a standard expectation among consumers. Packaging also has to be re-examined for its digital performance – the way it looks in an online store, where the front, 2D face is the only resource to make the product stand out. And see-through packaging has proven an effective method to convey product attributes such as freshness, nutritious ingredients and home-style look, in high demand by consumers. With the utilization of transparent windows applied via window patchers, this can be achieved. Let's explore this.

On-The-Go Packaging

As technology evolves, the consumer expects packaging to be much more functional: self-opening, self-closing, self-sealing, self-cleaning, self-dosing, self-regulating, self-heating, etc. Consumers are demanding their products’ packaging fulfill their personal and social needs. Packaging can no longer simply transport food. Convenience is a major selling point for food and beverage packaging. Features such as ease of opening, resealability, portability, lighter weight, and no-mess dispensing are packaging benefits that influence consumers’ purchasing decisions positively.

As more people eat and drink on the go—at school, work, the gym and in transit—consumers want, first and foremost, packaging that is easy to hold, open, use and reseal. For beverages, “musts” are openings that produce a smooth and even stream to facilitate the increasingly common practice of drinking while walking, and closures that seal tightly to prevent spillage.

A secondary but increasingly important consideration for on-the-go packaging is style. As ‘On-the-go’ products often are enjoyed in front of colleagues/ friends or on the bus, the design is even more important in order for them to become lifestyle products. Design details that tell the story of a home-cooked meal and personalized experiences are often portrayed. The product name and package format may tell the story of ‘on-the-go’, while the graphic design supports the aspiration to be more than the usual food or drink, a lifestyle product with beauty in mind.

The Ever Shrinking Package

Smaller packages are a big trend in packaging: With one- or two-person households representing 61% of all U.S. households, packages sized to serve one or two people have become a big trend in packaging. Such formats include single-serve packaging, meals for two, multi packs of individual portions, and resealable packaging.

As one- to two-person size is the average in most households today, food and beverage packaging must offer a range of sizes while still being sturdy, compact and lightweight.

Packaging that is appropriately sized, and easy to grip and hold, open and close, is the difference between frustration and a return customer. Additionally, packaging aimed at seniors should be mindful of aging eyes, with larger print and clear and intuitive markings indicating openings.

Novel Features in Packaging

The major technical trends surveyed are varied:

  • Cooking in the packaging (system of appropriate valves)
  • Clean materials (less additives, vegetable solvent-free inks)
  • Intelligent packaging (traceability, inviolability of products, etc.) with RFID chips
  • Outer labels with micro-organisms
  • Electronic temperature markers
  • Active packaging (action on the product producing cold or heat to improve preservation including vacuum packing, deep-freezing and freezing, modified atmosphere, etc.)
  • Food films for products with a high fat content, isotherm and cooling packaging in PU (polyurethane)
  • Aluminized resin (insulated inflatable wrapping sometimes with a cold diffuser, air liner model).
  • Microwavable packaging
  • Bag-in-box (preventing oxidation or pollution of liquid content)
  • Organic packaging (corn and potato starch) and adhesives (starch)
  • Insect-repellent food packaging (releasing a active principle that repels the insect but is harmless to man)
  • Paper bags with perforated lining to keep sandwiches warm and crisp

The New Package Recycling Imperatives in 2016

Millennials view brands packaged in a carton as healthier, fresher and easier to store and recycle. Consumers want to know this packaging is good for me, my family, my community and the world.

In Europe, cardboard remains the leader in packaging purchasing (33%) ahead of plastics (30%). Corrugated cardboard represents 3 million tons for a turnover of €3 billion. Made from natural materials (cellulose fiber or starch) where the supply is renewable, corrugated cardboard has a very good carbon footprint and image with consumers. 90% of corrugated cardboard production comes from recycling, consolidated with each rotation by adding 10% virgin matter (cellulose pulp). All sectors included, it is the most widely used packaging material for transport in the world.

Paper comes in diverse forms with diverse treatments (parchment, silicon-parchment, Kraft parchment, calendared, waxed, grease proof, heat-sealable, etc.). Cardboard and paper are the most recycled materials, with a rate much higher than the objectives set by European directives.

We will continue to see the convergence of plastic and paperboard as well as the convergence of many other materials once thought to be incongruent. This allows food to be preserved longer and for multiple pieces of a package to be independently recycled.

From 3D to 2D - Think Packaging for the Screen

What is effective in the supermarket aisles may well be too subtle or simply too small to jump out from the smartphone of a Millennial placing a grocery pick-up order during her bus ride to work. Packages that have “billboarding” potential are a great canvas for eye-catching graphics and bold colors that characterize modern campaigns.

See-Through Packaging

See-through packaging can boost sales: more and more marketers are putting their products in packages that are see-through or have see-through windows. Transparency in packaging taps into consumer desire for transparency about how food and beverages are produced, both figuratively and literally. Companies that are transparent about their ingredients, sourcing, and business practices are reaping the benefits in consumer goodwill and trust.

Nearly one third of shoppers (30%) gauge how fresh a product is by its appearance, rather than its use-by date. Clear packaging can help increase shoppers’ initial perception of food freshness and demonstrates that what you see is what you get. Transparent packaging, combined with simple product labels, may be the winning combination in terms of appealing to health conscious, quality-seeking shoppers.

Transparent packaging, though, is hard to make. Companies review even small packaging changes because they can be expensive. Packaging also greatly affect how long food stays fresh. Light degrades many foods, making clear wrappers especially difficult to use. But when accomplished, it can boost sales. Like transparently wrapped granola bars made by General Mills. Without any recipe change, the see-through packaging was able to boost sales. Consumers even perceived that the bars looked like they tasted better, felt less artificial and the ingredients seemed fresher, she says. Clear packaging gives products an aura of being natural, something that more shoppers are seeking.

Foods like oatmeal don't look good in transparent packaging because they get dusty. When considering clear packages, companies need to ensure food looks good even after it endures a long trip from the factory and is roughly handled at destination. One of the brands that did this is Quaker, who put a small clear window on its new Warm & Crunchy granola to show off the granola, fruit and nut mixes. In order to protect the product, clear plastic films must be tested to ensure they keep product fresh for several months on shelves.

Consumers want to be sure about products they buy. Transparent ackaging helps them see and feel the quality of a product, reinforcing the purchase decision. More than half of shoppers (54%) agree it’s important to see a product through its packaging, according to Mintel’s Food Packaging Trends 2014 report. Many manufacturers have taken note, and adjusted their packaging accordingly, using clear film, product windows, or even edible packaging.

Interestingly, older consumers have less trust to the description of the product on the pack (almost 50% of the consumers age 55+ would like to see the product through the pack vs less than 20% of the consumers age 25-34) and really value an ability to see the product for themselves. Therefore, the importance of the function of windows and clear films increases with the consumers’ age.

There is also a trend in products with premium positioning that have a window on the pack to demonstrate the their high quality.

Dairy processors are using clear packaging that shows off every swirl, chunk and color. Even lowly cottage cheese (considered the broccoli of dairy foods because of its healthy connotations) has gotten a beauty makeover with an innovative see-through container.

Transparent packaging is at the top of the wish list for food and beverage companies that sell their products in bottles or jars, particularly those wishing to convey attributes like freshness, close-to-homemade flavor and premium quality. Beech-Nut Nutrition Co., Amsterdam, N.Y., opted for maximum transparency when developing a package for its new 100% Natural line of baby food.

A recent paper by Professors Xiaoyan Deng of Ohio State University’s Fisher College of Business and Raji Srinivasan of McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas in Austin, appears in the July 2013 issue of the American Marketing Association’s Journal of Marketing. The study placed experimental subjects in a common snacking environment: in front of the television (where 70 percent of all snacks are consumed). Researchers told the subjects that they would be evaluating advertisements that ran during episodes of the popular sitcom “The Office.” Participants were provided with snack foods including nuts, cookies, M&Ms, Cheerios and Froot Loops to munch on while they watched TV. Some foods were offered in transparent bags, while others in opaque bags.

They found that transparent packaging has two opposing effects on food consumption: it enhances food salience, which increases consumption (salience effect), and it facilitates consumption monitoring, which decreases consumption (monitoring effect). They argue that the net effect of transparent packaging on food consumption is moderated by food characteristics (e.g., unit size, appearance). For small, visually attractive foods, the monitoring effect is low, so the salience effect dominates, and people eat more from a transparent package than from an opaque package. For large foods, the monitoring effect dominates the salience effect, decreasing consumption.

Heiber + Schröder window patchers are able to apply see-thorough windows between 2 1/8” and 35” 7/16” long and between 1 3/16” and 48 13/16” wide. These can be positioned in several ways, even crossing folding lines. Heiber + Schröder tray formers are also among the most versatile in the market. Contact us to learn how they can help you solve your paper converting needs to achieve an outstanding packaging.

Folding box with normal window

Folding box with liner

Window cut from pre-printed
reel with register mark control

Blank to blank application
(up to DINA3 size paper
 form 60 to 200 g/m2)

Window with lengthwise

Pre-formed tube with cross seal tube material coming from the reel, cross sealing made on the window patcher

Shape cut window
coming from the pile

Folding box with handle, applied
in cross direction or at angles
up to 45° to the lateral axis.

Window with intermittent cut

Window with shape perforation
or shape cut

Folding box with tear tape

Reinforcing elements and collars

Window with preheated
creasing lengthwise and
shaped die cut

inner tube

Insertion of coupons