Four Cannabis Packaging Technology Trends to Follow
Mass production, security, education and sustainability are packaging trends to watch
By Christine Pietryla Wetzler, a Chicago-based freelance writer
The first two states to legalize recreational marijuana use were Colorado and Washington, and November 12, 2022, marked the 10th anniversary. As the industry matures, supporting technologies will innovate. Packaging is no different, and 2023 will captivate us with dynamic and visually appealing solutions designed to keep up with the growing demand for cannabis worldwide.
As we enter 2023, there are a few key areas where industry experts predict the biggest trend shifts in cannabis packaging.
Demand is a double-edged sword. Not only does innovation follow, but the literal demand for product swells. Marijuana is becoming so ubiquitous The New York Times just ran a feature on how couples offer it as an indulgence at weddings. Because of its widespread use, packaging technologies are advancing to capture attention and enable reliable mass production.
You will see improved closures to preserve safety and freshness — providing easy access for seniors but zero access to children and pets. New flexible packaging substrates can accommodate different kinds of food-grade items for longer periods of time in different temperatures and storage environments. And technologies that offer scalable operational efficiencies, like Lucid Green’s dynamic QR code solution, enable full inventory visibility while removing the manual stickering burden for retailers.
More product on the shelves means more opportunities for theft and counterfeiting. As cannabis is marketed and sold like any traditional retail product, the security solutions used to prevent loss and protect consumers have to perform at higher levels and in bigger quantities.
Packaging is the first line of defense in these situations, so you will see advancements in adhesive tamper-resistant tape technology, inks that indicate environmental changes or tampering, and RFID tracking that confirms the progress of a product. Undoubtedly, you will see these technologies integrated into every area of the supply chain, from shipping until it reaches the buyer’s hands.
Buyers want very specific info on their cannabis packaging according to consumer surveys. In fact, a survey by High Yield Insights ,respondents ranked package messaging higher than other packaging attributes, including “discrete” and “portable” packaging.
Mike Luce, president, High Yield Insights, explains, “As more people enter the category, cannabis packaging will increasingly play a part in consumer education. Although cannabis brands have to be careful with on-pack claims, messaging about the benefits or effects of the product is something consumers want to see.”
Last but certainly not least is sustainability. It’s been the leading concern for the entire packaging industry for years, and cannabis packaging is no different. The High Yield Insights study also confirmed this desire for sustainability in cannabis packaging.
The one characteristic cannabis packaging does have in its favor is that it’s relatively new, so missteps have not had time to take root. Because it’s a premium product, buyers expect to pay more, mitigating any upcharges for eco-friendly solutions.
What’s next for cannabis packaging?
Expect more sophisticated and hard-working packaging designs this year in the marijuana industry that will hopefully inspire the same kind of creativity across the board as the industry continuously finds ways to improve efficiencies and delight customers.
Packaging will remain the first point of contact for consumers looking for a curated experience. Good cannabis packaging in 2023 and beyond will be customer-centric and enchanting to its targeted audience.
About the Author
Christine Pietryla Wetzler is a freelance writer that contributes to Forbes and Entrepreneur and is president of Pietryla PR & Marketing in Chicago.