The pandemic, resource and labor shortages, and more have noticeably altered the food packaging industry this past year. With some of the new trends being years in the making and others skyrocketing to the top with the recent circumstances, here are some of the top food packaging trends for 2022.
Eco-friendly and sustainable packaging has been a growing trend with consumers gaining awareness of climate change and the impact of their lifestyle on the environment. Consumers are now willing to spend on environmentally friendly and sustainable products, with 85% spending “greener” recently. At a minimum, consumers are searching for transparency in the packaging process. From the packaging material to where the packaging ends up at the end of its life cycle, consumers want to know it all. Investing in greener packaging now can also save time later as more governments impose stricter regulations on packaging to go green. France, for example, pledged to end single-use plastics by 2040. With climate change and sustainability being top of mind for customers and new technology making a green future a reality, this trend will continue to thrive.
Limited Edition and Personalized Packaging
Recent advancements in automation have made it possible to cost-effectively produce products with a “lot size one”, referring to creating a small number of goods manufactured in a single production run. Often these items are custom or limited edition, such as specially designed cereal boxes or digitally printed pop cans. Limited edition and personalized packaging have been a part of exciting marketing campaigns since monogrammed handkerchiefs and souvenir keychains with your name and brand on them. In recent history, most notably the Share-a-Coke campaign that had large commercial success with their Coke bottles that featured customer’s names rather than the Coke brand name. This long-running campaign saw an increase in sales, good PR, and social media engagement. As brands continue to vie for attention from consumers with an increasingly short attention span and packaging technology continues to evolve, limited edition and personalized packaging will only continue to grow in scale and popularity.
Interactive packaging such as QR codes, Augmentative Reality (AR) technology, Smart Labels, and more have become the latest hot trend to get customers’ attention as they go through the grocery store aisles. Consumers no longer need an app to scan QR codes. Both Apple and Android can scan the QR codes within the native camera app making it accessible for anyone with a smartphone. AR technology has also been rapidly evolving, with the public now familiar with AR technology thanks to apps like Snapchat and TikTok with filters that use the technology to not only change your face but also your surroundings. Easy to implement, interactive packaging can also free up valuable design space on packaging with the introduction of smart labels that digitally provide more nutritional information for curious customers. Interactive packaging is a trend that will only get bigger and better as technology grows.
Usually only required for all over-the-counter drugs, tamper-evident packaging is designed to leave visible evidence when someone tampers with the product's packaging or contents. Tamper evident packaging includes shrink wraps, tear strips, labels, glue, tabs, seals, lids that pop when opened, and more. Recently, the COVID-19 pandemic concerned customers about food safety, both at restaurants and in the grocery store aisles. Many consumers are worried about pranksters who lick ice cream tubs and put them back on the shelf or their delivery driver stealing some fries on the drive over. The government has listened to consumers' concerns with California passing a law in 2021 requiring restaurants to use tamper-evident packaging when using third-party food delivery services such as Uber Eats or Door Dash. Many food companies looking into tamper-evident packaging to give their customers peace of mind. As customers continue to dig deeper into how their food is made and food safety continues to be an issue, tamper-evident packaging will become more commonplace to satisfy consumers that their food is safe.
The recent labor shortage, supply chain issues, and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic have put considerable strains on companies. These challenges have companies turning to automation to keep up with the demand. When investing in an automation system or piece of equipment, sanitation and FDA standards are always top of mind. As every food packaging application is different, companies are looking for customization and flexibility with their equipment. MFT Automation offers both Hygienic and Washdown equipment that meets FDA standards and is modular in design for flexible customization. Combined with over 25 years of experience in the food and automation industries, MFT Automation has the knowledge and resources to find the best solution for your food packaging challenge. Contact us below or explore our vast catalog of packaging and labeling equipment and automation solutions.