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December 13, 2017
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Ten global trends shaping packaging

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Staying on top of these trends will lead to both challenges and opportunities for supply chain executives, says one packaging consultant.

Ten emerging trends will impact the design and development of packaging in the supply chain worldwide, according to Brian Wagner, vice president of consulting services at Packaging Technology Integrated Solutions, a division of HAVI Global Solutions.

Speaking at the 2013 Material Handling and Logistics Conference sponsored by Dematic in Park City, Utah, in September, Wagner said that staying on top of the following trends will lead to both challenges and opportunities for supply chain executives:

Emerging markets. With 70 percent of world growth expected to come from emerging markets—and the total gross domestic product (GDP) of emerging markets predicted to overtake that of developed economies by 2014—companies will have to put more research and effort into optimizing package designs for non-Western countries.

Big science. Advances in scientific knowledge will lead to new substrates. Nanotechnology, for example, will allow packagers to simplify material, going from seven to possible two layers to achieve the same package functionality.

Demanding consumers. As consumers use technology like smart phones to stay better connected and exchange product information, item packaging will be forced to provide more details to potential buyers. Conductive inks will be used to print information that can be relayed via radio signal to a smart phone.

Environmental concerns. The continuing emphasis on sustainability is pushing companies to develop new substrates for packaging, such as bio-based material or alternatives to petroleum-based materials.

More legislative oversight. With more municipalities, states, and nations enacting their own packaging regulations, supply chains will face a complex web of rules covering everything from labeling to disposal. In addition, legislation calling for extended producer responsibility for waste will place more demands on warehouses in regard to material disposal.

Developments in neuroscience. As neuroscience gains better insight into personal behavior, packaging will begin to be targeted more precisely to consumers' needs.

A riskier world. Increasing product and safety risk puts greater pressure on packaging to ensure safe food, high-integrity materials, and tamper-proof goods.

New retail models. Because products ordered online vary in size and shape, Internet retailers will be challenged to find standard, common sizes for their shipment packages.

The rise of BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, and China) countries. As the middle class in these four countries grows, there will be more worldwide competition for the resources used to make packaging.

Innovative designs. Packagers will develop special designs whose look and shape will give a competitive advantage to their brands.

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