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Top 5 food packaging hits of 2018

Top 5 food packaging hits of 2018
A special edition collection of the top-read food packaging articles of 2018 as determined by readers.

A quintet of food packaging megahits this year messaged food safety, show-time innovations and advancements, the value of packaging-powered smiles and sweet and savory improvements.

Packaging Digest’s top food packaging hits of the year compilation is an editorial quintet that first burst on the scene more than 11 months ago, and ended up hitting all the right notes for readers among the many dozens of articles published in 2018.

Revealed in reverse order, the opening act in our short list of the best of the best—plus encore content found at the conclusion—begins with a cautionary tale related to food safety and health issues that draw consumers’ interest if not also their concern. This certified hit feature takes our attention to the west coast where a number of music groups and trends have gotten their start, only to break loose onto a much bigger stage and gain national or even international attention.

This article found its genesis in a landmark proposition from the Golden State, specifically Proposition 65. Turns out that high-stakes changes are afoot for the well-known California regulation that will likely and more deeply impact food packaging and food packagers. Mitzi Ng Clark, partner, Keller and Heckman LLP, walked readers through an informative overview in addressing three key questions about what’s happening and what’s ahead:

What’s the backdrop to the regulation relative to food packaging?

What’s upcoming that packaging professionals should know about?

What about the impending changes is surprising or worth pointing out?

To read Clark’s responses that resonated with our audience, see Proposition 65 and food packaging: A preview of coming changes


While presenting the latest solutions in automation, food packaging, package design and more, WestPack 2019 (Feb. 5-7; Anaheim, CA) provides access to the industry’s leading educational offerings with the 3D Printing and Smart Manufacturing Innovations Summits and free industry education at the Expo. Register to attend today! ___________________________________________________________________________________

#4 Hitting the big stage in Chicago


While the biggest bands and musicians play to packed stadiums, the packaging industry’s biggest stage domestically is McCormick Place in Chicago, which in mid-October hosted Pack Expo. The star-studded venue featured the biggest names in packaging highlighted throughout numerous product markets including the top-billed duet in the business, food and beverage packaging.

An octet of select innovations from that market each brought something new and different to take the spotlight in this report released November 1. As an encore, here again is that star-packed lineup in order of appearance:

1. A barrier food tray made of primarily of kraft paper—and looks like it, too—that’s 100% recyclable.

2. A near-field communication (NFC) tag integrated into the cap so that it can be applied seamlessly to bottles at production-line speeds.  

3. The North America debut of the Asepto holographic aseptic carton for beverage products.

4. A familiar name moves into the resealable liquid pouches market for the first time with a zipper-less, patented technology.

5. These high-clarity and sustainably-optimized PET food trays with several key benefits are also an NA first. 

6. The world’s first liquid refill system engineered exclusively for ecommerce distribution debuts.

7. A bulked-up closure system brings something new and convenient to the powdered and granular products market. 

8. This nifty little reclosure turns bagged products from boring to beckoning.

For the full long-play version, see Pack Expo 2018: 8 advancements in food and beverage packaging.

#3 A marketing plan to make you smile


There’s a number of songs related to smiles and smiling that have charted over the years. Similarly, veteran Packaging Digest contributing editor Kate Bertrand Connolly recorded a hit with a report on a  PepsiCo’s Frito-Lay division program that put smiles on bags of Lay’s Potato Chips as part of a limited-time “Smile with Lay’s” campaign. For each purchase of one of the specially designed bags—which are printed with the smiles of real consumers—the brand is making a donation to Operation Smile, an international charity that helps young people who need surgery to correct cleft conditions.

The packaging design, which incorporates a diverse assortment of smiling faces, rolled out across the United States in February. Fourteen of Lay’s potato chip flavors are available in the grin-inducing food packaging. Sizes include 2.88-oz (three-serving) and 10-oz family-size bags.

In addition to buying Lay’s Smile bags in-store, consumers can go online to order a bag of Lay’s Classic Potato Chips printed with their own smile. Sarah Guzman, senior director of marketing, Lay’s, answered questions about the packaging and the campaign.

You can read all about it in Lay’s Potato Chip bags use smile power to help kids in need.

#2 Chewy chewy sweets and snacks


There were several hits from the 1960s, including “Chewy Chewy” by Ohio Express and “Sugar Sugar” by The Archies, that could preview the runner-up top article of the year in food packaging. It was fielded by packaging editorial maven Jenni Spinner, who in groupie-like fashion made her annual visit to Chicago’s 2018 Sweets & Snacks Expo joined by some 18,000 candy and snacks professionals. Spinner’s insightfully succinct synopsis, a multipage feature covering new products and packaging innovations, proved riveting for readers.

The 10 nifty new items and fascinating trends on display at the show were summarized by these quick-hitting summaries:

1. Contrasting ideas

2. Solo snacking

3. Cake bites

4. Downsized delectables

5. Multi-part munchies

6. Same candy, new format

7. Fun with branding

8. Makeover time

9. Hip chicks

10. Rice is nice

You can enjoy the zero calorie treats found in Chew on this: Packaging trends for new sweets and snacks

#1 A ghost of concerns past still haunts food packaging…

Our Food Packaging Top 5 of 2018 ended as we started: with a food health concern.

As with the movie Ghostbusters that possesses a catchy theme song, packaging also has its specters that could use some myth busting. Case in point: Food cans continue to be plagued by a nagging issue that, despite a number of scientific reports and studies to the contrary and industry changes, painfully persists.

It is, of course, the infamous bisphenol-A, aka BPA.

That’s despite the fact that, in reaction to market demands for more options in food safety, at least 90% of today’s food cans have replaced linings that previously contained the controversial chemical, according to the Can Manufacturers Institute in this timely report.

Robert Budway, president of the CMI, says, “Can makers and can lining companies take very seriously our responsibility to provide safe, quality packaging that consumers trust. Safety is our number one priority and we’re proud to contribute to a healthy, affordable food supply in a way that reduces food waste and respects the environment.”

Food can linings now are typically made from acrylic and polyester. And all new materials are extensively tested and are cleared by regulatory agencies before being sold in the market. Linings are necessary to prevent the can from corroding, provide a barrier to bacteria and maintain food quality.

As with any packaging material, though, trace levels can migrate into the food contained within, which is why there were health concerns about BPA. Despite reassurances about the safety of BPA from the Food and Drug Administration, some research shows that even trace amounts of BPA might cause problems with reproductive, neurological and immune systems in humans and animals.

The CMI stresses the remarkable safety record of canned foods: “More than 3,000 people die and more than 40,000 are hospitalized from foodborne illnesses every year, yet there has not been a single reported incidence of foodborne illness from the failure of metal packaging in more than 40 years and the consumption of trillions of cans of food.”

Budway answers Packaging Digest’s questions about the development of new food can linings in Most food cans no longer use BPA in their linings.

And the hits keep coming: In this bonus extended-edition version of the annual list of the best-read features of the year, we round out the top-read food packaging stories of 2018 to reach a neat and tidy Top 10:

6. What ‘chemicals of concern’ are in your food packaging?

7. Clean packaging: The next step in consumer transparency

8. Sensational soufflé packaging reunites Delici with Costco

9. Flexible food packs bulk up with superior performance

10. Lamb Weston unveils sustainably optimized food packaging


While presenting the latest solutions in automation, food packaging, package design and more, WestPack 2019 (Feb. 5-7; Anaheim, CA) provides access to the industry’s leading educational offerings with the 3D Printing and Smart Manufacturing Innovations Summits and free industry education at the Expo. Register to attend today! ___________________________________________________________________________________

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