When the packaging is the product

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It has been a long time now since wrappers and packages were simply viewed as containers to enable products to be transported, protected or identified. Indeed, they are now part of the product and its image and in many cases, they “are” the product. It could be put another way: the package adds value to the product and serves to underline some of its attributes (warmth, proximity, comfort…). It is easy to think of food products, beauty and perfumery products or even technology where the package is an essential aspect of the product.

The packaging industry worldwide has grown by 3% every year since 2013, and will reach 820 billion dollars in 2016, according to a study by the British consultancy Smithers Pira. Besides this increase, the sector is also changing at a startling speed, so the ability to stay abreast of the latest innovations in materials and machinery, and to anticipate the demands of the final consumer are vital for business.

New tendencies

To coincide with Hispack, which was held last April together with the Food Fair, Barcelona Tecnologías de la Alimentación, Bta, we are going to look at the latest trends.

hispack_3Hispack inaugurated its TrendPack Área, a new space to showcase innovation in packaging and a place where those responsible for business, production, packaging, marketing and R+D for companies in the industrial and mass market sectors could make contact with the suppliers of packaging materials and applications that offer great added value to distinguish their product.

Green packaging. This is a line defined by the increasing use of materials from renewable sources, for recycling and biodegradable. The packaging industry is also introducing global formulas for sustainability to save raw materials and energy in the manufacturing processes, to reduce the weight of packaging, and to recycle and reuse it.

Intelligent and active. The intelligence behind the packaging is diverse: bottles that change colour to indicate the temperature of the content, bags that keep the salad fresh longer, or packages that warn that the meat has spoiled. Research advances constantly, and soon we will see blister packs that remember when the last tablet was taken and packages that whistle when the food is heated to its optimum point.

This category also includes packaging with new functions, using technological applications (RFID, NFC, QR/Bidi codes, etc.), which guarantee the traceability of the supply chain, reinforcing safety and protection from fraud.

Easy and quick. Individual packs for use in microwaves, salad kits and self-heating drinks. They are easy and quick to consume, with hardly any preparation, and this is what the consumer is demanding. There are also accessible packs that are easy to open and adapted to every sector of the population, such as the elderly, a group that is growing in importance in the market.
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Personalization. The different consumer profiles (people who live alone, couples, families, etc.) require packaging that is adapted to their needs. For this reason, the manufacturers of packaging equipment have been working to optimise and adapt production to the use of different sizes and designs in packaging. There is also a growing trend to making messages more personal. Heineken, Coca-Cola and Nutella, among others, have tried this with good results. Consumers like to see their names or those of their friends on the can or glass, and to give exclusive bottles as presents, with the extra cost of the initiative compensated by the link forged between the client and the brand.

Loyalty. The pack is being seen more and more as a platform that attracts the consumer to the brand: its web page, extra information, videos, promotions, games, etc. A valuable opportunity to create brand loyalty by taking advantage of new technologies and using the package as advertising space.