Industrial Physics gives packaging innovation warning

New research from Industrial Physics, the leading packaging, product, and material test and inspection provider, has highlighted the pressures facing packaging professionals and the risks that cannot be overlooked in the race to innovate.

The international survey of packaging professionals operating in the consumer goods, food and beverage, and medical and pharmaceutical industries found that an overwhelming majority of packaging decision-makers (96%) believe it is important for companies to explore new packaging developments.

It was revealed that the goals driving change in the sector currently are: waste reduction (57%), reducing the cost of packaging (55%) and sustainability (53%). As Steve Davis, Product Line Director at Industrial Physics explains in the report, the environmental efforts are often due to external demand pressures which have been building in the industry: “consumers, and lobby groups that speak for the consumer, are driving the industry toward endlessly recyclable packaging.”

In 2022, Industrial Physics released a research report on packaging sustainability, where manufacturers revealed investment in sustainable packaging was driven by the goal to reduce their environmental footprint (65%), reduce waste (50%), and meet consumer demand (49%). This year’s packaging survey results indicate that waste reduction and sustainability remain defining considerations, with respondents reporting the greatest areas for development in the next five years as: material choice (53%), production processes (51%) and material reduction (49%).

The latest research also uncovered the three biggest challenges faced in packaging innovation in 2023:

  1. Current testing standards
  1. High cost of expertise
  1. Cost of materials

With deeper complexities surrounding each challenge, the report explores several key factors that can lead to the development of new packaging without the knowledge or ability to ensure it meets the safety and quality requirements for that sector.

“We have recently seen a dramatic increase in the pace of global packaging innovation. As a result, we have seen the positivity of new entrants and fresh ideas, however, this change has also highlighted the enormous risk we face if challenges vocalised are not addressed properly,” commented Greg Wright, Chief Commercial Officer at Industrial Physics.

The research report also includes contributions from experts in the field such as John Blake, Senior Director Analyst in Packaging Engineering and Supply Chain Applications at Gartner, illustrating how the survey results translate into real world examples within a variety of sectors.

Wright continued: “We understand the immense pressure that packaging professionals are facing, navigating sustainable customer preferences, budget restraints and changing legislation, however, accelerating packaging innovation cannot come at the cost of ensuring safety for customers. We undertook this research to explore the challenges in more detail, and highlight how overlooking these in the plight for faster innovation could have a detrimental effect on the packaging industry.”

 The research report concludes with opportunities that respondents identified for innovation in the next five years, including:

  1. Packaging testing processes and equipment
  1. Packaging shape
  1. Package coating

Areas of innovations indicated include automation and new equipment introduced for testing processes, packaging design led by user experience and waste reduction, and plant-based or biodegradable coatings for packaging materials.

Wright concluded: “At Industrial Physics, we are really pleased to see the strong appetite for packaging innovation from our latest research. We hope that this report highlights to those in the industry how they can overcome their current challenges and seize the host of opportunities that our industry has to offer in the coming years.”

To learn more about the biggest challenges and opportunities in the packaging industry, download Industrial Physics’ free report here

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