These top trends are shaping the packaging industry

Are we bringing owls to Athens when we tell you that the packaging industry is facing profound and far-reaching upheavals? We are all experiencing how the market is becoming increasingly complex, confusing and at the same time dynamic. Stability was yesterday. The future viability of many business models has become questionable. Decision-making certainty has become a meager commodity – which we want to lift for you. In a study, we have therefore examined the decisive developments in the packaging value chain. We have bundled our findings for you in the top 10 trends in the packaging industry.


The Corona crisis, the sustainability revolution and disruptive digitalization are leaving their mark on society, the economy and, in particular, the packaging industry. Dynamic changes and drastic market upheavals can be observed.


The developments influence and generate trends that will have a lasting impact on the markets for the coming years. The packaging industry is facing disruptive changes. The market is becoming increasingly complex, confusing, and dynamic – stability is becoming a foreign word.


Many of the changes have been known for many years, but the packaging industry has not recognized them or has recognized them too late. The effects are serious, but controllable. This makes it all the more important to know and internalize the most far-reaching and dynamic trends. Because only deep and broad market knowledge leads to safe and successful decisions.


In a study, we therefore took a closer look at the most decisive market developments and trends in the packaging value chain. We have bundled our findings for you here in the top 10 trends in the packaging industry.


The top 10 trends in the packaging industry

Trend #1: Consumers expect more sustainability

A new generation is changing purchasing behavior and attitudes toward consumption in the direction of sustainability. This will result in enormous changes for packaging.


Trend #2: Corona changes buying behavior

The ongoing global health crisis has accelerated processes such as digitalization and the development of e-commerce. The packaging industry must keep pace with these developments.


Trend #3: Fluctuating raw material prices

Packaging often has a raw material content of 50-70%. Due to the high volatility of raw material prices, there is no continuity and planning security for the companies. The resulting risk is very high.


Trend #4: Changing investor expectations

Over 90% of investors rank demonstrable sustainability activities as important for their investment and investment decisions.

Companies that do not operate sustainably will have a hard time attracting investors’ money in the future. Investors expect measurable and controllable progress. This applies to all industries, but especially to the packaging industry!


Trend #5: Neue staatliche Vorschriften in den Bereichen Umwelt, Gesundheit und Sicherheit

From 2024, for example, there will be an obligation for companies (from 250 employees, over €40 million in sales) to report on sustainability. And in France, it will no longer be allowed to sell fruit and vegetables in plastic starting in 2026.

Many companies are not adequately prepared and need to invest more money in their legal teams to keep up with new developments.


Trend #6: Trademark and consumer protection

The counterfeiting industry is becoming increasingly professional. To protect the economy and consumers, more counterfeit-proof packaging must be developed and used.


Trend #7: Growth in emerging markets

As markets in South America, Africa, and especially Asia approach the per capita consumption of packaging in industrialized countries, the demand for packaging in these regions will explode.


Trend #8: Circular economy

As the most influential NGO in the packaging world, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation sets a clear framework with its New Plastics Economy: A complete switch to recycled or compostable plastics or reusable systems by 2025 and elimination of “problem materials” (e.g. PVC, EPS, PS). More than 500 companies are joining in and committing, including big players such as Nestlé or Unilever.

Many brand owners and retailers are increasingly focusing on circular economy in their packaging strategies. The packaging industry is at the center of the circular economy and therefore facing radical changes.


Trend #9: Digitalization

The Corona crisis is decisively accelerating the pace of digitalization in Germany. The packaging industry is still lagging behind and must continue to catch up compared to other sectors.

80% of packaging executives believe in digitalization as a growth driver for productivity, sales, and innovation. Only 40% have invested in AI technology.


Trend #10: Market consolidation

Over 100 packaging companies with consolidated sales of more than €10 billion are sold and integrated annually in Europe.

Market consolidation continues to progress in all packaging segments and technology areas. Smaller companies that cannot find a niche are being bought up.


Whitepaper in case of specific interest

We have also compiled the results of our study in more detail in a whitepaper, which provides examples and deeper information. You are welcome to contact us directly to obtain a free copy in English or download the whitepaper from our download portal (in German).

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