Mintel’s own packaging experts, David Luttenberger and Viktorija Gnatoka, attended PackExpo in Chicago last week. A key theme of the show was packaging’s role in decreasing global food waste. Highlights observed at the show include:

Victoria-image-circle Active and intelligent packaging. Presented by AIPIA (Active and Intelligent Packaging Industry Association) multiple presenters, including brand owners and packaging manufactures, spoke about the importance of active and intelligent packaging as a way to decrease global food waste, achieve longer shelf-life and improve supply chain transparency. Amy Childress from PakSense demonstrated smart wireless labels that monitor conditions throughout the supply chain and ensure product quality and safety. In the future, we will see increased pairing of smart labels with consumer goods packaging, with a focus on food safety, OTC and Rx compliance, product authentication and anti-counterfeiting.
• David Luttenberger participated in DuPont’s “Not Your Average Technology Talk” session, where he shared the latest packaging trends from our newest presentation titled “Unconventional Perspectives.” David discussed the importance of packaging in fighting global food waste, valued at nearly $1 trillion annually, as well as packaging’s role in ensuring product safety. While packaging today already plays a key role in combating food waste, the challenge is to educate consumers that packaging adds value, not waste, and that food is actually a greater contributor to the waste stream than packaging. David also spoke about packaging sustainability. He addressed the challenges retailers, brands, and packaging converters face as the push shifts from sustainability to the greater scope of environmental responsibility. The latter is not just about next-generation packaging materials but more about optimization of resources and design and exploiting existing infrastructures. Finally, David touched upon smart technologies in packaging that will add more functionality in the daily lives of the consumers and that will engage consumers at the point of sale, rather than simply entertain them.

david_luttenbergerThe push for functional packaging technologies that help preserve freshness and reduce food waste; the rapid progression of the shift from rigid to flexible packaging; the much-heralded introduction of multiple iterations of hybrid rigid and flexible containers, and the much-hyped next-generation decorating technologies such as digital printing, micro-thin, high-clarity PET pressure-sensitive labels, and precision-registered in-mold labels on embossed containers certainly were evident at PackExpo. But what captured my attention as a 25-year packaging industry veteran attending my 22nd PackExpo wasn’t so much what I saw, as I what I heard.

Packaging converters were overt in their attempt to engage CPGs in conversations that extend well beyond discussions about new containers, materials, or components. They were equally direct in chatting up the fact that they no longer want to be considered as suppliers, but rather as “solutions provider” partners. In doing so, these former links in the linear supply-chain system are tapping and exploiting consumer insights as a means to reach brand managers. Their goal is to come full circle as providers of value-added packaging solutions rather than as line items on procurement managers’ balance sheets.

The realization by both CPGs and converters that packaging solutions, fueled by consumer insights, can create emotional connections with consumers in ways that disruptive packaging innovations cannot, ties directly to the core message now being delivered to Mintel clients via the Packaging Roadshow. The fact global packaging converters took the lead to openly communicate this at PackExpo will support Mintel’s efforts, including those of the business development team, account managers, and the Global Packaging Team, to push packaging-focused insights and analysis to a wider audience of retailers, CPGs, converters and agencies.

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Viktorija Gnatoka is Global Packaging Analyst at Mintel where she is responsible for delivering packaging insights and actionable recommendations across multiple categories.

David Luttenberger has nearly 25 years of diverse packaging experience. As the Global Packaging Director at Mintel, he puts the business and innovations of packaging in context the consumer, brand, retail, designer and converter landscapes.

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