MARKET TRENDS AND DEVELOPMENTS
IN PACKAGING, EMAP, BRUSSELS 2001
Françoise Pardos, Pardos Marketing, February 2006
Trends in packaging
The main trends are:
- Continuing reduction of the weight of packages.
- Growing preference for single materials.
- Simplifying packaging.
- Key issue of packaging costs
- Growing preference for flexible packaging
- Trends towards smaller size packages.
Weight reduction of packaging
This is a major trend of the nineties affecting all packaging materials
Unit weight reduction of selected packages, in grams
|Pallet film, PELD
|Supermarket counter bag, PEHD
|Yogurt cup, PS
|2-liter softener bottle, PEHD
|Beer bottles, 0.25 liter, glass
|Beer cans, aluminium
|Tin plate can/kg contents
|Glass bottle, 0.75 liter, glass
|Heavy duty sacks, paper
|Paraffin on paper wrap, per M²
|Corr.board box for 6 wine bottles
Examples of weight reduction exist with all packaging companies.
But technical limits are reached or will be.
The average weight of 1.5 liter PET bottles for water went down
from 41 to 37 grams in about six years, in some cases as low as
In 1995 Danone reduced yoghurt cup wall thickness by 10 %. The
reduction has been 50 % since 1970, from 7 grams to 3.5 grams per
Unilever saved 20 % of PEHD on Dove foam bath.
Yves Rocher, a mail order selling cosmetics, shifted from PET to
PP for cosmetic bottles, 15 % cheaper, 25 % lighter, a major advantage
for mail distribution.
Lin Pac Plastics making stretch film for primary packaging, like
for chickens ready to cook, supplies new barrier films, 25 to 30
% thinner, with the same barrier and mechanical properties, through
a clever design of more layers in the structure. Lin Pan also supplies
a PVC stretch film, 10 micron thick, 220% stretchable that can resist
almost any puncture, such as bones, tomato stems, etc.
BSN Optima glass bottles were launched in 1994 at 380 grams, they
now are 290 grams.
For glass containers, lighter weight can be achieved with consistent
high quality with the technique of NNPB Narrow Neck Press and Blow.
This technique is used by Rockware Glass for lighter weight bottles
for spirits, beer, soft drinks, food. The NNPB process allows production
of glass containers with weights reduced up to 20 %.
Coca Cola shifted steel cans from 60.3 mm diameter to 54 mm, and
saved 1 300 tons of metal per annum. Coca Cola cans have reduced
the diameter of the can end by over 20 % since being launched.
Developments in steel technique that permitted the thinning of
beverage cans have been transferred to drawn-wall-iron food cans.
Findus changed the shape of aluminium trays from oval to rectangular
and saved 8 % of the weight.
Heavy duty paper sacks for cement went down from 5 layers and 250
grams, in 1975, to 3 layers and 220 grams in 1985 and 2 layers and
180 grams in 1995, with the same mechanical strength.
Growing preference for single materials
In fact, most mono-materials are only 90 % mono, as they include
minor contents of materials for sealing, for barrier, for printing.
The most severe requirement is in Germany, where a packaging material
is considered as mono only when it contains 5 % or less of other
There are many examples of shift to single materials.
Continental Can Europe with all PP trays, including reclosable
Nissei all PP bottles, with PP sleeve and closure.
Cobelplast pealable lids all of PS or PP for yoghurt cups, of the
All this may paradoxically lead to even more complex multi-layers
for instance 135 microns, containing nylon, EVOH, PET, PP, gravure
print up to 6 colors, white opaque, with high strength and puncture
resistance (Combitherm of Wolff).
There is a major effort to do away with over-packaging, and to
use only one primary package when there used to be two or three,
Coated cartons without need for inside pouch.
Stand up pouches, more or less rigid, without need for outside cartons.
Lidding material grouping two or more units, eliminating the need
for sleeves or multipacks.
Tetra Pak is interested in light weight unformed brick packs, effectively
All glass to be produced in white form, further color-coating permitting
broader user choice, improved surface protection, easier recycling
Key issue of packaging cost
Costs will increasingly be more narrowly calculated. The function
of packaging is to protect, preserve and present the product until
its purchase and consumption, all at the lowest cost.
The continuous packaging minimization leads to a trend from rigid
to flexible, and to downgauging.
Growing preference for flexible packaging
This is strongly exemplified by the widespread interest for eco-refills,
for stand-up semi-rigid pouches, and for large bag-in-box.
The eco-refills for concentrated detergent powder
are a major trend, allowing 80 % less packaging than the carton
alternative and incorporating 25 % post-consumer recycle contents.
Yet they only met with mixed success in some countries like France.
Refill cartons have started being used for water based paints,
white vinyl, by Crown Paints from AKZO Nobel. The 2 liter refill
packs feature a gable top pouring spout.
Stand-up pouches are seen everywhere, for instance:
In the United Sates, current forecasts give a total number of 7
billion stand-up pouches by 2005.
For liquid cosmetics, a 12.5 fluid ounce pouch reduces the package
weight by 75 % compared with the former 10 fluid ounce plastic bottle.
Aesthetics and convenience are open to question however.
Stand-up pouches have been developed by Lawson Mardon in UK, for
paints, made of 12 micron PET reverse gravure printed film laminated
to a 200 micron PELLD web.
Tetra Pak had a 4-liter flat-bottomed stand-up milk pouch, called
Tetra Flexible Jug, introduced in Vancouver by Dairyworld Foods,
the largest Canadian dairy cooperative. The pouch has a die-cut
carrying handle and a resealable threaded PE for spout and closure.
The pouch flattens and takes up less space as the milk is used.
Output is an average 1 800 FFS pouches/hour.
In Switzerland, where consumers pay for household waste by volume,
there is a strong trend towards stand up pouches, either pre-made
or Form-Fill-Seal, often of OPP block bottoms, so-called flexible
boxes. Carton boxes are no longer used for breakfast cereals, biscuit,
and other dry groceries.
The packaging of ready soups, that has tried, and continues, with
cans, laminated pouches for dehydrated soups, glass bottles, plastic
bottles, bricks, is now starting the Doypack stand-up, reputedly
light, microwaveable and easy to dispose of.
Bag-in-box is a fast growing solution for all
types of liquids, including egg and dairy products, in semi bulk
packaging. Advantages of bag-in-box for wine, for instance, are
to keep the wine from air, as the pouch collapses. Bag-in-box is
also of great interest for large volume aseptic processing.
Trends towards smaller size packages
Unit-size portions for single households. Two-size portions are
also important but there is a decrease of family size contents.
More concentrated products in smaller packages, like powder detergents.
Sampling of cosmetics, in magazines, in shops, by mail.
Outside carry-on consumption, like half a liter water bottles,
instead of 1.5-2 liters, for car, sports.
Automatic vending machines requiring smaller unit packages for
The trend towards smaller packages is particularly noticeable in
Japan, or in India, but there it is for economic reasons.
Another minor trend, parallel to the smaller size packaging is
that of service packaging like mineral water bottle
with a small cup on the closure, to drink, or a small spoon with
ice cream and salad cups.
However, this is not a strong trend, as too complicated and expensive.
back to the top of the page