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Five global megatrends influencing sustainable fresh food packaging design

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Megatrends are driving industries into new territories including the retail and FMCG (fast moving consumer goods) sectors, impacting and influencing the daily lives of consumers. If you’re not sure what a megatrend is at this point, don’t worry, you’re not alone.

In brief, a megatrend is a driver of change that affects governments, economies and societies over a substantial period of time.  It results in a paradigm shift in how businesses operate and how we live within our environment and communities. Megatrends are complex and unique and can drive sub trends, which in turn affect financial markets by influencing growth in areas such as sales and innovation. For example, some megatrends such as urbanisation, transportation and technology have altered the global economy at an unprecedented pace of change.

In this blog, we take this complex subject back to basics to explore how sustainability driven by megatrends is driving the direction of the packaging world.

Demographic and social changes 

With a predicted addition of 2.2 billion people joining us on earth by 2050, the rate of human consumption is expected to double, which will be influenced by an increase in the middle-class, and associated disposable income, expected to increase nearly three-fold. The high-rate of population growth, combined with the requirement for even more resources is sure to take its toll on the already pinched food supply chain of the future. 

This, together with 24/7 lifestyles and changing lifestyle preferences from Millennials and Generation Z, alongside an ageing population, is putting the food and packaging industries to the ultimate test. By 2030, Millennials (aged 33-49) will make up over 75 per cent of the workforce. Therefore, Millennials will be an important and very influential group to target and, more importantly, meet their needs.

Resealability, easy-open, portion size, added-value and extended shelf life are all important features that packaging designers are including in their packaging innovation strategies to help meet these powerful demographic and social changes.

Rapid urbanisation

Another aspect, driven by the shifting demographic, is the rapid increase in urbanisation. By 2050, 70 per cent of people will live in cities. This move from rural to urban culture goes beyond a simple location. The modern phenomenon is swaying consumer attitudes towards brands and the way they like things done. Many consumers have become increasingly interested in brands that operate in a “responsible” and “ethical” manner in terms of food safety, fair treatment of workers and local sourcing of products, and are willing to pay premium price for it. Importantly, packaging solutions need to be convenient for busy workers, who are likely to use city ‘express’ style stores on their way home from work, again meeting their 24/7 food access needs.

Innovative packaging designs that help the consumer to buy and use food in ways that match their needs are the order of the day to address urbanisation. Our split pack for poultry, designed in collaboration with Tesco and Cargill, is a portion pack that helps to reduce food waste and offer the ultimate in convenience. 

Food supply chains

Consumers are demanding natural, locally sourced fresh food; a trend that links closely to health and environmental concerns. Fresh food however, is often associated with a shorter shelf life and in turn can result in food spoilage and waste. Innovations from packaging designers and manufacturers are incorporating ways to improve shelf-life, while maintaining freshness, clarity and pack functionality. 

Hectic lifestyles mean that consumers crave on-the-go fresh food and food-for-later options in an easily portable format that requires little or no preparation. This can present an issue for the food supply chain, especially as e-commerce grows in popularity, in maintaining quality and food safety standards. As a continent, Europe has an estimated two per cent of food waste lost in the supply chain, compared to a much higher figure of 35-50 per cent in developing countries. In addition, there is an increase in the movement of seasonal foods so that consumers can enjoy all food-types anytime of the year. Optimised lightweighting of packs enables more efficient fuel consumption in distribution, delivering a lower carbon footprint in overall transportation.

Developments in packaging have been an important driver in helping to dramatically reduce the proportion of fresh produce that is wasted in the supply chain. As a company, LINPAC concentrates on providing effective packaging solutions that enable efficient distribution around the globe, while protecting food safety, preserving and extending the shelf-life of the fresh food inside.  

Take our work with partner Infia, for example. Our “F” Concept Side Ventilation pack includes a unique ventilation system which reduces ethylene levels which slows down the ripening process, improving the shelf life of produce and soft fruit.

Another good example is our RfreshÒ Evolve vacuum skin pack which features a barrier skin film that whitens on peel, revealing whether a pack has been opened or not, as well as preventing leakage. The trays can be displayed both horizontally and vertically, reducing required shelf space for the retailer and offers up to 21-day shelf life for some red meat products.

Technology

Technical advancements and innovations in the packaging industry are at an all-time high. Superior product protection, lightweighting, recycled content, designing for recyclability, and shelf-appeal are top of the agenda for many manufacturers, including ourselves. We apply our knowledge and expertise of food and material science to packaging design to meet today’s supply chain and consumer needs, as well as those of tomorrow.

Our Lightweighting For Excellence (LIFE) programme has allowed us to develop our range of trays and films with a reduced carbon footprint. And our continual innovation has seen further developments of already lightweight products to improve their food protection performance. For example, our recently launched SKIN film series has been designed to enhance the shelf-appeal and performance of our Evolve tray. The result is a resource efficient, complete pack solution that delivers optimum performance.

Sustainability and the Environment

With consumption exceeding supply – and only expected to increase in the future- food and packaging industries must take a lead in creating a more sustainable society going forwards.

The food waste epidemic is a pressing issue that is at the top of the priority list for governments around the world. Despite food being more abundant than ever, one billion people out of the seven billion in the world are going hungry. A factor in this is that 30-40 per cent of food produced is never actually eaten.  We do not need to produce more food to feed the world population.  According to EUROSTAT data, 42 per cent of food waste in Europe occurs at household level, with over 60 per cent being avoidable.

At LINPAC, we work hard to design packaging that protects food and is backed by detailed knowledge of the supply chain, as well as material and food science. We use laboratory testing and food science to understand shelf life requirements.

Delivering sustainable innovation, while achieving resource efficiency and minimising environmental impact, is a key priority for our business. From maximising our use of recycled rPET, investing in super-cleaning technologies and development of LIFE pack designs, our ethos is to lead the way towards a circular economy.

In collaboration with industry organisations such as the EUPC, BPF, WRAP, Recoup and INCPEN, we are incorporating this lifecycle way of thinking into our current and future innovation projects. 

So, there you have it. The 5 global megatrends that no industry can ignore, not least the packaging industry. As a business, we aim to lead the way in addressing global megatrends to drive a sustainable future for packaging design and manufacture. For LINPAC, the future of packaging looks much greener, more resource efficient and more innovative than ever before! However, with megatrends to guide and shape our imaginations, we will always be on a continuous journey of change and improvement.

If you’d like to talk to us about how our sustainable packaging journey can benefit your business, please get in touch for more information. 

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