Packaging in the food and beverage industry is arguably just as important as the contents inside. The packaging is often the first thing that catches the consumers eye, so it needs to stand out. Alongside this, it also protects products that are being shipped across long distances and helps to prolong the shelf life of fresh produce, which in turn decreases food waste.

With increased concern for sustainability and clean label products, as well as technological developments ever-changing, the packaging industry has seen a lot of change in the past year.

With that in mind, what does the future hold for the food and beverage packaging industry? Our partner, FoodBev predicts the top packaging trends for 2020.

Sustainability

One of the most significant trends sweeping the whole of the food and beverage industry in 2019 was Sustainable Packagingsustainability. There is no doubt that this trend will continue to grow in relevance during  2020 as consumers become more and more environmentally aware.  

This year we have seen many food brands, both big and small-scale, commit to 100% recyclable materials for its products’ packaging. For example, this year we have seen Fonterra pledge to make all its packaging recyclable, reusable or compostable by 2025 and Bel UK release its Leerdammer original and light cheese slices in 100% recyclable packaging.

Consumer concern about plastics has grown a considerable amount within the past year and whilst utilising recyclable materials for packaging is one way to tackle these concerns, some companies are taking it one step further by ensuring its packaging is made from biodegradable or compostable materials. A couple of examples include Qualvis’ fully compostable packaging for its vegan chocolate and Fazer and Sulapac’s collaboration to create a compostable, microplastics-free box for Fazer’s handmade pralines.

But how can food brands take zero-waste to the next level? We predict that 2020 will see a substantial increase in edible packaging. We have already seen edible wrappers being used for various foods, often made from materials such as rice paper, seaweed or potato and this is set to grow even further with companies experimenting with even more edible materials. Recently, Air New Zealand partnered with twiice to trial edible coffee cups both on flights and on the ground, with the aim of reducing its use of single-use coffee cups.

Due to a growing number of companies taking conscious steps through recyclable materials, compostable materials or even edible packaging solutions, we will certainly see more sustainable options and less single-use materials emerge in 2020. This, alongside sustainable production and manufacturing methods, makes sustainable packaging the most significant food packaging industry trend for the new year. 

Technology

There is no doubt that technology has transformed the food and beverage industry in recent years and food packaging is no stranger to this transformation. According to Tetra Pak’s Alexandre Carvalho; packaging “offers great potential for personalisation and consumer experience that can both surprise and delight the consumer.”

2020 will see packaging becoming more of an interactive experience for consumers, particularly with augmented reality (AR) technology set to grow. Interactive AR packaging has grown 120% in recent years, according to a study by Kezzler, and is especially appealing to millennial consumers as it offers extra appeal to consumers through experiences such as games. 

Earlier this year, gin brand Bombay Sapphire worked with Zappar, showcasing how AR can enhance packaging and increase engagement with the brand. Customers could scan the gin bottle with phone cameras which would become a portal for digital content such as cocktail recipes and videos.

Alongside providing new ways for increased consumer interactivity, technological advancements have also helped to provide ways to increase transparency in the food supply chain. Back in April 2019, Nestlé and French retailer Carrefour partnered to offer consumers the ability to trace the origin of Mousline mashed potato products using blockchain technology.

This type of technology allows consumers to access a secure platform on their smartphone after scanning a QR code on the product’s packaging, which provides access to information about its production supply chain. This includes the variety of materials used, the date and place of manufacture, information on quality control, and the place and date of storage before the product reaches shelves.

There’s no guessing where technology advancements will take us next year, but the possibilities are exciting. With a recent consumer focus on sustainability and with innovative products, such as Stixfresh stickers which claim to keep fruit fresh for up to 14 days longer, it will be interesting to see how packaging technology develops to combat current food waste and environmental issues.

Transparency

38% of consumers would willingly purchase a newly launched product if it had clear product information on it, according to research by Bizongo. With the conscious consumer on the rise in 2019, it is important for brands to be upfront and clear about their products and the ingredients in them.

Earlier this year, FoodBev reported research from compostable packaging company Tipa, stating nearly half (48%) of British shoppers would like to see clearer labelling on products with plastic-free packaging. Likewise, nearly half (49%) of shoppers would welcome the introduction of labelling to identify that packaging is compostable.

This transparency extends into food packaging not only in the information provided on the package but in terms of the material used. Recently, there has been an increasing amount of clear packaging made from translucent materials, allowing consumers to see exactly what they are purchasing in the product.

An example of this is Bonduelle, a vegetable processing company that released a new Harvest Bowl for consumers to enjoy hot lunch on the go. Bonduelle noted that its products are clean-label focused- free from artificial preservatives and flavours – and it also aims to retain the freshness of its available products through packaging which keeps each ingredient separate. The packaging they chose was clear and showed the consumers exactly what they are buying, which aligns with its clear label brand focus.

Ultimately, consumer desire for clean-label is driving this trend for transparency in the food packaging industry and this will continue to drive growth in 2020.


At HRC, we are focusing on a number of topics and there will be plenty of learnings to take away from the show to help you and your business make small changes that can create big results. We will have sessions at the Vision Stage from industry leading speakers and plenty of exhibitors for you to talk to and find out what these topics mean to them.

 *This article was written by our partner, FoodBev Media. With over 15 years as the leading international food & beverage media company, FoodBev Media reports and comments on leading innovations, news and trends. They also organise and run the industry’s most established awards programmes: The World Beverage Innovation Awards, The World Dairy Innovation Awards, and The HRC World Food Innovation Awards. All information can be found at www.foodbev.com