5 food and drink packaging trends for 2016

  • By Chris Thorpe
  • January 04, 2016
  • Beverage
  • Bottle Labels
  • Carton
  • PET
  • Sleeve
  • Food
  • Convenience food
  • Seafood, Meat, Poultry
  • Confectionery
  • Snacks
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2015 was another year of richly creative product packaging. But what trends will drive the packaging industry in 2016?

A brief history of food and drink packaging:

1809 - The first metal can is invented;

1951 - The Tetra Pak bursts onto the scene;

2015 - Brands big and small unleash their creative side.

As for 2016? Packaging designs will be driven by these five trends.

1. Eye-popping creativity

Packaging is a critical element of product marketing. And just like any other form of marketing, it’s coloured by consumer tastes. 2015 saw a huge surge in demand for artisanal products - or products that claimed to be - as consumers searched beyond the middle ground, for either authenticity and quality or real cost savings and convenience.

Eager to leap off the shop shelf and show some attitude, small scale manufacturers opted for spectacularly eye-catching packaging designs. This trend will flow (and grow) into 2016. Artisan producers will look to printers for design advice - not just printing consultancy and production - as packaging becomes less of a simple container and more of a blank canvas.

Printers must offer the latest technologies if they are to cash in on the trend. Varnish, foils, raised print effects, textured labelling and die cutting will be in increasing demand. You could even see   mainstream emergence of electrical circuitry into premium-brand food and drink packaging - offering, for example, the capability for labels that illuminate when they detect motion.

Either way, the rejection of singular, rigid corporate branding as we know it has begun. The global megabrands of this world are reacting. We have already seen Coca-Cola’s Share A Coke With... variable printing campaign and Christmas ribbon label. Snickers got in on the act too. Then there was Absolut Vodka’s stunning Unique Edition collection. Expect more innovation in 2016 as global brands play catch up with the artisan manufacturers that stole their thunder in 2015.

2. Packaging that gets personal

Technology has conspired to make personalised printing easier than ever before. As such 2015 saw the emergence of everything from personalised chocolates to personalised beer labels. Giving your customers the chance to personalise a product has the potential to spur a whole new source of revenue for manufacturers. And you don’t need to have a high volume, high turnover product to make variable printing cost-effective.

Step forward ASQ Labels, a Belgian printing company specialising in the food and drink sector. They incorporated technology that enabled breweries to offer personalised bottles of beer to their consumers. Print runs were limited. Yet today - as personalisation grows in popularity - they have opened up an entirely new market that would have otherwise been off-limits. With the increased penetration of digital ink jet colour label presses into traditional flexo printing businesses, expect personalised packaging to grow in 2016.

3. Even more digitisation

As we have discussed, variable printing is on the up. And so are the number of products associated with small-batch, artisanal producers. Net result? It’s crucial to invest in technology that has the speed and flexibility to manage a greater number of shorter print runs. Today’s most advanced printing presses promise productivity, scalpel-sharp UV inkjet quality and consistent print results. It’s also possible to incorporate screen and foiling modules too - giving you the flexibility to meet changes in demands both now and in the future.

4. Increased focus on eco-friendly packaging

Sustainable packaging that’s kinder to Mother Nature will increase in 2016, driven by consumers who are becoming increasingly eco-aware. In July 2015 Tetra Pak ran an environmental survey that encompassed 6,000 consumers in 12 countries. More than three-quarters of respondents stated that eco-friendly packaging influences the brand they buy. For manufacturers it means planet-friendly packaging is no longer a case of hitting CSR, it’s business-critical.

5. Merging print and digital as a marker of quality

Food fraud is an £11.2 billion problem in the UK alone. Each year millions of consumers are tricked into buying counterfeited food and beverages. It poses a serious health risk and can hurt brand reputation. In 2016 the industry will ante up in the fight against fraudsters. A recent report by Allied Market Research has predicted anti-counterfeit packaging for the food and beverage sector to grow 16% per year to 2020. Expect increased use of technologies such as radiofrequency identification (RFID), holograms and the latest barcode technologies - especially in the wine and spirits sectors.

Are you ready to produce the packaging of tomorrow?

Printing technology is moving faster than ever before, reframing what is possible to achieve with packaging. There’s an important opportunity available for manufacturers and marketers to innovate, drawing in consumers with creative, versatile packaging that looks irresistible to the end consumer. Businesses must also think about how they prove the authenticity and quality of their products with the latest track-and-trace technologies. Not least because consumers are increasingly alert to the issues surrounding provenance and counterfeits. Are you ready for the challenge?

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