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Packaging must rise to the challenge of the consumer

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Packaging must rise to the challenge of the consumer

LINPAC Packaging's Ben Elkington has told packaging manufacturers they must acknowledge and respond to the ‘rise of the consumer’ and the growing trend of ethical consumerism if they are to remain competitive. Ben, Innovations Manager at LINPAC, was speaking at Thin Wall Packaging 2012, in Cologne, Germany, organised by Applied Market Information. It offered a forum for leading brand owners, retailers, packaging manufacturers, researchers, and suppliers to the industry to debate the latest developments and market trends in plastics retail packaging.

During his talk Packaging for the Consumer of Tomorrow, Ben said changing social demographics, emerging markets and new technology would all impact upon packaging design in the future. He said: “It is impossible to predict what the future looks like but we can identify trends which indicate possibilities and potential. The growth of emerging markets – the E7 countries of China, India, Brazil, Mexico, Russia, Indonesia and Turkey; the increase in middle class consumers particularly in Asia but declining disposable income in western economies; an ageing population and an increase in smartphone ownership and mobile broadband, will all have a role to play in what consumers look for in the grocery store and how they go about their shopping. “The rise of the consumer should not be ignored.

We are facing some very savvy shoppers who are demanding more from retailers and manufacturers. They want convenience, high quality products and service and are thinking ‘green’. Increasingly, shoppers are adapting to new technologies and browsing, shopping and interacting with brands while on the move.” Ben gave some examples of the effect on pack designs: Ageing population would lead to a need for larger fonts, improved ease of access and smaller meal portions; Recession hit convenience shoppers will look for re-sealable packs to reduce food waste and offer better value for money; The spread of wealth, or reduction of, will lead to more ‘tiering’ of product ranges, putting ‘good’, ‘better’, ‘best’ labelling into practice. Pressure on resources will lead to a greater pressure on costs for raw materials but increase consumer demand for more sustainable, environmentally-friendly packs.

He also offered an insight into LINPAC Packaging’s Fresh Thinking philosophy and its ongoing programme of innovation which has led to a series of new product launches this year which address the issues discussed. Its Rfresh Elite tray for meat and fish is made from recycled materials and is fully recyclable at the end of the consumer cycle thanks to its novel sealant technology, making it lighter than its predecessors and reducing its carbon footprint. Also this year, the food packaging company teamed up with Addmaster to develop trays which contain antimicrobial additives to inhibit bacteria growth, preserving food for longer and reducing waste in the supply chain.

Split packs for meat, fish and vegetables, have become very popular among consumers at the supermarket and cater for the increasing number of single-person households. The packs help to keep food fresher for longer and minimise food waste – the Worldwatch Institute found that approximately 40% of the food currently produced worldwide is wasted before it is consumed. Ben added: “Consumers are demanding retailers produce more efficient packaging, both in terms of their weight and environmental impact; at LINPAC Packaging, we are leading the packaging industry in new developments which address these demands and more.” AMI's 7th international conference took place between December 3 and 5 at the Maritim Hotel in Cologne.

The event covered a wide range of topics including market trends and drivers, plastics packaging materials, production technology, new designs, lowering the environmental impact, sustainability, shelf-life and barrier properties, microwaveable, freezable, lightweight glass jar and metal can substitution, compostable plastics, and food safety. Applications of thin wall packaging range from dairy ice cream tubs and yogurt pots to ready meals, bakery trays and long-life jar and can replacements.

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