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Françoise Pardos, Pardos Marketing, February 2006


Packaging, the future in the developed and the emerging worlds

In the developed world

Main factors to affect packaging are:


Smaller households, singles, one person households are close to 30% of total households in the cities.
Fewer children families.
Older consumers, but keeping their younger age habits.

Health and fitness requirements

People eat less, a slightly down trend for packaging overall quantity.

Meat consumption has started declining ten years ago, and this trend accelerates.

More interest in more diversified food, ethnic variety.

Recent trends, or fakes, stopped, like the low-calorie foods and drinks. Now the vitamin and mineral enriched foods are strongly questioned, and this trend might stop as well.

Search for convenience product and packaging, but without excess, only within reasonable limits and cost. Loose self-select is likely to continue for most of fresh produce, fruit and vegetables.

Streamlining product range

This is a new strategy from major groups, with fewer shapes, sizes, packages, colors, formulas. This is part of a general strategy of simplification to:

Cut costs.
Serve consumers better, with product line transparency.
Expand globally, doing fewer and bigger things.

This is a complete reverse change from the teeming market segmentation of the late eighties. The new credo is less is more.

Distribution changes

The overall dominance of supermarket retailing is to continue in the Western world, and to achieve a comparable level elsewhere, in Eastern Europe, most of Asia, Latin America. This means that CAP or MAP, controlled or modified atmosphere packaging, and aseptic processes, will be increasingly used to extend the shelf life of fresh products.

There is a minor development of gas station shopping, the new corner shops, with smaller size packages, for convenience.

The fast trend to hard discount and shed shopping for staple, non perishable products, very successful in 1991-1993, is now stagnant in Europe.

The much written about shopping from Internet, and home delivery, is not to come soon and to have any major impact, anywhere. When it comes, to some extent, home delivery might mean still simpler and less flashy packaging. But recent surveys indicate that customers will expect the same packages for their familiar brands as they find in the supermarkets.

Complicated innovations are to stay marginal. By 2010 most people will continue to eat fresh foods, simply packaged for just-needed protection and for counting.

In the emerging economies

All world areas, with fast growing cities, gradually come to achieve a pattern of consumption /packaging / distribution close to that of the developed world, yet, hopefully, with the advantages and without the shortcomings and excesses.

Quantitatively, the perspectives for packaging are huge, a minimum three-four times of the tonnage that has been reached in Western Europe-USA, all within the next ten years.
The economies of Central Europe are currently growing at 5-8 % annually and are ready to replay the story of the last thirty years in Western Europe, with many short cuts and leapfrogs, but with the pattern of supermarkets and sophisticated retail packages of the European model.

In the very vast and populated emerging countries China, India, Russia, Latin America, the pace may not be as rapid, and much individual tradition in rural areas will be maintained. Yet, wherever they are analyzed, through various studies under way, the forecasts for plastics packaging are staggering, whether in Brazil, Mexico, China, India, even Mediterranean Africa or Russia.

Even outside cities, a major trend will boost packaging, within very few years, to protect all valuable crops of which up to 50 % is sometimes lost to pests and hard transportation and storage conditions.

For transit as for retail packaging, the major emphasis is likely to be ever more on plastics films, plain and sophisticated, even pouches for liquids, clearly the cleverest solution to packaging, with only the needed requirements, without unnecessary frills.

Making quantitative forecasts, to ten years, for packaging in emerging economics, would be a hazardous exercise, but the guide is "very much, very simple, and very clever".


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