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Articles from 2017 In December

Top 10 packaging design editorials of 2017

Top 10 packaging design editorials of 2017
Packaging design articles are always popular with our audience.

Great packaging design is the common denominator for articles about Kellogg’s on-the-go snacks, cannabis, millennials, smart packaging, influential kids, shaped aluminum and the “beauty” market. As we continue our end-of-the-year review, we now present our Top 10 list of packaging design-related items for the year based on page views at

One qualification: Packaging design-related articles that appear in other top-article lists are not duplicated here. For example, “Bag-in-box bulk water debuts in U.S.” definitely details the AquaViBox packaging design but because it hits #5 on our list of “7 best-read food and beverage packaging articles of 2017,” it does not show up in this compilation.

We start our countdown with…

#10. New tech reshapes aluminum beverage bottles

Aluminum beverage bottles reached an apex around 2005 with the introduction of reclosable, shaped designs for Coke and Jolt soda brands. It has taken another decade to improve on that with technology that creates asymmetric shapes in register with printing.

The proprietary, patented uShape technology from Montebello Packaging helps brands stand out with a unique shape that provides powerful iconic brand equity. The technology allows Montebello Packaging to asymmetrically shape an aluminum bottle with flutes, embossing, debossing and various fine details.

NEXT: Kellogg’s kits packed for on-the-go snacking

#9. Kellogg’s kits packed for on-the-go snacking

Packaging for Kellogg’s new Keebler Town House Pita and Flatbread Cracker and Hummus Snack Boxes delivers a mess-free and utensil-free snacking experience for busy, on-the-go consumers looking for a quick bite to tide them over.

In this Packaging Digest exclusive interview, Tom Hanel, Kellogg’s lead packaging engineer, explains how the single and three-count multipack snack boxes also satisfied supply chain needs. “Both formats were designed to deliver through traditional Kellogg storage and distribution systems, though the packaging materials selected also protect the integrity of the crackers and hummus when placed in deli cases and refrigerators.”

Read more about the packages’ sustainability impact by clicking the link in the headline above.

NEXT: Cannabis brand Toast uses elegant packaging to convey luxury


#8. Cannabis brand Toast uses elegant packaging to convey luxury

In the first of three cannabis packaging articles to make our list, we are introduced to Toast, a luxury brand of smokable marijuana. The “Slices” (which resemble cigarettes) are elegantly presented in a rigid box with an Art Deco design, embossing, foil stamping and metallic inks.

Gabrielle Rein, chief creative officer at Toast and creative director at Viceroy Creative , which developed the structural and graphic packaging design, talks about how the high-quality paperboard box is a “meticulously crafted” unisex design that skews feminine.

“We took a very high-quality, crafted approach to creating something that was enjoyable to use,” Rein says. “The package is recyclable. Or you may want to just hold onto it for a secondary use! It has a magnetic closure.”

She also brags about the brand’s shelf appeal. “Customers consistently enter the store and are immediately drawn to Toast due to the beautiful packaging, which stands out on the shelf along with the custom-designed store displays.”

NEXT: 4 areas where smart packaging excels

#7. 4 areas where smart packaging excels

Packaging aficionado and author Ian Lifshitz sees great potential in near-field communication (NFC) technology for today’s smart packaging to help brands connect with consumers in the store and at home with information, convenience and rewards. Lifshitz, vp of sustainability and stakeholder relations for the Americas for Asia Pulp & Paper Group (APP), identifies these four ways smart packaging can bring value:

1. Content—What more do consumers need or want to know?

2. Replenishment—Is the product almost gone?

3. Expiration—How fresh?

4. Authentication—Is this the real thing?

NEXT: The Millennial Factor: How a generation of consumers is transforming today’s packaging landscape


#6. The Millennial Factor: How a generation of consumers is transforming today’s packaging landscape

The largest and most influential generation in history, millennials wield significant purchasing power. Ideas for how brands can cater to these consumers’ demands for innovation and uniqueness were much appreciated over the last couple years, including back in April 2016 when this article was published.

Author—and a millennial herself—Briana Long of PMMI, The Assn. of Packaging and Processing Technologies, points to five ways brand owners can use packaging to market to a generation attuned to instant gratification:

• Personalization
• Customization
• Affordability
• Branded
• Connected

NEXT: 2016 parade of new packages showcases great design


#5. 2016 parade of new packages showcases great design

For ideas and inspiration, we present all the new packages published on in 2016. This sortable, searchable, downloadable database contains links, photos and summaries of more than 80 packages. From bottles to pouches and cups to cans, these commercialized packages all have a great design story to tell.

[We've already started to compile our 2017 articles in an Excel document for an early-January posting.]

NEXT: Honest Marijuana chooses cans to protect cannabis from light, moisture and oxidation

#4. Honest Marijuana chooses cans to protect cannabis from light, moisture and oxidation

A food-grade tin can is an unusual choice for marijuana buds, but it certainly protects the product from getting crushed, from the damaging effects of light and moisture, and from oxidation. The package—which also has a child-resistant overcap—preserves freshness and maintains product aroma.

Although this article was posted in August 2016, it remains a favorite.

NEXT: Marijuana packaging: Beyond the baggie


#3. Marijuana packaging: Beyond the baggie

This landmark April 2014 article analyzed packaging possibilities for recreational cannabis, which was just emerging as a growth market in Colorado and Washington states, as well as for medical marijuana. Now, seven states and the District of Columbia (D.C.) have legalized recreational use.

We looked at edibles, supply chain, safety, regulations, labeling, graphics, pilferage and more. At the time this was written, freelance writer Kate Bertrand Connolly made two predictions, both of which have subsequently materialized:

“First, the thicket of rules and regulations surrounding marijuana packaging will grow denser. And second, the fledgling cannabis industry will continue to roll out the green carpet for packaging suppliers, designers, advisors and consultants.”

NEXT: The undeniable influence of kids

#2. The undeniable influence of kids

Bill Goodwin, founder of Goodwin Design Group, has many clients who are leading marketers, including Disney, Crayola, Hasbro, Mattel and Toys R Us. So he understands how empowered children are when it comes to making buying decisions for their entire household—and how to leverage that empowerment.

Back in October 2013, Goodwin answered key questions about the influential Generation Z—insight that obviously still resonates with packaging professionals to put this four-year-old article at #2 on our list. In this piece, he outlines:

Why consider kids?
How do kids relate to brands?
What tools should be considered?
Why is transformation required?

Evergreen reading…even as Generation Z reaches adulthood.

NEXT: 5 advances and packaging trends in the beauty universe

#1. 5 advances and packaging trends in the beauty universe

In this highly annotated article, author and marketing/design expert Dr. Pascale Gauthier studies the beauty market to identify five ways it is evolving—and what that means to packaging:

1. Combining form and function—“Design encompasses ease of use and product performance—and it is essential for cosmetics.”

2. Helpful tools—brushes, sponges and other application tools.

3. Crossover ideas—“Packaging from different fields (food, pharmacy) could deliver innovative systems for use with cosmetics.”

4. New movements—from nail art to make-up for hair and new sampling packs.

5. Impact of the digital era—from ecommerce to blogs or “vlogs” (video blogs) that stimulate sales to “click and reserve,” a hybrid trade between physical sales and web.

She concludes, “The cosmetic industry is a real innovative factory always in flux for offering dreams and pleasures to its user, and helping to create an ideal world of beauty. Efficiency should not be forgotten and all the new active products and ingredients, as well as new materials and forms, are perfectly represented in the cosmetic sector.

“Preserving and improving this beauty capital that is so important in our image-centric world is a huge challenge that seems to be brilliantly successful partly because of innovative packaging.”

Much more to come in 2018 on design trends and new packages. Stay tuned.

The top 6 healthcare packaging topics of 2017

The top 6 healthcare packaging topics of 2017
Image source: Shutterstock/marekuliasz

It’s been a busy year for packaging professionals in the pharmaceutical and medical device industries. We’ve seen a number of exciting packaging advances emerge with the potential to transform patient care, and we’ve seen a lot of regulatory activity raise the bar for packaging and labeling. 

Here we count down to the top 6 topics trending in healthcare packaging, according to the most popular articles PMP News published in 2017. We start with the 6th top category . . . 

#6: Inspection

Ensuring package integrity is a top concern for pharmaceutical and medical packaging professionals. Bhaskar Ramakrishnan’s article, “4 options for in-line 100% seal inspection,” examines the potential of integrating machine vision into production lines for 100% non-destructive inspection of seal integrity. It was one of 2017’s top articles. 

Several articles on package testing from past years also attracted attention in 2017. These include “Strength and integrity, part one: The basics of medical package testing” and “Strength and integrity, part two: Basics of seal-strength testing,” both by Stephen Franks, and "Package performance testing conundrum: Solved!" by Patrick Nolan. 

Above image: Example of a Class III medical device seal that contains a hair that is undetectable to the human eye. Image courtesy DWFritz Automation Inc.

NEXT: Product identification

#5: Product identification

With packaging professionals managing Unique Device Identification rules and the now required (yet not enforced) pharmaceutical serialization, it’s no wonder that product identification is our 5th most popular topic in 2017. Our article, “7 Identification technologies on display,” highlighted technologies exhibited at Pack Expo Las Vegas and Healthcare Packaging Expo this past September. 

Another past article was also popular in 2017: "GS1 DataMatrix: FNC1 versus GS as the Variable-Length Field Separator Character" by George Wright IV.

Above image: OPTEL's BottleTracker and NJM Packaging’s TROTTER W. Image courtesy NJM

NEXT: Regulations

#4: Regulations 

As one might expect for highly regulated industries such as pharma and medtech, our 2017 articles on regulatory developments attracted a lot of attention, coming in as our 4th most popular topic in 2017.

Our article, "New medical device regulations could impact packaging—and not just in Europe," recapped the changing regulatory landscape around the world as explained by Thierry Wagner, DuPont’s regulatory affairs director—Europe, Middle East & Africa, in the Webcast, “Speed Up Your Compliance Process—With Help from DuPont Tyvek.” He was joined by cospeaker Nicole Kaller, application & package engineering specialist—Europe, Middle East & Africa, who detailed DuPont’s efforts to help MDMs prepare documentation for their product regulatory submissions and certifications. 

Another popular regulatory story in 2017 examined FDA’s plans for pharmaceutical serialization requirements. Several suppliers working with pharma offered their perspectives in “What does FDA’s DSCSA enforcement delay really mean?

Above image source: Shutterstock/garagestock

NEXT: Compliance packaging and drug-delivery innovation 

#3: Compliance packaging and drug-delivery innovation

Innovations in compliance packaging and drug-delivery devices transformed patient experiences in 2017. Our two articles on respected awards programs this past year attracted attention, propelling the topic of compliance packaging and drug delivery to our 3rd most popular category of 2017. "Compliance-prompting packaging innovation celebrated" showcased the winners of the Healthcare Compliance Packaging Council’s annual completion. And our article "Pharmapack celebrated packaging and drug-delivery innovation during 20th anniversary" shared winning packages offering features for helping patients track doses, verify product security, inject doses safely, and more. 

Above image: The 2016 HCPC Compliance Package of the Year: Merck Zepatier Medication Package from WestRock. Image courtesy HCPC 

NEXT: Staffing

#2: Staffing

A packaging team’s to-do list can be a long one, and extra hands are often needed. Companies may also be operating more leanly these days, so staffing during especially busy periods could be challenging. Our article, “A new approach to staffing a packaging team," presented a new solution from Network Partners. The article was the 2nd most popular published in 2017. 

Above image source: Shutterstock/iQoncept

NEXT: Medical packaging design

#1: Medical Packaging design 

The leading topic on PMP News in 2017 was medical package design. Brian Whalen’s article, "3 steps for designing the ideal medical device packaging system," lead the pack in 2017. Whalen urged professionals to “start packaging design early in the product development process” among other considerations.

Our next popular medical packaging article in 2017, "DuPont launches a new global strategy for medical packaging," explained how DuPont is evolving to support industry trends toward globalization and consolidation. The strategy unfolded as DuPont kicked off its celebration of the 50th anniversary of Tyvek.  

Above image source: CleanCut Technologies LLC 

Editor's note: The most popular topics were chosen based on the number of article page views between January 1, 2017, and December 20, 2017; articles with similar themes were grouped together under certain topics.


Start the New Year off right by planning to attend WestPack and Medical Design & Manufacturing West February 6-8, 2018, in Anaheim. Technology experts will be on hand to address your needs for packaging, advanced manufacturing, testing, regulatory support, and more—all in one location!

Where policy is waning, corporate sustainability goals are soaring

Where policy is waning, corporate sustainability goals are soaring
Major sustainable packaging trends in 2017 include an interest in marine debris, Walmart's Project Gigaton and China's refusal of recyclables.

As I sat down to write this year’s review, I found it hard to decide where to start. Should I stick to sustainability or start with a comment on the fact that this year our progress has been under a cloud created by a president that denies humans are the cause of climate change and promotes coal over alternative energy? The good news is that the private sector and select cities and states are stepping in where our federal government has stepped back. This is happening in support of both environmental and social sustainability challenges.

With regard to sustainable packaging, key global trends continued to shape our space:

• Ocean pollution remains a key concern and could eventually threaten society’s willingness to use plastic materials. Study after study identifies plastic in sea life—from microplastics in mussels along the coast of Norway to plastic in the stomachs of salmon in the Puget Sound. Algae grows on the surface of plastic confusing fish and other creatures into thinking it is food. Universities are working together to create measurement protocols and standards to assess the issue and $150 million has been pledged to help create infrastructure in Asia to keep trash out of the oceans.

• China has embarked on a beautification program that includes tackling a variety of environmental issues. One area covered in the new program is an initiative to develop an internal recycling industry and to stop taking the world’s trash for processing. The U.S. and Europe have been sending #3 through #7 plastics to China for many years. Our discarded materials have been part of the land-based plastics entering the ocean in Asia. This new program in China has disrupted end markets for plastics and mixed paper but will result in improved domestic processing capacity and globally a better end result. It is time that we learned how to manage our own packaging. There is talk of significant investment in cleaning and processing technologies in the U.S. to produce clean pellets for export.

• Voluntary corporate accountability is on the rise. 2017 saw significant new commitments across the board for counting and reducing carbon and increasing recyclability of packaging materials from a diverse group of brand owners. Exceptional programs include Mars pledged of $1 billion to fight climate change and Walmart launched Project Gigaton to remove a gigaton of carbon from its supply chain. I hope that in 2018 companies will develop commitments to use recycled material and help create end markets for all the material that is now recyclable. Target’s new goals include creating more demand for recycled packaging by creating three new end markets for recycled materials by 2020.

California took a step toward creating a mandatory comprehensive policy to manage all packaging in the state. It will include enforceable metrics and goals, and the authority to identify priority packaging and implement a suite of management tools. Plastic films, expanded polystyrene (EPS) and pouches are the first priority materials identified. Policy tools will establish stable funding, minimize generation of materials going to landfill, ensure clean streams and establish consequences. Each material type may be managed differently based on the best selection of policy tools for each material type. Seattle hosted a one-day symposium to explore innovative ideas for materials management beyond the traditional weight-based recycling rate. I believe measurement will be an important topic in 2018 and will include an exploration of the idea that changing how we measure may change and improve our outcomes.

• At the Sustainable Packaging Coalition (SPC) material sourcing took a step forward with the Forest in Focus (FiF) project. FIF is a new platform that uses publically available, scientifically credible data to assess woodbasket sustainability on a landscape level. This new tool will provide visualization in all major sourcing regions in the United States and evaluate risk. The tool is being developed by SPC in partnership with American Forest Foundation (AFF) with more to come in 2018.

• Material health saw a flurry of headlines around perfluorinated and polyfluorinated chemicals (PFCs) used in foodservice packaging for water and grease resistance. There is a growing environmental concern about both short and long chain versions of these chemicals. SPC noticed an increasing interest in restricted substances lists and a desire to learn more about the chemicals used in packaging materials.

• More than 150 organizations backed the call by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation to ban oxo-degradable plastic packaging. SPC supports this and has had a position against these and other similar additives since 2015. A new twist on this type of additive has occurred, promoting the use of additives to make materials more “landfill friendly.” The idea is the additives would enhance degradation in a landfill producing methane that could be captured. The risk to our environment, recycling stream and the jobs provided by recycling is enormous. This idea cannot be allowed to spread.

• The How2Recycle label saw rapid growth in 2017. Members now represent more than 500 major brands and most major retailers. The label will be more important than ever in reducing contamination in the recycling stream—and keeping consumers engaged in recycling. The new How2Recycle Member Platform allows brands and retailers to track, measure and improve the recyclability of their packaging portfolio by giving custom feedback and dynamic analytics on packaging data. ASTRX, a partnership between The Recycling Partnership and SPC, released a document on navigating the recycling stream that helps breakdown where the challenges and opportunities are for moving forward so we can make the future of recycling in America more resilient.

As we look ahead to 2018, we continue to hold true to the belief in the power of industry and innovation to make packaging more sustainable, as well as to advance the field of environmental sustainability to cater to the demands of consumers and to achieve ambitious corporate goals.

Nina Goodrich, director, Sustainable Packaging Coalition, and executive director, GreenBlue, came to GreenBlue with an industry background in R&D, innovation and sustainability strategy. She believes that innovation and sustainability are linked as key drivers for our future.

6 transformational packaging production trends of 2017

6 transformational packaging production trends of 2017
Based on page views throughout 2017, here are the top packaging production trends you and your peers were most interested in.

Industry 4.0, cobots and new processing methods are all revolutionizing today’s packaging operations—and packaging engineers are eager to learn what they can to leverage these technologies. As part of our end-of-the-year review, we’ve identified our top articles of the year related to packaging production, based on page views at

Some articles in our 2017 list were actually posted in earlier years, and show the high value of our coverage of emerging trends, even as they continue to evolve. (It also shows the power our articles wield for search engine optimization/SEO.)

Help us count down the final days of 2017 with a countdown of our top packaging automation articles of the year:


#6. How the 4th industrial revolution will impact packaging, part 1

How will Industry 4.0 impact packaging operations? Environmental advocate and law school graduate Kelly Cramer, now a senior manager at GreenBlue and the Sustainable Packaging Coalition, logically makes her argument in Part 1 of a two-part series:

“The world is changing as we enter the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

“Due in part to changing behaviors and desires, consumption is changing.

“As consumption is changing, the systems of production are also changing.

“Sustainability is a new standard and expectation in production and consumption.

“Because packaging touches all products, and because consumption and production are fundamentally changing, packaging will also fundamentally change.

“The traditional product/packaging system will struggle in the Fourth Industrial Revolution if it doesn’t adapt fast enough to the new demands put on it―but these changes can also set packaging free.”

Among the challenges Cramer sees are ecommerce and dimensional weight shipping. Among the exciting possibilities, she points to product concentrates and high-quality shelf-stable foods thanks to microwave-assisted thermal sterilization (MATS) processing (spoiler alert: more on this to come!).

Read the entire article by clicking the headline link above. Cramer’s Part 2 examines what industry can do about adapting packaging for this next era of production.

NEXT: How much automation do you really need on your packaging line?

#5. How much automation do you really need on your packaging line?

Today, package engineering managers must weigh the need for production flexibility, limited numbers of skilled technicians and other challenges before selecting the type of packaging machinery that will best fit the plant’s needs.

Manufacturers must understand the requirements of their packaging lines before they decide if semi- or fully automated packaging equipment will do the job says Sean Riley, senior director, Media & Industry Communications, for PMMI, The Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies.

Riley explains the differences between semi- and fully-automatic packaging lines, and offers recommendations for when to use them.  

NEXT: HPP putting healthy pressure on conventional processing methods

#4. HPP putting healthy pressure on conventional processing methods

Executives from leading high-pressure processing (HPP) machinery manufacturer Hiperbaric explain why the HPP market, which is estimated to reach $1.1 billion by the end of 2021, is growing so fast.

Key market drivers: “Higher demand for clean-label products and a heavier emphasis on social and environmental responsibility leads to consumers opting for safer, high quality products.”

Most-active product markets: “Juices and drinks and dips and meats are dominating the HPP market.”

Largest growth area: “We expect big growth [in Europe] in 2017 and in Oceania and throughout Asia.”

Packaging requirements: “The packaging design is limited to flexible and waterproof designs, meaning glass, rigid plastics or metals would not work.” [Until Hiperbaric found a way to make even those packages work.]

Constraints due to consumer confusion: “These days, we see more consumers becoming familiar with the technology, especially among the wellness-foods space.

NEXT: What are collaborative robots and why should you care?

#3. What are collaborative robots and why should you care?

Changeover Wizard and packaging machinery guru John R. Henry takes the mystery out of collaborative robots with this highly popular May 2015 article.

In his easy-to-read writing style, Henry tells us what cobots are—and what they’re not.

He also explains the two basic approaches to making cobots safe:

1. “Make the robot inherently safe. If it makes contact with a human co-worker, it immediately stops so that the worker feels no more than a gentle nudge.”

2. “A sensor-based approach allows collaborative use in faster and heavier applications.”

But he goes one step further—because “no discussion of robot safety can ignore the end-of-arm tooling (EOAT)”—to include information about various suppliers of soft grippers/fingers.

Henry concludes: “Robots have come a long way in just the past 10 to 15 years. They used to be expensive, complicated machines that could be a bit scary to work with and required highly skilled technicians. Now they have become almost just another member of the team, working side by side and taking care of the ergonomically hazardous scut work nobody enjoys doing.”

NEXT: How food processing methods affect your packaging operations

#2. How food processing methods affect your packaging options

Different food processing methods place certain demands on packaging that all packaging production professionals need to understand to ensure product safety and plant efficiency.

In this detailed article, posted July 2016, food processing expert Murat Balaban considers the implications of packaging limitations, challenges, opportunities and costs for five thermal and non-thermal processing methods:

• Retort processing;

• Aseptic processing;

• Microwave-assisted thermal sterilization (MATS);

• High- and ultra-high-pressure processing (HPP / UHP); and

• High-intensity light pulse (HILP).

Balaban is professor and retired chair of Food Process Engineering at the University of Auckland in New Zealand. His research and teaching experience in the food processing area covers more than 40 years.

NEXT: Food packaging identified for new MATS processing

#1. Food packaging identified for new MATS processing

Our best-read packaging-production-related article of the year identified—back in June 2015—the potential of an emerging technology called microwave-assisted thermal sterilization (MATS) for food processing, as well as its implications for packaging. Perhaps you saw the potential yourselves, too, of this new thermal processing method that minimizes time-temperature requirements for killing microorganisms, and helps food companies produce healthier, tastier foods and cleaner labels.

Or maybe your interest was piqued when news got out that Amazon is investing in MATS to help push through the ecommerce barrier of refrigerated/frozen grocery delivery.

Matt Raider, COO of 915 Labs, licensee of the technology, explains that packaged food is simultaneously immersed in pressurized hot water and heated directly by 915 megahertz (MHz) frequency microwaves. The process is much shorter (10 to 15 minutes’ time) and gentler than retort, which takes about an hour. Because of its shorter, gentler process, MATS “opens up a whole universe of possibilities for packaging design, including down-gauging materials, reducing barrier materials and using entirely different materials than typical retort applications,” says Raider.

He also told Packaging Digest in September 2017 that commercialization of the technology is progressing: “We have an installed base of MATS systems around the world. The first MATS-made products hit retail shelves in Asia in June and we expect MATS-processed foods to be launched in the U.S. in early 2018.”

Packaging Digest will keep an eye out for updates on these and other key packaging automation and production trends and technologies. Happy reading!


A magic kingdom of packaging solutions: For packaging engineers, executives and designers—WestPack 2018 (Feb. 6-8; Anaheim, CA) delivers leading technologies, free educational presentations, hands-on demonstrations, exceptional networking opportunities and expert-led Innovation Tours. Click here to register now!

How the 4th Industrial Revolution will impact packaging, part 1

How the 4th Industrial Revolution will impact packaging, part 1
The world is changing. It's only logical that packaging production is changing too.

Sustainable packaging strategies will need to adapt to the massive restructuring of the retail industry, a shifting global logistics infrastructure and a changing notion of consumption itself. Kelly Cramer zooms out—way out—to explain why and how industry can reconsider packaging for the next era of production.

[Read "How the 4th Industrial Revolution will impact packaging, part 2" here. ]

The world is changing as we enter the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

You don’t have to look far in the media, or even within your own immediate surroundings, to see that the world is changing by grand leaps―and with haste. Some, such as those at the World Economic Forum, are characterizing the many changes seen in the last few years as the Fourth Industrial Revolution (aka Industry 4.0). Building upon the Third Industrial Revolution of the internet and automation (that is still ongoing), the Fourth Industrial Revolution is marked by advancements that fuse the physical with the digital. Robotics, the Internet of Things (IoT), 3D printing, advanced materials and artificial intelligence are all examples of this. Every industry will be disrupted with a velocity, scope and systems impact that has never been seen before. 

Due in part to changing behaviors and desires, consumption is changing.

Among the areas that will be change by this revolution, and that is already changing before our eyes, is the notion of consumption itself. What people are consuming, how and when they’re consuming it, and where the consumption takes place is changing quickly. The astronomical rise of ecommerce is the most obvious aspect of changing consumption, but there are other compelling changes, including the explosion of subscription products, the success of brands with super-fast production cycles and the growth of the sharing economy.

As a result of these new sales channels and an evolving consumer experience, we’re observing greater customization of products, better accessibility to products, the prioritization of convenience, and more engagement between consumers and brands.

As consumption is changing, the systems of production are also changing.

Due at least in part to these changes in consumption, we’re observing a fundamental restructuring of the retail industry that is in process right now. What’s happening right now isn’t just “American malls have too much real estate vacancy.” Anyone who sells anything―not just the apparel companies or department stores in headlines―will be impacted by the consumption evolution. The idea of what a store is may change considerably in the coming years as shopping becomes more digitized and multidimensional. Like journalism before it, the consumer packaged goods (CPG) industry will likely get “leaner and meaner.”

The shift in the sale of goods to new channels and consumption habits is very much related to the global shift in logistics. The way things move through our world is being optimized, automated and reshuffled. Additionally, manufacturing and supply chains are becoming smarter, more agile and interconnected.

Sustainability is a new standard and expectation in production and consumption.

In addition to systems changing, circular economy and sustainability have become key considerations in the modern business model. The rise of the aspirational consumer (who places high value on environmental responsibility), combined with the disproportionate and unprecedented buying power of the millennial generation (that loves sustainability), means that every day you’re not investing in sustainability you’re losing much longer time down the road to catch up. If you’re able.

Because packaging touches all products, and because consumption and production are fundamentally changing, packaging will also fundamentally change.

Packaging is connected to the sale of all products; it is the common material thread between all things sold. Packaging must first and foremost protect the product. If packaging fails and the product gets damaged, you lose the entire capital, environmental and human investment that went into making that product. Often, the “footprint” of packaging is much less than the actual product itself.

For this reason, studying how the packaging relates to and interacts with the product―or in other words, analyzing “the product/packaging system”―is essential to creating sustainable packaging. A package is well-designed so long as the amount of material used in packaging is enough to protect the product but no more.

The role of packaging in the ecommerce channel enables something much different from packaging than traditional retail does. This past spring at the Sustainable Packaging Coalition’s conference SustPack, Dr. Kim Houchens and Brent Nelson of the Amazon packaging sustainability team explained how products that move through Amazon fulfillment are handled on average 20 times, versus the minimum of five for brick-and-mortar retail. And while the product isn’t handled individually until it reaches the shelf at a brick-and-mortar store, in Amazon fulfillment centers, pallets are broken down into individual units much earlier in the process, and re-aggregated into shipping packages for each unique customer order. And because packaging doesn’t move with a certain side facing up in ecommerce, it means that certain fragile products like liquids sometimes need to be packaged differently to prevent leakage. This shows that you’re hiring packaging to do a very different job in ecommerce than you are for traditional retail.

The traditional product/packaging system will struggle in the Fourth Industrial Revolution if it doesn’t adapt fast enough to the new demands put on it―but these changes can also set packaging free.

One way that the traditional product/packaging system is falling short in ecommerce is in product damage rates. Amazon is encouraging its vendors to think seriously about avoiding product damage, because it creates a terrible customer experience. Specifically, the etailer has worked with ISTA to develop a test to simulate how packaging moves throughout the Amazon fulfillment process. It includes two hours of vibration, 17 simulated edge corner face drops and a leak integrity test.

Amazon has also developed the Frustration-Free Packaging program to encourage brands to package product in a way that doesn’t require an Amazon box, and can be sent direct to the consumer without being repackaged in the fulfilment centers, potentially helping mitigate damage and also helping save materials.

One could argue that traditional retail in some ways holds sustainable packaging back―because of prevailing marketing conventions. Brands want shelf presence, which may mean excess materials to “increase real estate” and flashy labels or inks that could negatively impact recyclability. But as Amazon has emphasized, expensive “romance” packaging isn’t required to draw the consumer’s attention in ecommerce; it’s the product, not the packaging, that is displayed to consumers online when they buy, so the consumer doesn’t need to touch or feel the packaging to make a purchase decision (packaging functionality, however, is still critical for the consumers’ usage experience). Additionally, the need of theft protection no longer being relevant will also help companies use fewer materials.

Another significant challenge to the traditional product/packaging system is the newer dimensional weight pricing rules from the big carriers like UPS and FedEx that will make it significantly more expensive to ship larger volume packaging (air, that is) direct to the consumer. Changing logistics costs will add complexity to the product/packaging system, but overcoming these challenges will provide significant carbon benefits. In this sense, packaging sustainability will be more tied to logistics sustainability than before.

Another interesting possibility is when and if the need for more sustainable packaging and the cost of logistics ends up changing the products themselves. One classic example is movement toward concentrates to avoid shipping water, but we’re seeing flashes of an exciting new horizon with Amazon’s plunge into microwave assisted thermal sterilization (MATS). We may not need into ship ice packs if, in the future, we’re eating more food that doesn’t require refrigeration. Packaging will be at the forefront as processing technologies, changes to the products themselves and the tightening of logistics efficiencies dramatically reconfigure the product/packaging/process system.

Part 2 of this series will examine what industry can do about adapting packaging for this next era of production.

Kelly Cramer is a senior manager at GreenBlue and the Sustainable Packaging Coalition, where she leads one of its fastest growing projects, the How2Recycle Label program. She comes to GreenBlue with a background in public interest advocacy and a J.D. in Environmental Law from Lewis & Clark Law School in Portland, OR, as well as a deep passion for writing and design.


Learn about the latest developments in sustainable packaging at MinnPack 2017 (Nov. 8-9; Minneapolis). Register today!

Dual-ovenable hybrid food tray is MAP ready

Dual-ovenable hybrid food tray is MAP ready
Direct-printed, paper-based dual-ovenable tray for MAP foods is available in 20 sizes.

First paper-based modified atmosphere packaging food tray in U.S. uses plastic coatings for barrier and shelf life, withstands frozen distribution and reheating in conventional and microwave ovens.

Retail and foodservice brands have a new food packaging option: The DeLight paper-based tray with modified atmosphere packaging-level barrier protection. It’s also a source-reduced alternative to traditional boxed plastic tray packaging for frozen foods and allows direct on-tray printing for a heightened presence in any outlet retail or otherwise.

The tray is supplied by sustainable food packaging-driven thermoformer PinnPACK, which acquired the rights as the exclusive North American manufacturer and distributor of DeLight Ltd.'s first-of-its-kind hybrid tray that’s made using renewable paper sources enhanced with plastic polymers.

Compared to current pressed paperboard products, the DeLight tray provides improved sealability and value-added functionality as the first MAP-capable paper-based tray. In addition to its barrier properties, the tray withstands frozen distribution and microwave or conventional oven reheating.

Jason Farahnik, director of the new PinnPACK division in Oxnard, CA, tells Packaging Digest “our DeLight tray is unique in that it is the first dual ovenable, freezer safe paper based tray that is also suitable for MAP applications. Additionally, it’s our belief that brands want a stronger way of expressing themselves. The marketing possibilities with DeLight are endless as we are able to print photo-resolution imagery directly on the tray, which is currently not possible with the CPET (crystallized PET) and polypropylene trays that dominate this space.”

Recycled content, 20 SKUs available

The paperboard is specially coated with a formulated PET or PP depending on the application. “We offer trays with recycled content,” he adds.

PinnPACK has more than 20 production-ready DeLight SKUs available and the company continues to add new tooling based on customer demand, PD has learned. Standard sizes range from 8oz to 54oz along with a specialty 100-oz foodservice tray.

"Our customer base is extremely excited about this offering,” Farahnik says, “beyond the fact that this expands our portfolio, allowing us the ability to become a full-spectrum provider of food packaging that permits our customers to differentiate themselves. There are commercial DeLight customers currently in Europe and Australia. For the U.S., we only recently acquired the rights and have brought the package to our sales force and customer base. Many are excited about this and have begun testing.”

The breakthrough format continues a tradition at the forward-thinking company, which has been an innovator in packaging for produce and bakery items, highlighted by its use of post-consumer recycled PET (rPET). It is a subsidiary of CarbonLITE, the world's largest bottle-to-bottle recycling company, which recycles more than four billion plastic bottles annually.

"It's important for us to approach the issue of sustainability head on to help preserve natural resources,” Farahnik explains. “By using DeLight, customers are able to reduce their overall packaging requirements. The ability to print high-quality images directly on the tray eliminates the need for carton sleeves and boxes, a significant value proposition moving forward."

For more information visit To inquire further about the DeLight hybrid foodservice tray, email Jason Farahnik at [email protected].


Hungry for packaging information and ideas? You’ll find that and a whole lot more served up in generous portions during WestPack in Anaheim, CA, February 6-8, 2018. For more information, visit WestPack.


7 ecommerce packaging developments that rocked 2017

7 ecommerce packaging developments that rocked 2017
Our global audience of packaging professionals found our coverage of ecommerce packaging trends and developments prime reading in 2017.

Yes, Amazon made news this year—more than once—for its leadership in ecommerce and packaging. But sustainability challenges and packaging strategies for this flourishing market also captured your attention in 2017.

Continuing our review of the year’s top articles on based on page views, we now focus on packaging for online sales, which Deloitte predicts will exceed in-store sales this holiday season for the first time. Why does that matter to packaging departments? Some 65% of respondents to a Packaging Digest poll say ecommerce is either partially or fully integrated into their core business—meaning it’s also their responsibility. Ecommerce—and its impact on packaging—matters.

Here is a countdown of the top seven articles about ecommerce packaging posted this year:

#7. What best practices for ecommerce packaging are emerging?

Packaging Digest conducted the poll mentioned above during our highly successful July webinar “Ecommerce Packaging: A Step-by-Step Guide to Getting it Right from the Start.” (If you missed it, you can still watch it on-demand by clicking the link.)

To get a sense of where the industry currently is, during the 1-hour event, we asked participants to answer two burning questions:

1. Is there a standard transit test packaging departments are using for their ecommerce shipments?

2. Are most companies integrating their growing ecommerce enterprise with their brick-and-mortar business?

We’ve already spilled the beans on the second question: Yes, about two-thirds of respondents say they are integrating ecommerce into their core businesses.

Results to the first question, however, revealed that there isn’t a transit test that stands out as the “standard” yet (see chart above). Perhaps that will change as time goes on.

NEXT: Why you now need a strategy for ecommerce packaging

#6. Why you now need a strategy for ecommerce packaging

We think it’s pretty obvious that packaging professionals need a strategy for ecommerce packaging. But back in March 2017, we still laid out the reasons in case you need to articulate them in an action plan.

Article author and packaging consultant Phil McKiernan, now with PTIS Global, explains that standards don’t exist yet and that “many companies are still assessing if the ecommerce service model should be managed by internal resources or if they should be seeking a co-packing or partner provider to take over this growing segment.”

As the previous article in this list shows, by July (a mere four months later), the majority of companies responding to our webinar poll had decided to keep ecommerce packaging in-house. Shows you how fast this segment is evolving—by necessity.

Before setting a strategy, “companies should look for non-traditional collaborations to determine industry challenges, options in manufacturing and varied channel outlets,” McKiernan says.

He also advises you to consider where your labor, processing, third-party partnerships, equipment and technology assets are headed in the next five to 10 years. According to McKiernan, being prepared now will let you “explore your options before you’re in a position where you don’t have any.”

NEXT: What ecommerce packaging is going to look like in 2018

#5. What ecommerce packaging is going to look like in 2018

Even before we started looking back at this year’s trends and developments, Packaging Digest began predicting what changes we may see in the New Year, courtesy of ecommerce blogger Victoria Greene. She points to these five trends:

1. Frustration-free CPEX (Customer Packaging Experience), courtesy of ecommerce titan Amazon.

2. Unique design features, functional or purely decorative, to also enhance the user experience.

3. Big Data design optimization, which could help with organization and efficiency in large fulfillment warehouses.

4. Personalized packaging, to improve the brand’s relationship with consumers.

5. Sustainable and/or reusable materials, to answer consumer demand for environmentally friendly packaging.

NEXT: How ecommerce can go green with flexible packaging

#4. How ecommerce can go green with flexible packaging

Boxes, schloxes. Why use all that costly corrugated packaging when a padded envelope will do?

As long as product protection remains key, flexible packaging offers several benefits, according to author Mark Brogan from Printpack, a privately held manufacturer of flexible and specialty rigid packaging.

“Flexible packaging’s unique attributes can provide opportunities to tackle some of ecommerce’s largest sustainability challenges,” Brogan says. “A brand can reduce its waste and carbon footprint, and increase shipping volumes and shelf life—while consumers pay less for shipping.”

NEXT: What Amazon buying Whole Foods might do for ecommerce packaging

#3. What Amazon buying Whole Foods might do for ecommerce packaging

Dr. Seuss might say that Amazon wants consumers to get their green eggs, ham and other groceries here, there and everywhere. He might not be wrong. Packaging Digest asked retail and business experts to analyze the Amazon/Whole Foods deal, with an eye on possible implications for product packaging. Here are a few of their keen insights:

“Amazon will likely benefit from Whole Foods’ focus on environmentally friendly initiatives—such as reusable shopping bags and eco-friendly products—in regards to delivery methods and packaging,” intuits Dan Wilkinson, chief commercial officer, 1WorldSync.

Scott Deutsch, president, Ehrhardt + Partner, North America, points out that, “Since products will all be local, delivery routes will enable less traditional box packaging.”

“At the heart of this acquisition is Amazon’s pursuit of a richer and deeper experience with its customers,” says Stephen Kaufman, chief product officer, BLUE Software.

Click the link in the headline above to read all the theories on this landmark deal from these experts.

NEXT: The sustainability of ecommerce packaging is in question

#2. The sustainability of ecommerce packaging is in question

The ecommerce channel presents unique challenges around packaging sustainability and optimization, which were outlined in a new whitepaper from environmental and policy packaging group Ameripen (see chart above). But the obstacles can be overcome.

The whitepaper offers these key conclusions:

• “[O]ptimizing packaging for ecommerce may very well look different than design for traditional retail, due to the different demands of the respective distribution chains.”

• “Opportunities to invest in further development of the packaging supply chain for ecommerce and subsequently omni-commerce scan the breadth of distribution channel and solutions will come only through industry collaboration and transparency.”

NEXT: Amazon on creating ecommerce packaging that’s great for all: customers, companies and the environment

#1. Amazon on creating ecommerce packaging that’s great for all: customers, companies and the environment

Not only did this exclusive interview with Brent Nelson, Amazon’s senior manager, worldwide packaging, Customer Packaging Experience (CPEX), vault to the top of our list of ecommerce-related articles of the year—it tops the list of all the articles we posted in 2017.

Here are the questions Nelson answers:

• How important is packaging sustainability to Amazon and why?

• What are the challenges you’re seeing in ecommerce packaging and sustainability, and why?

• How can these challenges be solved or overcome?

 • Are the packaging design tips you’ll be sharing with the SustPack audience ones Amazon follows or are they what you expect your vendors to follow? Are the company’s packaging expectations different for its own products versus products other vendors sell on the site?

Packaging Digest recently wrote about a new whitepaper from Ameripen, titled “Optimizing Packaging for an E-commerce World.” Ameripen concluded that “[O]ptimizing packaging for ecommerce may very well look different than design for traditional retail, due to the different demands of the respective distribution chains.” What do you think?

• In many product categories, brand owners have switched from rigid to flexible packaging for a variety of reasons, sustainability being one of them. Do you anticipate similar interest and activity with flexible packaging for ecommerce?

• In the small-parcel shipping environment of ecommerce, the dimensional weight cost structure is causing product manufacturers to rethink their shipments for “right-sizing.” How does dim weight enter into your suggestions for how to design packaging for ecommerce?

• Much has been said in the last couple years about the popularity of “unboxing” videos and heightening the consumer’s experience with ecommerce packaging. What does Amazon do with its packaging to elevate the consumer’s experience?

• Brent, you’ll be presenting at SustPack with your colleague Kim Houchens, director of worldwide packaging sustainability. How do your two perspectives differ and why?

• What main takeaway would you like conference attendees to remember from your speech?

Prime reading—Enjoy!


A magic kingdom of packaging solutions: For packaging engineers, executives and designers—WestPack 2018 (Feb. 6-8; Anaheim, CA) delivers leading technologies, free educational presentations, hands-on demonstrations, exceptional networking opportunities and expert-led Innovation Tours. Click here to register now!

Starbucks v. Dunkin’: Iced coffee looks ‘premium’ in glass

Starbucks v. Dunkin’: Iced coffee looks ‘premium’ in glass
For Iced Coffee, Starbucks glass bottle beat out Dunkin' Donuts plastic one.

By a margin of more than two to one, respondents in our latest Who Wore It Better poll for Iced Coffee voted for Starbucks classic glass bottle over the shatter-resistant plastic container used by competitor Dunkin’ Donuts. Many said it was because the Starbucks bottle projected a high-quality look, even though some admitted they prefer the taste of Dunkin’.

More than 70 people voted in our poll, which Packaging Digest conducted this November and December. Almost immediately (after about 20 people had voted), the percentages emerged at two-thirds to one-third and barely registered any sway through to the end when we closed the poll at 69% for Starbucks and 31% for Dunkin' Donuts.

Both products are sold in single-serve containers. To help respondents make their decision, we described the packages and showed photos of the front, side, back and top (see the photos on page 2).

Starbucks is a glass bottle with a round base and squared off sides, transparent pressure-sensitive film labels on the front and back, and a metal vacuum closure with a printed tamper-evident neck bank.

Dunkin’ Donuts is a round polyethylene terephthalate (PET) container with a full-body shrink sleeve label that extends above the polypropylene closure to provide tamper evidence.

The tops of the closures were photographed and presented with the front label facing front to show how they were (or weren’t, actually) oriented.

In the side-by-side photo (above), you can see that the Starbucks container is slightly taller, even though the contents are the same in both bottles: 13.7 fluid ounces.

NEXT: Here’s why they picked what they did…

We also asked respondents to tell us why they picked the package they did. This helps us gain insight into what they see—as packaging professionals and as consumers themselves.

Why Starbucks?

The people who selected the Starbucks bottle talked about overall impression, the material, the graphics and the bottle’s shape/size.

Overall impression:

“Much more premium look.”

“The Starbucks package is a far classier design, AND it is almost completely recyclable!”

“Smoother more luxurious bottle. Less graphics. Overall the bottle makes the product appear richer. The Dunkin’ bottle looks more like a soda bottle, which makes my mind think the product is not as much of a premium product even though I prefer the taste of the DD brand.”

“More upscale. DD looks lower quality product.”

“Better design, better branding, high value perceived in Starbuck name and design.”

“Bottle makes the product look more expensive. The dark brown colors of the label goes well with an iced coffee product.”

The material:

“Like glass container.”

“Glass will always ‘look’ better!”

“Even though I prefer DD coffee over SB, I prefer the cleanness of glass over plastic for taste and style.”

The graphics:

“Simpler, more sophisticated graphics.”

“Dunkin’ made a couple little design mistakes. Starbucks is laser focused on selling.”

“Because it showcases the product better. The DD white band is distracting.”

The bottle’s shape/size:

“Size impression.”

“Looks like I’m buying more product…bigger bottle.”

“The shape of the bottle is more attractive. DD bottle has a look of a spice & herb bottle.”

“Shape of the bottle.”

“Sleeker image due to bottle shape. Simpler, relaxing design lets coffee advertise itself due to minimal graphics and minor copy size on label.”

And this respondent takes a broader view of the design, even taking production efficiencies into the equation: “From a consumer standpoint, Starbucks has a better visual appeal. From a manufacturer’s perspective, it would be Dunkin’ Donuts (material, costs, distribution, etc.).”

Why Dunkin’?

Respondents who picked the Dunkin’ Donuts package mainly cited functionality and clarity:

“Shatter resistant, lower thermal conductivity of PET, lighter, fits cup holder in car better (less topsy turvy).”

“The brand is more visible and it seems a bit more obvious on what the contents are—ICED Coffee.”

“Nutrition facts are more clearly presented; all surfaces are used—brand is displayed prominently.”

“Recyclability & functionality.”

“Better look. Better shrink sleeve application. Easier to read text because they used white text over a brown background.”

“Interesting shape of container. This shape is more difficult to shrink the label on it, but label fits better. Nice colors. I want to drink it.”

“More contour. Less plain.”

This respondent analyzes the sustainability aspects: “Glass packaging is perceived to be environmentally beneficial primarily due to its value in the recycling stream. The energy that goes into making a glass bottle and the added weight in distribution is not captured. Unfortunately, consumers don’t want to know the facts and wouldn’t believe them if they contradicted their belief. And what about the metal cap vs. a plastic closure? Another misconception.”

Read our earlier Who Wore It Better articles:

"Strong packaging graphics also need 'context'"

"Shoppability, easy-pour key to olive oil packaging design"

Do you wonder how your peers would rate your package design versus a competitor’s? If you have a suggestion for a “Who Wore It Better” poll, reach out to me at [email protected] or call 630-481-1422.

Bottle adapter

Bottle adapter
The new Delta Adapter permits companies to adapt screw-thread caps to snap-on bottles and is compatible with all of the co.’s Delta bottles. It is easily fitted and converts just about any compatible snap-on bottleneck to a standard screw thread. A


The new Delta Adapter permits companies to adapt screw-thread caps to snap-on bottles and is compatible with all of the co.’s Delta bottles. It is easily fitted and converts just about any compatible snap-on bottleneck to a standard screw thread. A dispenser can then be added to an existing bottle range without any additional tooling costs.The new Delta Adapter permits companies to adapt screw-thread caps to snap-on bottles and is compatible with all of the co.'s Delta bottles. It is easily fitted and converts just about any compatible snap-on bottleneck to a standard screw thread. A dispenser can then be added to an existing bottle range without any additional tooling costs.

SHB Packaging (Weber), 450/455-0169.



7 best-read food and beverage packaging articles of 2017

7 best-read food and beverage packaging articles of 2017
Among our top selections you'll find packaging that's smart, unique, innovative and very popular with readers.

Our ‘bestselling’ articles of the year identify three CPG brands, Frito-Lay, Green Giant and Mondelez, one retailer, Costco, two trend features and an atypical BIB package that readers found to be the most compelling food and beverage content posted here in 2017.

If you’re an avid reader like me, you sometimes look to the bestseller lists to see what books are hot nationally and which of those may spark interest for you, too.

That’s what we have in mind with our annual compilation of the best-read articles published at over the past year. It’s our data-driven way to share with you the content that’s must-read with your peers in food and beverage packaging and likely deserving of your attention, too.

We’ve condensed our comprehensive list to Packaging Digest’s 7 Bestsellers that achieved a particular high-benchmark status making them worthy of special recognition.

We’ll kick things off with a fascinating piece that teams up football, snacks and consumer-engaging smart packaging from Frito-Lay equipped with LED lights and sensors.

Sounds like a heady proposition, but that’s what the snacks brand delivered when it distributed Tostitos bags with built-in alcohol sensors at select Super Bowl LI events and parties on the day of the big game. It’s worth noting that the championship football game is typically one of the worst days of the year for impaired driving. The Party Safe bag permitted football fans who have imbibed to summon an Uber ride with the tap of a smartphone, thanks to near-field communication (NFC) technology also incorporated into the bag. Frito-Lay conducted the promotion with Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD).

Albeit a limited promotion, the application clearly demonstrates the power of packaging to directly increase consumer safety. I’d say the brand scored a marketing touchdown and may even have saved a life or two, that’s an MVP performance by any measure.

Brand power continues in a Giant way with #6…


Hungry for packaging information and ideas? You’ll find that and a whole lot more served up in generous portions during WestPack in Anaheim, CA, February 6-8, 2018. For more information, visit WestPack.



#6 Highly popular all-in-one printer-copier-scanners conveniently bundle those crucial functions into a single machine. What does that have to do with food packaging?

Well, what if you could have an all-in-one package that combines a bowl, carton and tray in a single flexible packaging format? And better yet, what if it could be run on form/fill/seal machinery?

Brand owner B&G Foods and vendor Sonoco Flexible Packaging co-developed the breakthrough PrimaPak bowl/bag/carton/tray packaging for the launch of an equally unique product, Green Giant Veggie Spirals.

While this was not the first PrimaPak that’s been commercialized, the previous launch early in 2017 was a much more straightforward version for Perfetti Mentos flavored mints. Green Giant’s requirements for the first frozen food using the format and in a microwavable structure were a far more stringent and challenging one, and definitely an inventive new twist in the category.

Jordan Greenberg, vp of Green Giant, and Roman Forowycz, CMO of supplier Sonoco Elk Grove (formerly Clear Lam Packaging, Inc.), answered all of Packaging Digest’s many questions about the innovative packaging that you can read here.

Next: Why did this bag-in-box packaging draw so much attention?

#5 While the name doesn’t quite pack the impact of our first two brands, Water Event has a lofty goal: it wants water to take its place among wine, tea and other beverages sold in bag-in-box (BIB) packaging.

The Carrollton, TX, company distributes AquaViBox water in 10-, 15- and 20-liter single-use packages that comprise a corrugated outer box with an ethylene vinyl alcohol (EVOH) bag. The water tap, branded Vitop, is supplied and converted along with the rest of the bag components by Smurfit Kappa. In addition to converting the package, Smurfit Kappa contributed a significant advance to the product’s viability that separates it from the rest of the BIB pack: an adapter that allows AquaViBox to be used in almost all water coolers. The adapter was ready for the market in 2015, and Water Event launched AquaViBox in September 2016, the first commercial launch of bag-in-box water in the United States, according to Clark.

Thirsty for more details? You can read the full story here.

This “mobile” trends feature sizzled…

4. This post is really the story of a wildly successful article that begat another wildly successful story. That first story appears higher atop our list, but to get there we first present its more recent “offspring.”

It came about when I learned that the first article’s contact spun-off a standalone design website devoted to food and beverage packaging, Shelf. It served as a re-entry point for us to again tap principal Justin Johnson’s expertise, only this time rather than the initial case study he identifies emerging design drivers from a big-picture perspective. Johnson advises brands to tell their product’s story simply and immediately through the packaging design to connect with today’s mobile-savvy consumer.

He also shared this clever analogy: “Shopping in a supermarket is like speed dating, it’s quick and shallow with lots of choices, but once you find someone to ask out for dinner you can have deeper, more meaningful conversations and really strengthen that bond/relationship. Getting the product at home is more like going straight to the one-on-one relationship.”

He also answers the burning question: “What’s the biggest challenge in the food & beverage market?” and two other questions we’d posed, all of which you can read for yourself in the 3 sizzling design trends in food and beverage packaging

Major CPG manager divulges snacks trends and the packaging implications…


Hungry for packaging information and ideas? You’ll find that and a whole lot more served up in generous portions during WestPack in Anaheim, CA, February 6-8, 2018. For more information, visit WestPack.


#3. We struck brand-driven gold again with this trends piece that turned loose the creatively insightful perspective of Gil Horsky, global innovation head from chocolate, biscuit, candy and gum brands powerhouse Mondelēz Intl.  who identifies four key subtrends in the snacks market:

1. Mission Nutrition: From the addition of functional ingredients to catering for health conditions and intolerances, snack companies must meet consumers’ wellness agenda.

2. Pure Pleasure: From chocolate inhalers to lollipop cakes, clever producers are turning “snacks” into “experiences” that enliven and enrich.

3. Social Snacks: Consumers don’t want to snack alone. Sharing and personalization can turn snacking into a social activity.

4. Instant Everywhere: Buy-on-the-go lifestyles demand new retail and vending formats that make snack buying instant, affordable and fun.

C’mon, chocolate that you breathe in? And chewable coffee cubes, really? Yes, really; read about these and more in 4 snacking trends and their packaging implications

Next: Two features with amazing “shelf life” top our list.


At the top of our bestseller list we reach the lofty “evergreen” portion of our coverage, a term we use for older articles that have amazing stamina in continuing to draw reader interest many months after they have been published. Such is the case for the Top 2 most-read articles of 2017, starting with the runner-up that resonated as much with readers this past year as it did when posted in May 2016.

It’s a trends piece, but obviously one whose focus on only the fast-moving trends in food and beverages struck a nerve with the audience for packaging’s largest market segment. One of those trends is Personalization. Mintel’s global packaging director David Luttenberger explains that “there’s a parallel path between brands striving to engage customers on a more personal level and consumers’ expectations for packaging to deliver that experience.”  Technological advancements help drive the surge of personalization.

The second trend identified as for Cleaner and clearer labeling, wherein consumers are demanding that the labeling on their food and drinks packaging is clear and concise. When trying to choose which products to buy, consumers don’t want packaging to be overloaded with messages; they want the most important information—such as ingredients and nutritional value, function and safety—to be communicated to them in ways that are visibly clear and easy to understand so that they can make informed purchasing without confusion. More information on these and two more trends can be found in 4 fast-moving trends in food and beverage packaging.

And now we present the #1 "bestselling" article of 2017 as measured by readership numbers, another of Packaging Digest’s evergreen features, this one that continues to collect solid interest monthly since it was posted in April 2016. It was our interview with Justin Johnson, principal of More Branding, a design agency, in a feature  article that centered on the firm’s design work for Delici, a high-end dessert in premium packaging sold exclusively at Costco. The chilled product is a beautifully layered and luxuriously presented single-serve dessert glass. Johnson said the visual beauty of the dessert flavors drove the engineering and design of the package.

Upscale meant that the design team atypically chose heavyweight glass cups. “Those have been a huge factor in the success of this product,” Johnson said. “Real glass gives the product a high-end feel, they are reusable and it gives the package an unexpected weightiness.”

Other packaging components include a plastic lid that seals each cup, a 6-pack thermoformed plastic tray and a glossy, “perfect tolerance/tension-tight product sleeve with heavy varnish.”

The result was a deftly-executed packaging design that delivered the goods for Costco and its customers told through an article that delivered the editorial goods to broad-based and attentive audience. The entire success story is served up in Decadent Delici dessert packaging designed for Costco.

Because you’ve read this far, we offer you a special preview teaser of a coming attraction: Johnson has created another upscale package with a decidely unique format that we’ll be presenting in early 2018. 

Lastly, we offer a toast of thanks to all the brands, companies and managers in 2017 who gave up their time and information to work with us in a way that cumulatively benefits the packaging community. We also look forward to another year of exciting packaging developments, so cheers to all for a prosperous and innovative 2018!


Hungry for packaging information and ideas? You’ll find that and a whole lot more served up in generous portions during WestPack in Anaheim, CA, February 6-8, 2018. For more information, visit WestPack.