16 June 2023

The Big Question: Where Will The Packaging Sector Go Next

Packaging, the beauty of packaging

Why is the packaging sector like it is today? What will it look like in the future? Why do we still have single use plastic circulating when we know it’s bad for the environment? Why do some companies try harder than others to implement the needs of their customers? 

The fashions of packaging are changing – with moves increasingly leaning towards sustainability and digitization, (for example the connected packaging market is expected to grow from 2020 to 2027 by 7.4% creating $31.94 billion in 2027). Businesses have to find themselves a way to maintain their cost effectiveness while increasing their response to consumer demands. Since the early 2000’s Asia – especially China – has held the monopoly on packaging manufacturing. Flexible packaging has also become not only popular but a staple for most companies. The move towards packaging that lowers costs in all areas of the packaging process is not just a savvy business move, due to the 2008 financial crash it was a very necessary one to make – not only does it keep costs down for companies it also keeps costs down for customers. A lot of the changes seen in the packaging industry are due to material issues, (such as the plastic packaging tax which puts pressure on companies to limit their international exports and imports of packaging).

Fashions are based around socio-economic and political factors. So the packaging trends that come and go are not just because they look pretty. They are because of issues that start on a global level and trickle down to the consumer level – everything is impacted and packaging is no different. There have been three main eras of change within the packaging sector, starting with substrate shift changes in 2000 to sustainability reforms and shifts in 2020. Substrate shifts were impacted by changing demographics, markets and world events – this meant that companies had to make changes that reflected this. In 2010 to 2020 there was a changing face of consumers, convenience shopping became important and the pandemic shifted consumer mentality to a more sustainable frame of mind. This led to the 2020 transformation of sustainability and digitization which we are still seeing as connected packaging, the Internet of Things and plastic become important elements of a business’ packaging strategy. What are the trends coming out of this? Plant based packaging, ethical production and recyclable/returnable containers.

International issues from conflicts to economic shifts, consumer pressures, natural disasters and corporate deals make a difference to packaging as a sector. The materials, the labor, the prices, the shipping…all of it is impacted by the slightest change. And as processes become increasingly automated, as consumers have more and more access to information which before they didn’t – then packaging becomes a growing question of what the sector can do to make the world better, easier and more sustainable for consumers. The power of the consumer should not be sniffed at, as it is consumer drive which has been creating reforms such as more watchdog action on companies not adhering to sustainable principles, and questioning the advanced capabilities of connected packaging. In the end it is consumers who will make the decision on whether a brand’s new idea sinks or swims in the real world.

While technology and markets continue to change, the role of the packaging industry will forever remain the same. However, as with all areas of business eventually find, the face of it will alter to accommodate not only what consumers want, but also what businesses want to offer in terms of increased capabilities and products. Where will packaging go next? It’s going to be interesting to find out.


Take your packaging into the future. Get help with your packaging project today by contacting with the BPAK team.