From harvest to home. Today Report examines innovation in “primary packaging” for food and beverages, revealing the latest technologies, trends, companies and brands.

It highlights the rationale behind the packaging of household products used every day, and what manufacturers are trying to accomplish with the packaging they employ. Below the questions from Thomson Reuters for industry expert:

1. What roles do you believe packaging plays in the food industry and how do you view the relative importance of the different roles?
A very interesting question – and one with many answers. For far too long the main objective has been endless choice and manufacturing more of the same, rather that understanding and engaging with real consumer needs. Endless product choice means that packaging has to shout: ‘Buy me, Buy me’. To stand out from this crowd, companies first have to ask themselves: “What do people really want?” They must consider how they can make a difference to people’s lives. Brands will have to practice what I call people-centric innovation and engage in honest Dialogue to understand how to best emotionally engage with people, both through packaging and the product inside the packaging.

Packaging is invariably the actual physical touch point or interface between the consumer and the product so it is a primary deliverer of what I call emotional consumption. Today consumers demand more from a brand than ever before. They want luxury and indulgence and, at the same time, food safety and Health Intelligence. All these elements then need to be balanced by demonstrable concern for Sustainability and ethics – and all at a discount price. It is a tall order for the packaging industry to address all these dimensions. There is another element to consider. Increasingly consumers want to know the provenance, locality and environmental impact of the product – they want The Real Thing – and this must also be reflected in the packaging design.

Packaging has all the material properties that allow for great tactility that will appeal to the senses and emotions of the informed consumer. Various embossing processes as well as the matte paper-like soft touch finish and impact printing can be used to great advantage when brand and manufacturer want to stand out without being ‘loud’. However, with the green consumer believing that most products today simply have too much packaging – incorporating too many unsustainable materials – manufacturers will have to actively seek innovative methods for radically downsizing and reducing the protective layering that goes around their products – also choosing materials that can be recycled or re-used. The pay-off is in material savings, and that will impact cost structures and also attract consumers who are practising Conscious Consumption by making the product without superfluous packaging their first choice.

2. What do you consider to be the most pressing issues facing the food packaging industry today?
Sustainability, Economy and Regulation

Trends likely to affect packaging:

3. How do you believe these issues are being addressed?
After the global recession we clearly see that Profit is now calculated in a very different way. A triple P bottom line will be how we will calculate profit in the future.  It is a value and values driven proposition and the only way to take your company into the 21st-century. To be successful you will have to consider not just one P for Profit but P for People and P for Planet.

4. What have you seen as significant innovations within the industry?
Well there is simply so much competition and copy-cat culture that I find it hard to differentiate.  Once you get an innovatively packaged product or a brand everyone tries to imitate it and this breeds a culture of sameness. I do believe that packaging uniqueness, incorporating provenance and storytelling, is going to be a major factor in the success of brands in the future. Inspiring and informative colour coding and graphics on packaging within a product line to differentiate content is another developing trend. A survey by Mintel from 2009 said that 64 percent of Americans wanted to see more colour-coded packages to help them distinguish between products.

A great example of this, and a useful case study, is Vitaminwater. Every label colour – and also liquid colour – indicates a different flavour and signifies a different functional benefit. This simplifies the consumer shopping experience, and makes them feel empowered and emotionally connected. Vitaminwater also practised open innovation by creating a new flavour with fans on Facebook. Open innovation and Dialouge is looking outside your company’s four walls for ideas and new thinking. Only very few companies have recognised the need to go outside the company for innovation. Those who do soon realise that ‘loss of control’ of their brand destiny brings a greater payback because they are truly engaging with people – giving their consumers a stake in and influence over – the brand. The ‘not invented here’ culture still rules far too many organisations but that really needs to go by the wayside.

5. What technical solutions do you identify as holding the most promise for the future of the industry?
The future will see touch sensitive and responsive packaging – today we call it RFID-enabled packaging. With Cloud Culture now a reality, you simply scan the packaging with your mobile phone and in no time collect everything you could possibly want to know about the product from the Cloud. It can tell you what is inside, how to use it – even point you to recipes on YouTube. It will also document the product journey in real-time – from manufacture to delivery to use by date – all backed up by peer review. This is what I call Total Transparency. The GoodGuide App is just one of many that can help people to become Conscious Consumers. Before long you will have Google analytics for any product, telling you everything there is to know.

6. How has the environment movement impacted green packaging?
No one can be in business today without addressing the sustainability issue. There has long been an undercurrent of change that is now becoming more prominent. Sustainability is our new religion and the informed citizen practices Sustainability by doing. The really good news is that the “primary packaging” industry – from drink cans and bottles to paper and plastics – is effecting change because they have all have the tools and potentials to develop the most sustainable packaging propositions ever. Today’s consumer is very savvy, connected and informed and they want to be proactive in the way they consume. The trend here, as mentioned before, is Conscious Consumption. Knowing that what you buy is the least harmful to the planet makes people feel good and when they feel good they connect with the product and the brand.

Kjaer Global Consumer Key Trends To Watch

1. Total Transparency: Openness becomes the new norm, as boundaries between public and private worlds are redrawn. Ethics and caring values are essential measures of a product or company’s success and, with nowhere to hide from online exposure, trust goes hand in hand with transparency.

2. Conscious Consumption and Sustainability: Personal satisfaction and sustainable living are finely balanced, as individuals take real responsibility for their shopping and consuming habits. Governments and corporations embrace this movement through education, empowerment and open discussion.

3. Cloud Culture and Dialogue: Digital reality broadens horizons as data and apps move to the ‘Cloud’. Accessibility and open source enables new collaborations and communities – feeding our desire for instant information, true personal expression and genuine ‘real-time’ dialogue with companies.

4. The Real Thing: In a homogeneous world, people crave meaning, individuality and emotional connection. Everything a brand says or does reflects its values. Empowerment brands will tell their individual story in fresh ways, inviting us to experience the Real Thing – it’s a soul thing.

5. Health Intelligence: With rising concern and increasing information about obesity, stress and other lifestyle diseases, health management and personal wellbeing become even bigger business. Seeking holistic approaches, people actively pursue a healthier and more balanced lifestyle.

6. Happiness Hunting: Forget wealth, happiness is the new measure of success. With ‘karma capital’ and happiness hunting viewed as a serious business proposition, governments, companies and individuals look beyond the balance sheet and start to explore what make society a happier place.

 Images
1. Cake counter in Budapest
2. Packaging Facts and Figures

 

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