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Need To Know

Packaging Materials

Regarded as a core growth market for some time, we take a look at the packaging market and pick out some of the key trends print companies should be aware of when it comes to material choice

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Fedrigoni’s Symbol Pack is a high-quality board specifically engineered for folding boxes

Perfect Packaging

There is no secret as to the opportunities for print service providers (PSPs) in the packaging sector. Whether this is in the luxury retail arena and helping brands with their eye-catching packaging, or within food and drink and making certain products stand out on shelves in the local supermarket, there are plenty of areas to explore.

When it comes to material choice in packaging, the importance of this simply cannot be overstated. Does your customer want a certain feel to the pack? Do they require special effects like foiling or embossing? What about sustainability and if the packaging can be recycled after use?

These are just some of the things to consider when selecting a material to work with. Here, we pick out some of the latest trends within packaging and consider how new and innovative materials available to the market can help you address these demands.

React To Trends

First up to offer advice is Kite Packaging, a diversified supplier of packaging products and materials. Managing director Gavin Ashe says the company has taken note of a number of key trends in recent years and PSPs should ensure they are able to react to such demands.

“Bespoke packaging provides a great opportunity for printers as brands are always looking to tailor designs to their specific aesthetic as a way of enhancing customer engagement and enhancing brand loyalty,” Ashe says.

“The growing trend of small batch customised products also allows printing companies to make the most of on-demand packaging. With the help of automation, smaller orders are more viable to complete.”

Kite Packaging emphasised the importance of sustainability with packaging materials

Taking this a step further with a nod towards crossmedia, Ashe says that the integration of technology, particularly with QR codes, has become more prominent within the packaging industry. In response, Kite developed an app earlier this year to aid its customers’ ordering experience.

“Our app combines the use of QR codes on packaging products with the camera app on any mobile device, allowing customers to easily search for products by providing a far more streamlined and convenient ordering experience,” he explains.

“The continued popularity of unboxing videos especially with luxury brands makes premium and luxury packaging a great area for printers to focus on while sustainability also continues to be a major influence.”

As it also is in seemingly all other areas of print, sustainability is very much the overarching trend in packaging, with the pressure on printers and their packaging partners to reduce waste, their carbon footprint and environmental impact through the package production process, as well as using planet-friendly packaging in general.

With this, Ashe notes the introduction of Plastic Packaging Tax in 2022, the ban on certain single-use plastics coming into place in October 2023 and various other environmental considerations on the horizon such as Extended Producer Responsibility.

“We’ve been focusing on bringing sustainable packaging products to market and expanding our existing eco-friendly ranges,” Ashe says, adding: “This year, we have expanded our single wall, double, and e-commerce box ranges as well as our strapping and banding machinery and products.

“We recently re-launched our pallet range to ensure it offers eco-friendly timber, presswood, nestable and rackable plastic pallets, giving us one of the most comprehensive and competitive ranges available in the UK.”

Go The Extra Mile

Remaining on the subject of sustainability, Dufaylite is another market supplier that very much places the environment at the top of its priorities when developing new solutions for this sector. Managing director Ashley Moscrop says more emphasis than ever is being placed on sustainability and, as a result, there is a higher focus on single-type materials to reduce waste.

Dufaylite managing director Ashley Moscrop says more emphasis is being placed on sustainability in packaging

“Ensuring that any products you offer have true environmental benefits is vital,” Moscrop explains, adding: “Without a doubt, materials that are easy to recycle should be a top priority, along with those that offer a high print quality and good product protection.”

Drawing attention to how Dufaylite can help with its portfolio of products, Moscrop picks out a number of new solutions that are now available to the market. These include its thermal, insulated box liners, which he describes as a “real innovation” for the sector.

Dufaylite's thermal insulated box liners are a "real innovation"

“They are made entirely from our recycled paper honeycomb and are the first paper-based alternative to polystyrene and lambs’ wool on the market,” Moscrop says, continuing: “They complement our environmentally friendly range of packaging products and are easy for the consumer to dispose of and recycle.

“We have also taken every step to ensure safety and we are the only honeycomb provider in the world with the AA BRCGS Global Food Safety Standard.”

O Factoid: Dufaylite is the only honeycomb provider in the world with the AA BRCGS Global Food Safety Standard O

As for advice for those looking to enter the packaging industry or expand their presence within this market, Moscrop says the sector presents a real opportunity for commercial printers, and expanding their range of services comes with many benefits. However, in order to make a real success of yourself in this area, he advises targeting certain areas in particular due to the amount of companies already active within the overall packaging arena.

“I would recommend specialising in high-end packaging, offering personalisation, and focusing on short-run technologies, because the existing market is crowded and well-established for traditional packaging,” Moscrop says.

“This makes it difficult to compete, which is why areas within the high-end or the premium product sector offer more potential and is where people will pay more for creativity in the form of custom, specialist packaging that requires shorter runs. Brands wishing to engage with their customers on a personal level will seek out packaging that specifically fits the bill.

The final product needs to look the part, provide adequate protection for its contents, be sustainable, and appeal to both brands and customers

“The packaging market is well-established and competitive. If you decide to enter the market, you will need a fresh approach, new ideas, and to carve a niche for added value. The final product needs to look the part, provide adequate protection for its contents, be sustainable, and appeal to both brands and customers. Be prepared to go the extra mile.”

Shaping The Market

Continuing with the theme of sustainability is Annette Clayton, global account manager at Fedrigoni, a company known for high-quality products and paper materials across both the traditional print market and the packaging segment. According to Clayton, the requirement to switch from plastic to paper has been a key driver in the demand for paper-based packaging solutions, saying this trend looks only set to continue as the demand for more sustainable packaging continues to increase.