Every so often, I see info about the packaging industry that makes me go, “Whoa!” Like these recent growth stats:
1. Incredibly, the contract packaging business has more than doubled since 2008—even through the Great Recession—according to the Third Edition of The State of the Contract Packaging Industry report conducted by independent research firm SAI Industrial LLC on behalf of the Contract Packaging Assn. Consistent demand for their services, and a healthy profit margin in 2013 (26% to 31% on average), contributed to the exponential growth. It’s been a win-win scenario: Brand owners are seeing multiple benefits from working more collaboratively with their contract manufacturing and packaging partners, as industry veteran Bob Scalia wrote in last month’s article “Contract manufacturing: A new era”.
2. This male-dominated industry is seeing a steady and increasing influx of females. Just take a look around you. Need more evidence? Gayle Roubos, undergraduate academic specialist at Michigan State University’s School of Packaging—which has the largest packaging curriculum of all schools—lays out some numbers that support this: “There are 833 undergraduates in the [packaging] program, 27 Masters students [not including online Masters students] and 17 Ph.D. students. There are 320 female undergraduate students (38%), 12 Masters students (44%) and 7 female Ph.D. students (41%). In the 2013/2014 academic year, 43 females graduated out of a total number of 148 graduating students (29%). This year’s incoming class has 86 students in it (68 new freshmen, 18 transfers). Of those incoming students, 43 are female, giving us a true 50/50 split.”
3. The 2014 Pack Expo International show will be the largest one yet, with more than 2,200 exhibitors vying for the attention of the 50,000+ expected visitors (see p.54 for a show overview and p.56 for a preview of some new products you’ll see there). What’s driving the growth? Jim Pittas, vp, trade shows with show owner/organizer PMMI, says, “We’ve been pleased with the support the industry is showing for Pack Expo International 2014 and Pharma Expo. The Pack Expo shows are all about encountering innovations in technologies and solutions, and this combined event will take that to the next level. I’m certain attendees will enjoy having the opportunity to attend both shows, and the cross pollination of ideas that occurs as a result will be beneficial to the industry at large, as well as to individuals and their companies.” I know I wouldn’t miss it for half the chocolate in a Hershey’s warehouse. Will you be there?
4. Nearly half (48%) of healthcare packaging professionals have worked at the same company for at least 10 years, according to the 2014 Salary Survey from Pharmaceutical & Medical Packaging News. The article goes on to say, “And about half (49.5%) are satisfied with their current position; an additional 19.8% are very satisfied.” Knowing that they help people who need it could be one incentive. Here’s another: The average annual salary is $115,000, boosted by an average raise of 3.5%. Certainly nothing to sneeze at.
5. Packaging as a marketing aid will become even more über important for food in coming years—fresh and processed. OK, so maybe I’m pushing it too far to call this a “fact,” because it’s more of a prediction. The “The Future of Food: How our eating habits will change” article in the Aug. 15-17 USA Weekend section of my local paper talks about how processed foods will take a backseat to fresh produce in the next five years. But branding will be key to help sell more produce, which will help lower prices, making these foods a more affordable choice for consumers on a budget. Processed food companies will not concede any ground without a fight, though. And preventing food waste, which is much more prevalent with fresh items, will undoubtedly be part of the conversation. All of which bodes well for packaging activity in both sectors.