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Potentially explosive issues need resolution

A new year often heralds a flurry of resolutions, predictions and trends. In our Top Trends for 2014 article on p.14, leading packaging executives at major brand owners talk about costs, collaboration, competition, sustainability and more.

But two topics our Trends article just touches on could be quite explosive in 2014: Regulations and Personnel.


Here's why.

1. Regulations: Activity around several packaging-related laws and guidance is heating up, with labeling information and/or claims often at the forefront.

Nutritional Labeling: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) plans to update its Nutrition Facts label policies, which will impact nearly all food and beverage products marketed for retail sale and promoted in the U.S. According to FoodMinds LLC, a food and nutrition consulting and communications agency, this sweeping change to update the 20-year-old guidelines presents challenges—and opportunities—that food and beverage companies will need to quickly understand and mobilize.

Track-and-trace/serialization: President Obama signed The Drug Quality and Security Act (DQSA) into law in November 2013. This national traceability law pre-empts any tracking regulation of the drug supply by individual states and gives pharmaceutical companies more time to build out a solution for interoperable electronic tracking of serialized product.

Nanotechnology: Scientific breakthroughs in nanotech continue, with many potential innovations in packaging. On p.34, Michael Flanagan, chair of the Food & Beverage Industry Team at Foley & Lardner law firm, gives an overview on where we stand today with FDA guidance—and where we might be headed.

2. Personnel: Baby boomers are reaching retirement age at a healthy clip. The Government Accounting Office (GAO) cites 10,000 a day, while others in the blogosphere debunk that "inflated" and "politically motivated number" and say the real number is closer to 6,800. Either way, a good chunk of the workforce could see a significant turnover (not every Boomer who reaches retirement age will retire).

And, with American manufacturing facilities investing in more sophisticated automation to stay cost competitive in the global marketplace, the skill level of the workforce is rising even as the number of employees is falling.

So in 2014, we'll be sharing more educational and training options with you, whether it be information about formal programs, such as the Fundamentals of Packaging Technology courses from the Institute of Packaging Professionals (IoPP), or learning opportunities at various industry events, such as the Learning Labs at WestPack, Feb. 11-13, in Anaheim, CA. Packaging Digest has put together another dynamic interactive WestPack Insider digital issue, which will be sent out in mid-January. Look for it in your in-box soon. It will have details about our packaging-related seminars and much more.

And rest assured that we'll continue to cover these hot topics throughout the year in print and online. So make sure you also bookmark to stay up-to-date. 



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