Trends to watch out for in 2016 for plastic packaging

When it comes to packaging, plastic dominates the market beating out metal, glass and paper in the food and beverage category. And there’s no slowing down as the future looks bright with recent economic reports forecasting that the demand for rigid plastic food and beverage packaging and containers will grow at a rate of 5% a year until the total market reaches $5.4 billion in 2017. Flexible packaging is also on the rise, too. Global demand for flexible packaging is growing at an annual rate of 3.4% and expected to reach $248 billion by 2020. Right now, the food industry accounts for 70% of the demand for flexible packaging. Contributing to this significant growth are recent advances in plastics-processing technologies.

With all this projected growth in the next few years, it’s no surprise that this past year the plastic packaging industry was full of exciting innovations that emerged into the market. And 2016 looks no different as PlasticsToday predicts to see more and more of these pioneering trends further develop. Here we present some concepts which companies are implementing using plastic.

Plastic cans   

In 2015, we saw a handful of packaging manufacturers targeting the canning industry, making the case for plastic as a revolutionary alternative to the staple metal can. It’s now possible to make the switch from a metal cannery to a plastic packaging company due to technical advances in PET and plastic blowmolding. Plastic packaging manufacturers can now offer a viable alternative to food makers once solely dependant on metal for oxygen barriers and other required preservation techniques.

Last year, PlasticsToday reported on how the Klear Can from Milacron Holdings Corp. (Cincinnati, OH) recently passed a critical food safety test and is undergoing further testing with a number of select prospects. So, expect to read more about this.

Milacron’s Klear Can technology is an ideal alternative to metal cans for fruits, vegetables, soups, meats and other products. It uses the same filling, seaming and retorting machinery as metal cans so minimal downstream investment is required. Manufacturers can also produce/mold cans at the filling site (through the wall operations), be cost competitive to the metal can, and allow brand owners to demonstrate quality of the product to consumers.

Global packaging leader Sonoco (Hartsville, SC) also recently brought to market its TruVue can, made with its proprietary Fusion Freshlock Technology, which consists of a highly engineered, multilayer plastic substrate that makes it transparent and the enclosed product visible to the consumer. It has an easy-open metal lid and metal bottom that consumers prefer on a traditional metal can.

Also, TruVue is the first clear plastic can to withstand the rigors of continuous retort systems without overpressure, performing in high-temperature and high-pressure environments. In addition, the distinctive construction of the TruVue can provides a more uniform heating experience, a quicker retort cycle and greater strength performance throughout the supply chain, compared to competitive formats. The package is non-BPA (BPA-NIA) for food contact.

Intelligent packaging

Consumers today are more tech savvy than ever. Companies are responding to this with intelligent packaging, which makes it possible to connect with buyers through track-and-trace technologies, otherwise known as bar or QR codes. The wine and spirits market is currently a huge adopter of this.

Another factor contributing to this concept is that food and beverage companies are becoming increasingly worried about counterfeit goods, mainly overseas. In the coming years, many companies will likely explore custom product packaging with bar codes and other forms of authentication as significant growth is predicted in the anti-counterfeit packaging (ACP) market.

In a recent report from Allied Market Research (AMR), the ACP market is likely to grow at a CAGR of 16.1% through 2020, reaching $62.5 billion by 2020.

The forecast is revealed in AMR’s new report, “World Anti-counterfeit Food & Beverage Packaging Market- Industry Analysis, Size, Growth, Trends, Opportunities, and Forecast, 2014-2020.”

The report predicts that holograms will hold on to the leading position in overall authentication technology market through to 2020, while radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology exhibits fastest growth at 20.4% CAGR during the forecast period.

Near-field communication (NFC), RFID, smart labels, and smart caps are a few examples of where brand owners are tracking the quality and safety of food products at various points during the supply chain to ensure product integrity.

Recloseable, resealable packaging

Many cost-conscious consumers are purchasing their food in bulk today, which makes the ability to securely reclose the package to keep food fresh critical to eliminate food waste.

Last year, UK-based Pulse Flexible Packaging Ltd. won the Silver award in the Food category of the prestigious 2015 Starpack 

Awards with their bespoke pack for M&S eatwell Seed & Nut Mix. The pack comes with a number of high level consumer convenience features, including an easy-open and reclose format, highly visible tamper evidence and good portion control.

The application of Macfarlane’s Reseal It technology to the reverse of the pack allows the consumer to easily open and reseal the pack, allowing for effortless portion control. An additional tear strip, also developed in conjunction with Macfarlane, was incorporated into the tamper evidence feature to ensure the brand owner’s food safety regulations were not compromised and gives additional peace of mind to the consumer.

Also taking home an award last year was a new packaging solution from Bemis Co. (Neenah, WI) using DuPont (Wilmington, DE) advanced materials. Bemis Co. developed a new BelGioioso Mild Provolone packaging solution using DuPont Selar PA and DuPont Bynel in a resealable package. The package is made up of two individually sealed compartments. This transformational package provides consumer convenience by allowing the user to easily peel and reseal the package 20 times or more with fingertip pressure. What’s more, the package is perforated which allows the consumer to easily separate the two compartments without using a knife or scissors.

“High-performance materials add value to packaging in many ways, but especially in protecting food and keeping food fresher and more appealing longer,” said Yasmin Siddiqi, Global Packaging Relationship Manager, DuPont Packaging & Industrial Polymers. “As the packaging industry converges on this global issue, more and more solutions like this resealable system will be required.”

Bemis won a Silver Award in the 2015 DuPont Awards for Packaging Innovation, demonstrating excellence in the Enhanced User Experience criteria.

Written By Kari Embree 
Published: January 12th, 2016

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