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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e-cigarette in use

New Liquid Nicotine Packaging Regulation Enacted in 2016

According to a statement released by The White House on January 28, 2016, President Obama signed into law “the ‘Child Nicotine Poisoning Prevention Act of 2015,’ which requires the packaging of liquid nicotine containers to be subject to existing child poisoning prevention packaging standards.” The new bill necessitates that any liquid nicotine sold or imported into The United States adheres to standards and testing procedures determined by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (the CPSC in part sets measures that make it more difficult for children to ingest harmful materials).

liquid nicotine

Liquid nicotine is used in the increasingly popular e-cigarette. Also commonly known as vaporizers, these devices work by heating a mixture of liquid nicotine, flavoring, water, and a liquid base (such as propylene glycol or glycerin). The liquid is heated to its boiling point, after which it becomes a vapor that can be inhaled. 

Packaging standards like this are nothing new–the Poison Prevention Packaging Act of 1970 (of which the Nicotine Poisoning act is now a part) is responsible for the requirement of child safety features on myriad hazardous products, including prescription drugs and over the counter medication, and chemicals such as turpentine, methanol, or acid. It was only a matter of time before liquid nicotine products became included in this act–in 2015, there were over 1,500 reported exposures to e-cigarettes and liquid nicotine in children under the age of 6. Liquid nicotine is especially problematic with children, as it can be dangerous through skin contact alone.

International Organization for Standardization logo

Child-resistant packaging standards are tested and determined by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO)–specifically, child-resistant packaging falls under ISO 8317:2015, which outlines “…performance requirements and test methods for reclosable packages designated as resistant to opening by children.” Testing also covers how accessible the packaging is to able-bodied adults. Liquid nicotine packaging will likely now include a child-resistant cap.

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What is Direct Trade?

CCC_DTCseal_CCCThis week, we’ll be taking a look at the idea behind direct trade. A few weeks prior, we discussed the practice of fair trade: it’s an agreement that allows producers in developing countries to sell their products at a fair price, helps to keep their products sustainable, and makes sure their workers are being treated fairly. Fair trade acts as a sort of partnership which aims to make sure that no one is being taken advantage of.

Some consumers take issue with fair trade for a multitude of reasons, the most prevalent of which involves a lack of substantial evidence proving that fair trade practices positively impact the very countries which it claims to benefit, and that much of the money does not even go to the farmers who produce these goods (or their economy). Some critics claim that while fair trade is a good idea in theory, in practice, fair trade has “…evolved from an economic and social justice movement to largely a marketing model for ethical consumerism.”

Regardless of your opinion on fair trade, direct trade is worth taking a look at. It’s seen by many as an alternative, better, and more personalized version of fair trade. One of the biggest names in direct trade certification belongs to the co-owner of Counter Culture Coffee, Peter Giuliano, who self-identifies as a student of coffee (despite being in the industry for decades). He is also the director of the Specialty Coffee Association of America.

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Counter Culture Coffee boasts its own direct trade certification. According to their site,


“Counter Culture Direct Trade Certification is based on the principles guiding our coffee purchases and our relationships with coffee growers and grower groups. We engage an external auditor on an annual basis to verify Counter Culture’s compliance with four quantifiable measures, and coffees that meet the following standards qualify for Direct Trade Certification:

  1. Personal & direct communication: Counter Culture has visited all growers of certified coffees on a biennial basis, at minimum.
  2. Fair & sustainable prices paid to farmers: Counter Culture has paid at least $1.60/lb F.O.B. for green coffee.
  3. Exceptional cup quality: Coffees have scored at least 85 on a 100-pt. cup quality scale.
  4. Supply chain transparency: Counter Culture maintains direct communication between buyers, sellers, and any intermediaries (like importers). All relevant financial information is available to all parties, always.”

If you’ve read our fair trade post, you’ll probably recognize many of those practices. The difference is that with direct trade, a lasting relationship is built with the growers. Additionally, rather than meeting an extensive list of requirements (many of which may not apply to some growers, and may completely exclude those who are poor), requirements are personalized. In this way, direct trade is built to directly benefit the growers.

Better Health and Tea

1427604_56978169Tea is one of my favorite things to drink, and it’s not just because it’s delicious. Research suggests that drinking tea comes with all sorts of benefits; most notably, it’s rich in antioxidants and vitamins, and can even help to prevent cancer and cardiovascular diseases. Additionally, certain types of tea may help to prevent liver disorders and kidney stones, stabilize blood sugar levels, contain antibacterial/antiviral properties, and can help to combat osteoporosis. Can dried leaves really be all that great? What makes tea so good for you?

First, let’s take a look at where tea even comes from. Tea is only technically considered to be tea if it comes from the leaves of the bush Camellia sinensis. Other varieties, like herbal teas, come from things like flowers or peppermint leaves. Varieties of tea derived from the leaves Camellia sinensis are wider than many would probably expect. White tea, pu-reh, yellow—and the big three—oolong, black, and green, all come from the same place. They only differ because of the way they’re processed.

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When processing tea, the final product varies depending upon its oxidation level (fermentation, how much oxygen it is exposed to before it is processed). For example, with green tea, the leaves are steamed and dried immediately after they’re plucked, minimizing/eliminating oxidation. On the other end of the spectrum, black tea is fully oxidized before it is processed. Oolong tea falls somewhere in the middle, with partial oxidation before the steaming/drying phase.

Other than water, hot tea is the most popular beverage in the world. Globally, black tea is the most common, followed by green, and then oolong. The top five tea consumers worldwide include Qatar, UK, Kuwait, Libya, and lastly, Ireland (consuming a whopping 5.97 pounds every year per person).[1]

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The bulk of scientific research done on tea pertains to oolong, black, and green, so we’ll be focusing on those three. Green tea is most commonly associated with good health, but all three of the above types contain lots of antioxidants and vitamins that can help to prevent disease. In fact, according to John Weisburger, Ph.D., (a long time researcher and avid lover of tea), green and black tea can contain approximately 10 times the amount of antioxidants found in fruits and vegetables.[2] While not as widely consumed, other types of tea derived from Camellia sinensis are also rich in antioxidants, as the oxidation process has not been shown to make too large a difference in levels.

Antioxidants are the biggest benefit that tea brings to the table, as they are responsible for seeking out and destroying things that can damage our cells (which can potentially lead to cardiovascular disease and cancer). Heart disease rates in tea drinkers versus non-tea drinkers have been observed to be lower, as well as strokes. Additionally, antioxidants found in tea have been reported to lower blood pressure and cholesterol, and can reduce the risk of liver disease.

Main Sources:

  • Tea and health, Siro I. Trevisanato, Ph.D., and Young-In Kim, M.D.
  • A review of latest research finding on the heath promotion properties of tea, Christiane J. Dufresne, Edward R. Farnworth
  • Green tea leads to better health, Australian Nursing Journal
  • Steep yourself in better health, Rachel Meltzer Warren