A World of Change

By Joan Mantini

Although the world as we know it has been rapidly changing these last few weeks (longer for some), and we are faced with more unknows and uncertainties than ever before, in Michigan, one thing remains constant… the toilet paper shortage!

As an unforeseen factor in the 2020 industry growth prospects, the outbreak of COVID-19 has indeed impacted the eCommerce industry (along with many others) in terms of reduced inventory and supplies available, logistics interruptions, a dwindling workforce, and safe to say, we should expect delivery prices and times to increase until things settle across the globe.

Meanwhile, the impact on packaging companies of different sizes is varied as of now. Small and medium-sized operations may be hit harder by the COIVID-19 pandemic and may find greater pressure from the rising costs and finances.

So, how can we expect to see some potential opportunities emerging for packaging in the future? Here are two positive things we are currently seeing that may shape the industry for 2020:

  1. Packaging that offers longer shelf-life will rise: As the supermarket shelves emptied faster than they could be restocked, it became evident that during the global crisis consumers were stocking up on products that were able to keep them from enduring frequent trips out into public places. Consumer’s habitual preferences quickly became a thing of the past and was no longer driving the consumer’s purchasing decision.  Product packaging that guaranteed longer shelf-life took the front line.
  2. eCommerce peaks beyond forecasted numbers: As more consumers are asked to stay quarantined in their homes online shopping has reached new limits and eCommerce numbers are increasing to new levels. In a report release in December of 2019 by Smithers Pira, “The Future of Global Packaging to 2024,” it was estimated that “in 2019 the total value of the packaging globally will be $917 billion.”  The study reported that packaging demand will grow steadily at 2.8 percent to reach $1.05 trillion in 2024.” Steadily is a word that no longer fits the scenario. eCommerce activity, particularly related to health and grocery, has spiked.

As 2020 continues to challenge our world, sustainable packaging efforts will continue to play an important role as many brands continue converting to sustainable packaging made from biodegradable materials and others are focus on reducing the amount of packaging each product has, cutting down on the product’s weight and shipping cost. Thriving companies always look for ways to improve efficiencies and reduce costs, whether we are in a booming economy or facing uncertainty. Increasing automation in end of line packaging operations may very well be one of the first places to increase cost savings and improve sustainability. Amongst the articles in Packaging Technology Today’s April issue, readers can find how automation can help in our feature titled “3 Ways Increasing Automation Equals Huge Cost Savings.”