The pressure to reduce costs has had a big influence on food packaging over the last five years, but it could now be time to dust off ideas which offer differentiation and added value.
Dominic Cakebread, packaging consultant, Smithers Pira, told FoodProductionDaily.com the leading trend over the past few years has been lightweighting.
However, he believes companies should also start looking at more ideas that offer added value.
'We are on the cusp of change'
“The emphasis on lightweighting to save costs has become the focus of most research and development over the last few years,” he said.
“In food packaging that’s become manifest in flexible packaging growth, taking a share from rigid. Of course a lot of it is to do with cost reduction – or at least keeping the price the same when you’ve got pressure on margins.”
“Pouches are a good example, pouches taking over from rigid packs.”
But Cakebread predicts a shift towards more products driven by added value, believing “we are on the cusp of change.”
He will be one of the speakers exploring the ‘new age of packaging’ at the Pira Packaging Summit in London in November, with his session on ‘Packaging and materials: past, present and future.’
“What I’m looking at is the effects of what’s happened in the last five years – in terms of pressures on the packaging market, economic downturn, packaging becoming quite cost driven, and the position of the market today. I’ll look at where we are now – and the future direction.
“Packaging has been under a lot of pressure to reduce costs. The question going forward is - if consumption growth continues – to what extent the shift for innovation for cost reduction goes back to differentiation and added value.”
'Cost is never going to go away'
So is now the time to invest in research and development?
“Dig out some of the products you developed five years ago and went nowhere, and look at different markets and areas,” Cakebread said.
“I think it’s quite likely if there’s less pressure on the margin, there’s more potential for innovations that are initially a bit more expensive, a bit more bespoke. Cost is never going to go away, it’s always going to be a key part.
“[But] I think will be less pressure on, and it may create more opportunity for technologies that have been held back.”
The Pira Packaging Summit will take place in London on November 11-12. The conference will focus on a ‘new world order of packaging’, and how to prepare for it. The summit will explore digital printing, QR coding and tracking and other technologies.