What are the key takeaways from the packaging trends and developments?
Goncalves: The key takeaway from the report in regards to packaging is to note the trend towards smart packaging technologies for egrocery. When we talk about smart packaging, we’re referencing unique digital codes that allow each and every product package to be given a unique identifier. These create an interactive channel with individual consumers, allowing brands to have real time conversations with the consumers. This then allows brands to continuously improve the shopping experience and make it ever more personalized for the consumer.
Another key takeaway as it relates to packaging is the continued pressure amongst consumers for sustainability, especially in regards to plastic and awareness of the circular economy. Consumers wonder if brands are "doing the right thing" and packaging is a key part that egrocers need to consider when answering that question.
The report points to HelloFresh as the world’s leading meal kit subscription. What role does packaging play for the brand?
Goncalves: HelloFresh is a very customer centric brand that seeks to meet the demands of consumers to make healthy, delicious meals, easily from home. Their commitment in always delivering a new experience and quality brings value to their customers.
One of the key challenges for meal kits companies is the waste—which is connected with the environmental concerns from consumers. Having packages that will keep the food fresh, do not damage the other food inside the kit (especially fresh vegetables) and do not require extra packaging to reach consumers is a major concern. For example, Tetra Pak cartons like the Tetra Recart are often used in HelloFresh because they are shelf-stable, made of renewable materials, are lightweight and represent little risk in damaging other ingredients in the meal kits when compared to heavier packages like glass and cans.
Few should be surprised about the growing role of robotics. In short, what's happening?
Goncalves: As you saw in the report, robotics to pick-and-pack products was the number one trend for 2025 in the etailer survey. We’ve seen retailers like Ocado and Amazon that have already cut the “click to ship” cycle down by roughly 50 minutes through the deployment of tens of thousands of robots. China’s Alibaba has perhaps the most advanced use of robotics. The retail giant has a fully automated process from parcel sorting to loading trucks. Looking ahead, secondary packaging will likely be modified for use with robots as they currently struggle with handling materials like shrink wrap.
Please summarize the role of code-based engagement and traceability.
Goncalves: Code-based customer engagement technologies open up a one-to-one communication channel between the brand and consumer. This solution positions brands as leaders in innovation and provides consumers with a new brand experience. As included in the report, Puleva launched the Puleva Tido app in March 2018. With this, users scan the unique code carried on the top of every Puleva Tetra Brik Aseptic Slim 200 package and they get a point for every scanned code, enabling them to participate in drawings for a range of prizes.
Traceability is made possible through solutions like Tetra Pak’s smart packaging where each package is printed with a unique code that is traced throughout the supply chain. This process pins every point the package or carton touched throughout the manufacturing, distribution and sale process, providing valuable insight into production and sales data.
The full Tetra Pak Grocery 2018 report can be downloaded for free here.
MinnPack 2018 (October 31 – November 1, Minneapolis) is part of the Midwest’s largest advanced design and manufacturing event that brings you the latest in materials, automation, packaging and more. ___________________________________________________________________________________