Assessing the State of the Flexible Packaging Industry in 2020
The flexible packaging segment of the packaging industry is undoubtedly complex, packed with substantial opportunities for growth and creativity, while also facing criticism from consumers regarding sustainability. In this report, veteran industry journalist Patrick Henry provides an in-depth overview of the state of the flexible packaging industry in 2020, with insight from printers and converters, industry advocates, and researchers.
Much like in recent years, the outlook on the growth of flexible packaging is largely positive, as brands and consumers are becoming increasingly appreciative of the benefits and advantages flexible packaging provides. For example, the convenience and portability attributes of flexible packaging are unique to the segment. With strong resealability factors to ensure freshness, and functionality elements that allow children to feed themselves from pouches, the format has allowed busy consumers and parents to take products on the go more easily. Additionally, as brands catch on to these consumer packaging trends, printers and converters report that they are asking them to creatively collaborate on strategies to transition more products to flexible packaging.
While flexible bags and pouches have provided enticing opportunities for brands to transition their products from rigid packaging to flexible, the report outlines another emerging opportunity for printers in this space. Shrink sleeves, particularly in the beverage market, are catching brand owners’ eyes for the variety of benefits they provide. Tom Staib, president of DWS Printing Associates, spoke with Packaging Impressions about his reasoning behind his company’s foray into the world of shrink sleeves and why they have been a highly successful branding element for the craft beer market.
What makes Staib’s entry into shrink sleeves particularly intriguing, is DWS’s usage of digital printing to produce them. While digital printing may still be in its relative infancy in the flexible packaging segment, this latest look at flexible packaging’s shift demonstrates how a variety of converters are making the most of the emerging technology. Nosco, a major supplier of pharmaceutical packaging and another producer of digitally-printed flexible packaging, shared in the report that it expects to see its digital flexible packaging output surpass its conventional.
Consumer Packaging Trends Drive Sustainability Efforts
While the outlook is largely positive in the flexible packaging sector, one area where it gets critiqued is in its sustainability attributes. There are several environmental advantages offered by flexible packaging, but recyclability is one element flexible packaging has struggled with. And because recycling is a visible, tangible act of eco-friendliness, it’s one that is top of mind for consumers.
In this state of the flexible packaging industry 2020 report, the latest efforts to improve the recyclability of flexible packaging are outlined, as well as the importance for the industry to promote its less visible sustainability advantages. For example, the light weight of flexible packaging allows it to cut down on fuel usage during shipping, and in some instances, flexible packaging production produces fewer greenhouse gas emissions than its rigid counterparts. However, because these sustainability advantages tend to occur out of sight from consumers, they tend to be less highly regarded as recycling. Getting the word out to the market about these advantages could be the catalyst in getting consumers more on board with flexible packaging, which will then entice brands to do the same.
All things considered however, the flexible packaging sector is unquestionably among the strongest in the packaging industry. For more on the state of the industry in 2020, be sure to check out the full report here.