> Innovations in Rigid Plastic Packaging for 2017 - The Food Safety Company Innovations in Rigid Plastic Packaging for 2017 - The Food Safety Company
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    Wednesday, 25 January 2017

    Innovations in Rigid Plastic Packaging for 2017

    Img: Packworld 
    When it comes to packaging, one of the most universal and ubiquitous substances used is plastic. Rigid plastic segmented into accommodating shapes to be exact. The global rigid plastics sector, valued at £144.7 billion, dominates the packaging market, making up 20.8% according to Packaging News. That figure is expected to jump to 22.7% over the next five years, placing market value at £181.5 billion in 2020. Worldwide authority on the packaging, paper and print industry, Smithers Pira, released an exact and comprehensive market report in which the future of the packaging is broken down. Called The Future of Global Rigid Plastic Packaging to 2020, the report predicts that the volume demand for rigid plastics will increase by about 10 million tonnes, going from 51.7 million in 2017 to 61.3 million in 2020. The UK alone commands 3.3% of the total volume. A large majority of that demand is for PET and PE plastics.

    Plastic has effectively stomped out less-adaptable packaging, namely glass bottles/jars, liquid cartons, and metal cans. This is because the rigid plastic packaging industry is fuelled by superior material which is more lightweight, less costly, and recyclable. Its most attractive quality, however, is its ability to be designed.

    Img: PackagingBR
    Linpac, a packaging provider who offers customised packaging solutions, just recently developed specialised sushi containers for Spanish retailer Mercadona. The range of trays – single and double portion and family-sized packs – feature a laminated PET printed film base and a clear anti-fog PET lid. Not only are the trays appropriately sized to snugly fit the contents, Linpac has gone for a “total pack solution” by designing internal areas in which to store wooden chopsticks and condiments. Linpac product manager Diego Fernandez commented on the efficiency, saying “The resulting food-safe solution completely eliminates the need for additional packaging.”

    Another Linpac employee, group marketing manager Nikki Clark, praised the new design: “In this case, the design has been streamlined to make it fit for purpose and removes the need for additional materials. It’s a truly resource-efficient, total pack solution.”

    Benjamin Punchard, global packaging insights director at Mintel, asserts that the food sector requires newness and variation above all others. This is because the food industry is continually creating new products. Grocery shelves become over-crowded with beautiful or informative or dated packaging, created with the sole purpose of vying for the attention of shoppers in the aisles. As more and more market research is conducted on how customers perceive a brand based on packaging, we are learning that packaging plays a big role in brand interpretation. For customers, to know a brand is to know its packaging. A clean presentation that minimises waste can speak volumes about a company’s values; The Drum says it best: “In many cases the pack is the sole form of brand communication (i.e. it may not have any marketing or advertising support) so it’s crucial to the customer experience of the brand.”

    Flashy packaging capitalises on the passing-by shopper by immediately grabbing attention. However, flashy does not mean compromising on functionality and utility. Simply put, a pack of quality design should be aesthetically-appealing, practical, and clearly made for the product. “Food brands are putting their innovation into the product itself; but they’re also looking to put something different on the shelf and being able to communicate a story to consumers,” says Greiner Packaging’s sales director for UK and Ireland, Barry Atkinson.

    As the public becomes increasingly more aware of the impact of mass amounts of waste, people are demanding that food manufacturers become more economically aware. As such, weight reductions in packaging have become the norm as has the use of biodegradable or sustainably-sourced materials. Therefore, virgin polymer, new material not yet made into a finished product, is being used less frequently in the packaging sector, replaced instead by recycled plastics. Atkinson comments on the ever more environmentally-conscious customer, “Ultimately, our customer is the consumer, who in becoming increasingly aware of environmental issues, is demanding the kind of step-changes that brand owners are now having to initiate.”

    However well rigid plastic is projected to do in 2017, an eye must be ever-focused on the flexible packaging industry. 

    Jacqui Litvan

    Jacqui Litvan, wielding a bachelor's degree in English, strives to create a world of fantasy amidst the ever-changing landscape of military life. Attempting to become a writer, she fuels herself with coffee (working as a barista) and music (spending free time as a raver).
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