The Packaging Trends You Can Expect To See In 2018

There are five major packaging trends you can expect to see as we move into the new year, according to Mintel, a major market research firm. You can expect to see more minimalistic designs, packages that keeps marine conservation in mind, reinvigorated packaging for e-commerce, and more!

According to David Luttenberger, Global Packaging Director at Mintel, “Our packaging trends for 2018 reflect the most current and forward-looking consumer attitudes, actions, and purchasing behaviors in both global and local markets. Such trends as those we see emerging in e-commerce packaging have stories that are just now being written. Others, such as the attack on plastics, are well into their first few chapters, but with no clear ending in sight. It is those backstories and future-forward implications that position Mintel’s 2018 Packaging Trends as essential to retailer, brand, and package converter strategies during the coming year and beyond.”  Below is a list of the major trends you can expect to see as we move into 2018.

Packaged Planet:  Consumers often feel packaging is unnecessary or simply creates more waste.  Brands are starting to educate their consumers that packaging can actually extend shelf life of food and provide efficient and safe access to essential products in developed and underserved regions of the world! There is now a focus on innovative packaging that extends the freshness of food, preserves ingredient fortification, and ensure safe delivery.

rEpackage: Consumers from around the world shop online for convenience.  As more shoppers embrace online sales you will see brands developing their packaging to enhance the experience of shopping from home.  This new trend will help to reflect the expectations their consumers have when it comes to how their goods arrive at their destinations.

Clean Label 2.0: No more lengthy descriptions! Today’s consumers are more informed than ever, but brands risk losing customers who they bog down with too much information.  The “essentialist” design principle bridges the divide between not enough and just enough of what’s essential for consumers to make an enlightened and confident purchasing decision without second guessing the company’s authenticity.

Sea Change: Consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the dangers associated with plastic packaging ending up in our oceans.  Concerns over safe packaging disposal will increase shopper’s perceptions of different packaging types and impact their purchasing decisions.  Consumers want to see brands working to create a circular economy to keep packaging materials in use. Only by communicating that a brand is working toward a reusable solution will consumers feel more confident in their purchases.

rEnavigate: Younger consumers are buying less processed and frozen foods.  They are instead opting for items purchased in the fresh or chilled aisles.  Brands are looking to reinvigorate their packaging to draw these consumers back into the center-of-store aisles.  The designs they’re using are now more contemporary, transparent, and recyclable.  They’re also opting for more uniquely shaped packages to draw the younger shoppers to check them out.

Following these five trends in 2018 will ensure your brand will be able to keep up with the growing needs of your consumers.

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Biodegradable, antimicrobial cling wrap packaging in the works

Singapore-based researches are in the process of developing a material comparable to plastic wrap that is biodegradable, anti-bacterial, and free from chemical additives. While they are still in the early stages of development, if everything pans out, this could be a promising development in the world of food packaging.

Due in part to an increasing consumer demand for environmentally-friendly packaging, researchers developed the new material–chitosan–by deriving it from the exoskeletons of shellfish, making it a natural and biodegradable polymer. In addition to its biodegradable benefits, the cling wrap is also non-toxic, and even naturally contains some antimicrobial and antifungal properties.chitosan-gfse-film-data.pngTo enhance the antibacterial properties of chitosan, the film was fortified with Grapefruit Seed Extract (GFSE), a natural antioxidant that “…possesses strong antiseptic, germicidal, antibacterial, fungicidal, and antiviral properties.” The team researched the combined effects by varying the amounts of GFSE present, and early testing found that average shelf life was increased by about two weeks as compared to standard plastic wrap.

If the project continues as the researchers hope, this could improve food safety, and consequently, reduce food waste. According to the World Resources Institute, nearly a quarter of all food calories produced is wasted. That being said, here’s to hoping their research ends with success!

Find out more about their research from their study, ‘Functional chitosan-based grapefruit seed extract composite films for applications in food packaging technology.’

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4 Unique Sustainable Packaging Options

1. Method’s ‘Ocean Plastic’ soap bottle

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Working alongside their recycling partner Envision Plastics, Method has created the first bottles made from ocean plastic. According to Method, “there are more than 100 million tons of garbage floating in the Pacific Ocean alone.” With the help of local volunteers, Method has collected over 1 ton of plastic from Hawaiian beaches. The bottles are then created from a blend of ocean and post-consumer recycled plastic.

2. Tetra Rex 100% renewable carton

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TetraPak is on a “mission to make a 100% renewable carton.” While getting to that goal isn’t easy, it seems they’ve finally managed to create “…the industry’s first carton made entirely from plant based, renewable packaging materials.” Any films and caps used to keep the product fresh are derived from sugar cane, while the body is also a plant-based paperboard. In early 2015, they’ll be giving their Tetra Rex package (currently made from 85% renewable materials) an upgrade, bringing the 100% renewable version to consumers.

3. The Alfred Cone (of Alfred Coffee & Kitchen in Los Angeles, CA)

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Instead of wasting resources on materials like foam and paper for your coffee cups, why not make your packaging edible? That’s what Alfred Coffee & Kitchen in Los Angeles has done with their “Alfred Cone,” Made by Zia Valentina at a local farmers market. The Alfred Cone is a 4oz waffle cone, with an interior chocolate lining (1. for flavor, and presumably 2. to keep it from leaking everywhere).

4. LifeBox

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Instead of recycling or throwing your packaging away, plant it! Made from post-consumer recycled cardboard, the LifeBox has seeds embedded throughout. Don’t worry–“The Tree Life Box™ only contains native and non-invasive species. It is only for sale within the continental U.S. and Canada because the tree seed mix consists of species that are native to the bioregions of the continental U.S. and Canada.” They’ve also been sure to obtain any necessary permits and licenses! Unfortunately, the LifeBox is only available for wholesale orders of at least 100 units.

Packaging Design Trends: Speculation for 2015

Design trends in 2014 brought us many places. We saw high contrast designs, we saw lots of whitespace. We saw watercolor, and we saw a stronger focus on sustainability. With the turn of the new year, we’ll see new trends enter the scene, as well as the evolution of some of the older ones. With this in mind, we’d like to share with you our speculation for where the design for packaging industry will be headed in 2015.

With the recent rise of sustainable products and packaging, we’ll be seeing an even greater focus on this sort of design in the coming year. Sustainability is more than a trend; with the state of the environment, there has been an increasing urgency to minimize our impact on the planet. The packaging industry is beginning to respond to this need with more and more eco-friendly options to present to consumers. It’s to be expected, then, that we’ll be seeing more of the hand-drawn fonts that go along with a naturalist feel (this goes for logos and illustrations too). Think clean designs, subtle textures, and flat, grounding colors to suit an over all naturalist feel.

Altaz CF6 Stylus

We’ve talked before about awesome packaging designs, ones that are unique for their aesthetics or functionality (or, both). Some of these have taken interesting design a step further, capitalizing on the element of functionality and usability. Shirt packages that transform into hangers, boxes that turn into pen holders…while this sort of packaging may not be at the forefront of 2015 trends, we suspect we’ll be seeing some interesting multi-use designs this year. Definitely something to keep an eye on.

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Another small but growing market is augmented reality packaging. With the ever-increasing integration of electronics in everyday life, it’s only fitting technology would be brought into even the disposable parts of our products (or, if you’re going for sustainability or functionality, maybe the not-so-disposable parts). Regardless of the opinions of naysayers, technology isn’t going anywhere. Period. With the rise of augmented reality products such as Google Glass, we’re seeing this now more than ever (even if at its infancy stage, augmented reality devices are very, very dorky looking). With a rumored consumer release in 2015, Google Glass will open new doors for augmented reality packaging. It may make you look like a huge nerd (I happen to disagree with this sentiment, but I digress), but regardless, even if augmented reality takes on a different form than headwear in the coming years, it will still be prevalent, and packaging designers that have not learned to work with the medium already will have to catch up.

Pantone

Lastly, we’ve got Pantone. Pantone knows color. They’re the ones who standardize it worldwide, making sure that the conversation between designers, printers, companies, and consumers is an easy one, where everyone is on the same page. Part of their job includes keeping tabs on (and setting) industry trends. They not only know a whole lot about color, but also have a big say in the evolution of design practices. Annually, they pick the Color of the Year. This isn’t just a blind bag selection; their industry expertise, from analysis of past trends to predictions about future ones, is what helps them determine what this color will be. This year, they’ve gone with Marsala, an earthy, wine red. Marsala creates a nice dichotomy (did you know colors can do that?): for a shade of red, it’s remarkably cool. It’s seductive, but grounding. Rich, but subtle. Marsala “…enriches our mind, body and soul, exuding confidence and stability.” Expect to see more of this color in the coming year.

GTS Packaging Solutions Product Spotlight: Paper Tubes

GTS Packaging Solutions is a full service design and packaging company. We work in the design and manufacturing of all sorts of packages: bags, pouches, tins, boxes, novelty items, and more. We also work in many different industries–we started out with tea (at our sister company, Global Tea Solutions), but have since expanded our reach into health and beauty, fundraising, pharmaceuticals, jewelry, and more.

One of our packaging specialties is our paper tubes. They come in all shapes and sizes, with a variety of fill styles, lids, and closures. Our materials are also eco-friendly and sustainable, made from 100% recyclable materials. They’re perfect for storing food (so of course come with available options of foil or spray on linings). Many of our canisters have a smooth, matte finish that has been very popular with clients in the past. Another common style is a kraft finish (cardboard). They are also label ready. Full color printing options are available for matte, kraft, or labeled finishes.

Two examples of our tubes:

This is our divider tube, good for packing two varieties of a product in one container. The middle base of the lid has a wall built in that extents to the floor of the piece.

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We also have mini tubes (the lid fits snugly over top of the base). Great for smaller portions, gift packs, and samplers.

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So what does a finished product look like?

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Sustainable Packaging

In the packagingrecycle-1323775-m industry, sustainability is an incredibly important practice. Sourcing materials responsibly, producing to reduce and reuse waste, and transporting goods by means of renewable energy can make a big difference to a company’s impact on the environment. Saving energy and resources can even save your company valuable time and money.

The Sustainable Packaging Coalition (SPC) is a major voice in the world of sustainability. Headed by GreenBlue (a nonprofit focused on product sustainability), the SPC aims “…to build packaging systems that encourage economic prosperity and a sustainable flow of materials.” They hold ongoing discussions on the many facets of environmental health, offer guidelines for renewable design, and educate developers and consumers on what resources and tools are available to them in order to contribute to a healthier world.

The SPC has played a large role in defining what exactly sustainable packaging even is–according to their page, “[the SPC’s Definition of Sustainable Packaging] has been widely adopted throughout the packaging industry.” This definition states that sustainable packaging:

  • Is beneficial, safe & healthy for individuals and communities throughout its life cycle
  • Meets market criteria for performance and cost
  • Is sourced, manufactured, transported, and recycled using renewable energy
  • Optimizes the use of renewable or recycled source materials
  • Is manufactured using clean production technologies and best practices
  • Is made from materials healthy throughout the life cycle
  • Is physically designed to optimize materials and energy
  • Is effectively recovered and utilized in biological and/or industrial closed loop cycles

The SPC’s big vision is to create a “…closed loop system for all packaging.” Ecologists define a closed loop as a system “…that does not exchange matter with the outside world.” Where materials and energy would otherwise be thrown away and wasted, a closed loop system would look to repurpose them. Systems approaching a closed loop don’t just benefit the environment: they also save money in production. Energy and materials that can be repurposed instead of wasted should be seen as an opportunity to save the environment, time, resources, and money.