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Beverage packaging reflects economic changes

In the past two years, cost has upended long-term, beverage packaging design as the market faced the global economic downturn, declining consumer spending, volatile packaging materials prices and limited access to capital investment, according to Canadean's latest special interest report "Innovation in Beverage Packaging 2010." However, as the world economy emerges out of the recession, beverage packaging may revert back to previous trends.

 

For many years, the key drivers of beverage packaging design were increased use of added value and convenience features, more sophisticated packaging materials, smaller ‘on-the-go' packs and more elaborate shapes, designs and print. But, the report said the focus has shifted strongly to cost-related factors, such as materials reduction; light-weighting; and improvements in line efficiency, filling techniques and cost-effectiveness.

 

As some countries have begun to emerge from recession in 2010, Canadean reports signs that the underlying long-term economic, demographic and consumer-led changes are beginning to have the upper influence again, causing packaging design to revert to trend. With deteriorating economic conditions, falling consumer spending power and rising employment in many countries across the world, competition at the retail level has increased enormously since 2008. This has resulted in strong downward pressure on product pricing and hence also packaging costs.

 

The main beneficiaries of this were initially the discount retailers, which took share from supermarkets as consumers searched for greater value for money. In response, many of the supermarkets revamped and extended their own ranges to compete with the discounters at the value end of the market. This resulted in an explosion of private label worldwide and yet more competition and pressure on product and packaging prices.

 

As some countries have begun to come out of recession in 2010, the market is still currently dominated by materials reduction and cost considerations, but early signs of a return in packaging design towards value-added and convenience features are emerging.

 

According to the report, some key global trends over the last two years include:

  • PET growth, including hot-fill PET 
  • Bio-degradable plastics 
  • Shift from heavy, rigid containers to lighter weight, flexible packaging and pouches 
  • Barrier plastics 
  • Light-weighting and material saving measures 
  • Reduction in bottle and closure weights without loss of performance and functionality 
  • Greater emphasis on environmental issues and a shift in concern from packaging waste and recycling
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