Happy New Year to all of our customers and partners! I’m sure by now you may have seen one or more articles articulating packaging trends and forecasts for 2017. However, please allow me to share our view of some of the key developments that we at Outlook Group see impacting our and our customers’ business in the coming year.

Continued focus on digital printing and interactive, intelligent packaging technologies
Through the power of mobile devices and social media, shoppers’ behavior is changing. Consumers are more aware of the world around them and more informed than ever. They expect their brands are also in tune with current happenings. Consumers are looking for relevancy, i.e. products (and packaging) that address current interests and events. They are also looking for transparency regarding the products they purchase and increased interaction with brands.

Further growth in flexible packaging
The Flexible Packaging Association (FPA) published the results of their Flexible Packaging Transition Advantages Study in November 2016. Among the key findings of the brand owner study, 31% of respondents expect to transition to a higher mix of flexible packaging in the next 5 years. Among those who already increased use of flexible packaging, 57% were able to lower production costs and 55% reported a sales improvement. And when consumers were asked to choose between flexible and non-flexible packaging, 71% of Americans said they prefer flexible packaging. Is 2017 the time for you to consider relaunching your products in flexible packaging?

Increased demand for graphic design and pre-press talent to implement new Nutrition Facts panel
In May 2016, the FDA unveiled an updated Nutrition Facts panel that includes several changes to the previous version, including a requirement to declare added sugars and a revision of serving sizes from 8 to 12 ounces. Companies with over $10 million in annual revenues have until July 26, 2018 to implement the new labels in their packaging, while those with revenues below that level will have one additional year to comply. However, you can expect there will be a huge demand for graphic design and pre-press resources to implement the changes by the deadline. What can you do to beat the rush and make the changes in 2017?

Even more focus on food safety, reduction of food waste and sustainability in packaging
More and more, companies and consumers are recognizing the important role packaging has in food safety, reduction of food waste and sustainability. Lightweighting and the use of recyclable materials will continue to be embraced with an added emphasis on clearly communicating the packaging disposal options on the label. In addition, new processing and packaging technologies (e.g. high pressure processing) have been developed to actually extend the shelf life of food, and freshness sensors will alert customers/consumers regarding the shelf life of their food and when it is safe to consume in order to avoid early disposal and excessive purchasing.

Increased demand for standardized packaging containers to accommodate shipping in Ecommerce
Ecommerce has taken a major share of the retail market and continues to expand. Amazon has clearly dominated the growth in this channel. This year we expect to see new packaging options and solutions to improve the growing drive to standardize packaging containers to handle shipping, as well processes to streamline distribution and enable cross-brand bundling.

Author - Joel Schmidt, Director of Market Development