Packaging is like clothes. It has fashion, and new trends, and areas that will only become mass in the near future. For an enterprise that manufactures packaging, it is important to know where the market will move, what will really be in demand tomorrow, and what will go beyond a temporary hype.
Paper vs plastic
One of the most fashionable trends of recent times is the replacement of plastic with paper. On the one hand, it looks more “environmentally friendly”, a person who buys goods in a paper bag feels that he thus takes care of nature. But in practice, purely tactile sensations are far more significant. People just enjoy holding a paper bag in their hands.
However, from a practical point of view, the use of paper is justified in a rather limited number of cases. For example, you can and should sell in paper bags, for example, fresh bread. In this case, it retains a crispy crust longer, it smells, a piece can be broken off from a baguette along the way. At the same time, in order to protect the bread on the way from the bakery home, such packaging is quite enough. That is why fresh bread began to be sold in paper long before it became fashionable to take care of nature. And this is willingly done by people who may be completely not interested in the problems of plastic processing. The same goes for boxes for fresh desserts in a candy store, bags in a natural cosmetics store, etc.
In most cases, paper is simply not able to fulfill the basic function of packaging – protecting the product. We live in an era of large-scale industrial production, which means that goods produced at a large factory still need to be delivered to the consumer.
“On this path, he will go through several stages of loading and unloading, spend some time in the warehouse, somewhere he can get in the rain, somewhere he can fall to the ground. So wherever production and consumption are separated not by hours, but by days (and even more so months), one will have to look for more reliable, but at the same time inexpensive packaging. And here there is no alternative to plastic and is not yet expected, ”said Alexander Ladan, the head of Neo-Pak, the largest flexible packaging company in the Urals.
One of the paradoxes of the packaging business today is that under the influence of ecological fashion among consumers, food manufacturers are increasingly ordering packaging, which, from the point of view of processing, is much more complicated than ordinary plastic. It is a combination of materials when a protective film is applied to the inner surface of the paper bag. So, for example, ice cream is being packaged now, to which the manufacturer wants to give a “premium” image. In our hands, such a glass really seems to be somehow fresher, because we are accustomed to the idea that paper is something short-lived (apparently, apparently, the contents of this package also just arrived from the factory).
“In reality, this is exactly the same ice cream as in ordinary plastic. Such packaging is more expensive, but the price difference pays off with a higher margin of the final product, ”says Ladan.
Another promising area related to the combination of technologies is the application of additional protective films to transparent-looking packaging. The person in the store, of course, wants to see how the product actually stands on the shelf in the store. But in a regular transparent bag, the contents will be exposed to sunlight, which significantly reduces the shelf life.
“Today it is possible to apply the thinnest layer of aluminum ions to transparent plastic, which is invisible to the eye but protects from light,” says the head of Neo-Pak.
As a result, the buyer will have on the shelf a package with a “window” in which the contents of the package are clearly visible, while the package itself will provide the usual shelf life. This is especially true for snacks, the purchase of which is spontaneous, and the calculation is necessarily done in some well-lit place.
To the touch
According to Alexander Ladan, one of the main trends among developers of new packaging materials for the FMCG segment is tactility. The product is not enough to attract the attention of the buyer visually, it should be nice just to take the packaging in your hands. And don’t let her out. To do this, a special matte varnish is used – smooth to the touch, but without glare, because such a glossy package is associated with the consumer with something cheap. Tactile paints have appeared, with which you can highlight part of the picture or inscription so that they differ by touch from the rest of the surface. Such things cost more, but with their help you can sell the consumer the feeling that he has something special in his hands.
The packaging market is quite mobile and follows the demand for goods and services that need it. And here, the most noticeable growth is shown by online trading. This year in Russia, for the first time, the largest clothing retailer was the online store Wildberries, which was ahead of the huge Sportmaster group network (in addition to sports stores of the same name, it includes Ostin and Fun Day brands). And here there is no replacement for plastic. If in a regular store t-shirts and jeans can be folded into a paper bag, and it will even look stylish, this is not suitable for online trading.
“In the case when the parcel comes from a distribution center located thousands of kilometers away, only good old plastic can protect the contents from moisture, dirt, dust and other unpleasant things,” says Alexander Ladan.
Of the less vivid, but still noticeable trends, one can note the growth in sales of all kinds of food for animals – from dog food to some mixtures for rodents. Urban residents lack communication, and pets are the only friends that a person can definitely afford. This, of course, is sad, but for packaging manufacturers, the growing demand for pet food simply means new development opportunities.
Another promising direction in the development of the packaging business is food delivery. As such, this service has existed for a long time, but in the last few years there has been a real explosion. This is especially true for large cities with their endless traffic jams, large distances and eternal lack of time. The development of services like Yandex.Food has led to the fact that a person no longer needs to go or go anywhere – any dishes of any cuisine will be brought to his home or office
“Here we, of course, compete with manufacturers of corrugated packaging, cardboard, etc. But for a number of dishes, these materials are not suitable. But the cheap, lightweight plastic here is the perfect solution, ”said the head of Neo-Pak.
In connection with the growth of environmental concerns, one cannot help but recall such a direction as biodegradable packages. From the consumer point of view, this is exactly the same package – its strength is not lower at all. But, once in the ground, such a material, indeed, dissolves much faster than ordinary plastic due to special additives. Technically, this is just one of the types of products of enterprises that produce packages. And customers can order them if they consider that such packaging is well received by consumers. In Russia, there are still few such buyers, but they are. And in the case of an equal choice between, for example, two supermarket chains, such a buyer may well choose the one where there are biodegradable packages, simply because he will not feel guilty for the harm that he does to nature. Of course, not all is so simple with these packages. The trick is that the dietary supplement begins to work effectively only with a sufficient degree of concentration. That is, there should be a lot of such packages. But this is only an incentive to increase their sales.
Bags instead of bags
The struggle to reduce plastic waste opens up prospects for the production of more durable bags and bags that can be reused. Indeed, a significant proportion of purchases are not made spontaneously. People specially come to the store with a list. So, they may well take in advance the container, where it will be possible to add purchases. In Europe, this process has been going on for a long time, and it is spurred by the fact that stores refuse free packages (this is environmentally friendly and allows you to earn on the sale of packages). And the buyer faces a choice – to pay a little, but each time for a one-time package, or buy a more durable one that will last a month (or even more). In any case, polymeric materials will offer the best value for money. It’s just that the consumption pattern will change – that’s all.
Packages from packages
Be that as it may, the problem of polymer waste needs to be addressed. And the most natural step here is simply to process them more actively.
“Technologies already today allow the use of secondary granules for the production of packaging even for food products, although Russian rules do not allow this. But it is reasonable to assume that this ban will be lifted in the foreseeable future, as it opens up additional opportunities for the use of recycled materials, ”argues Alexander Ladan.
But even in the current situation, the collection and processing of used materials is a way to reduce costs, the effectiveness of which can still increase if the state begins to more actively stimulate enterprises to deal with this very secondary raw material.
Packaging based on polymeric materials in its time made a real revolution in the transportation, storage and everyday use of many goods and food products. The need for it will continue to grow. And for enterprises that work in this business, there will be enough work for a long time. The main thing is not to miss the variety of opportunities that even exist