Packaging Innovations: Part I

Jun 24, 2005
George Anderson

, principal, Packaging & Technology Integrated Solutions

George Anderson contributed to this report

Packaging sells. Everyone in product development, marketing and retailing knows it, but just what innovations are likely to make an impact on the packaging industry and consumer’s
use of products in the future? RetailWire asked BrainTrust member, Michael Richmond, principal, Packaging & Technology Integrated Solutions, to highlight some of the top line
trends and innovations he sees influencing the future direction of the packaging business.

Consumer Driven Solutions

More than ever, packaging and equipment suppliers are working to understand and innovate against a changing consumer market and short product life cycles. If the consumer
doesn’t buy the product, the rest doesn’t matter.

The other four major drivers in packaging today are:

  • The supply chain
  • Retailers
  • Globalization
  • Sustainability


Suppliers are looking to develop solutions that address consumers’ needs for hand fit, opening, etc. Examples include adjustments in beverage pouch fitment with threads on inside
of closure, so mouth contact is on smooth surface and sport drink containers with hand fit for women and kids. Don’t forget that Western populations are getting older and things
just aren’t as easy to open anymore. You can even buy electric appliances to open bottles and jars.


Companies are developing containers using biopolymers, such as star from Eucalyptus trees and Polylactic Acid (PLA) from corn, currently used in the water and Dairy business,
that are home compostable.

Enhanced Shelf Impact

Packages with in-mold labels, holographics, embossing, carton enhancements, and other features to make products stand out on the shelf. Companies understand that of point-of-sale
is a point-of-differentiation.

Anticounterfeit, Track and Trace

While radio frequency identification technology has been getting most of the press, there are other packaging security enhancements on the market such as Atlantic Zeiser’s invisible
ink with special 2-D bar code reader. DuPont Security Solutions has partnered with Identif Technologies using Color Spectra Foils and Bio-Molecular Marker technologies.

Next week – Packaging Innovations: Part II

Moderator’s Comment: What outside factors (security, convenience, packout, etc.) do you see as most important in the packaging innovations that are taking
place today?

George Anderson – Moderator

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.

Join the Discussion!

4 Comments on "Packaging Innovations: Part I"

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Bernice Hurst
15 years 8 months ago

Methods of mass production are the key to selling products through the maximum number of outlets for the lowest possible price. Consumers have to be tempted to buy, therefore shelf life is important, as well as safety and the much demanded information about what’s actually inside. Pretty pictures may sell the first package but no one will come back for more if they don’t enjoy what they’ve found inside. Ditto promises. And with politicians constantly stoking the flames of fear about terrorism, safety is also important. Buying big to save money is still important, therefore re-sealable containers are a boon not to mention products that can be heated in their packaging because people are just too darned busy to bother preparing or cooking. Convenience is king and don’t forget it.

Al McClain
Al McClain
15 years 8 months ago

Ease of use for consumers SHOULD be a driving factor. Whether it is or not is another matter. Hard to imagine how we are in the 21st century but jars can still sometimes be so hard to open.

An area where we could use some innovation is in tamper-proof packaging. Sure, they are 99% tamper-proof, but the consumer still has to go through multiple inconvenient tasks to get the product open. And, packaging of high theft items like printer cartridges is so much bigger than the product, it’s ridiculous. Hopefully RFID will help with that problem in the long run.

Sport drinks with better grips for carrying on a run or whatever are a great innovation. Now, if retail outlets could just get the message to carry more spout top drinks in the high consumption season!

Mark Boyer
Mark Boyer
15 years 8 months ago

From a perishables perspective, freshness and shelf-life will be the primary drivers. And can you get the package open without having to wrestle it to the ground?

The ability of packaging to be environmentally friendly will become increasingly important. There will need to be consideration for both security and landfill issues.

Other considerations: Will it fit on the shelf in the space allocated? Can the package carry all the mandated labeling copy, and still present a marketing message? And it must be really, really easy to stock.

Mike Martin
Mike Martin
14 years 5 months ago

I understand that a recent innovative package has been withdrawn from the market. The product is a “self heating” coffee can introduced in 2005 but yet began experiencing field failures and even “exploding.” I understand the product was recalled. The design was by ONTECH and the product was distributed by Kroger and others and carried the WolfGang Puck name. Sonoco I believe manufactured the container in their Wausau production facility for ONTECH who is the designer of the self heating can.

A “lessons learned” analysis must be on-going with all those involved in the design, manufacturing and distribution of the product. What went wrong and why was the product not adequately tested prior to product launch?

Apparently the initial team of the product retailer/distributor, trade name sponsor, technology designer and product manufacturer are now in conflict and teaming is a distant word.

Does anyone know if this “self heating” coffee can technology/product has survived or is it buried in the coffee coffin?


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