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Viewpoint: Time and time again

Milestones...When they happen, you're supposed to pause, acknowledge and reflect, right? Who in our run-like-crazy-all-the-time world has time for that?!

We do.

Welcome to Packaging Digest's special 50th Anniversary issue. We're proud to have served as the Voice of the Packaging Community for these last five decades. 

We've been through a lot together:
• The revolutionary 1960s saw convenient boil-in-bag packs for shelf-stable and frozen foods; a meteoric rise of rigid plastic containers; and the beginnings of packaging's regulatory challenges, with the passing of the Federal Hazardous Substances Labeling Act in 1960 and the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act in 1966.

• In the disco-era 1970s, the first Earth Day celebration in 1970 vilified packaging as a major cause of environmental harm; UPC codes debuted in 1973 (check out Industry Insights on p.66 for the next generation of this ubiquitous and flexible technology for omni-channel retailing); stark black-and-white "generic" packaging dominated many store brands; and beverage cans converted to stay-on tabs.

• The Tylenol tamperings in 1982 rallied the packaging industry to develop tamper-evident features for all types of products, not just over-the-counter pharmaceuticals, and ushered in a new era of consumer assurance and product safety. Quality control departments investigated and authorized more automated inspection on packaging lines, including newer machine vision technology.

• In 1996, as Baby Boomers began turning 50, they fixated on health and wellness issues. Nutrition Facts labeling became required reading for many (even if it meant putting on glasses to see the small print!) and sales of single-serve water bottles soared.

• The new millennium dawned with nary a Y2K hiccup. And then, disaster struck. Were you at Pack Expo Las Vegas on 9-11, like I was? I remember going back to my hotel room that afternoon to watch the news coverage, huddled on my bed, wrapped in blankets, shivering despite the 90-deg temperature outside and numb. Later in the decade, the other shoe dropped when the Great Recession rocked our world. Consumers reconsidered their consumption excesses and craved simplicity. Backyard gardens flourished, and minimal graphics and value packs resonated with savvy shoppers.

Definitive moments like these frame our past. But wait, there's more! We invited packaging professionals to submit stories from their own careers and we received some good ones. You can read entertaining chronicles from those on the front lines at 

As much fun as it is to reminisce, it's also wise to look ahead and prepare for what's coming. But, hmmm, what will that be? More than a dozen people share their predictions on p.34. Time will tell which ones come to fruition.

I'm going to make a prediction, too: Our new senior digital content editor, Kari Embree, will be a big hit with our audience and clients. Come by our booth #S-6126 at Pack Expo on Tues., Sept. 24, at 3 p.m. for a meet-and-greet session and see for yourself.

Thanks for helping us celebrate our 50th. Moving forward, how can we better serve you to help you reach your next packaging milestones?




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