Woman in a mask shopping through an aisle with paper, glass, and  plastic food packaging

Consumer Preferences Dictate the Future of Plastic Food Packaging

With recent shifts in the food and beverage industry, plastics converters need to find creative ways to support brands that want to meet consumer demands.

By Shell Polymers on Apr 25, 2021

Food and beverage manufacturers are leveraging polymers to improve product quality, reduce production and shipping costs, and create more consumer-friendly final products. Converters and polymers suppliers play an important role in helping brand owners developer packaging that aligns with customer values

To help converters support their customers, Shell Polymers is using our deep industry knowledge to help you keep up with brand trends for the long run. Discover how consumer preferences for plastic food packaging have changed and how converters can adapt and innovate to help brands grow with it.

1. Sanitary Packaging is in Demand

COVID-19 is encouraging consumers to sanitize packages when they bring them home from the store. This cultural shift is inspiring changes to the composition of flexible packaging, so it's easier to disinfect. These improvements contribute to global health initiatives and enhance consumer confidence in packaged products.

Stay-at-home orders caused consumers to focus on staying in control of their emotional, mental and physical health. Believe it or not, plastic food packaging plays a critical role in consumer wellbeing. Consumers benefit from the physical and emotional safety of packaging that prevents outside contaminates and withstands sanitization processes.

Packaging materials like high-density polyethylene (HDPE) are resistant to many organic substances, such as bacteria and fungi. As the trend from monolayer to multilayer film continues, the hygienic properties of multi-layer film allows it to have agents that prevent germs and other contaminants from penetrating the surface. It’s also resistant to most chemicals, meaning it can withstand sanitation efforts such as consistent exposure to cleaning agents.

2. Transparent Packaging Design is Trendy

Designing food and beverage packaging that showcases the natural beauty of the product within is rapidly gaining popularity in the industry. This trend could be considered a win-win for consumers and brands alike, as it allows brands to take a minimalist approach to the packaging design process and highlight the product for consumers. 

While product transparency is a major consideration, PMMI also reports that 37% of U.S. consumers find it important to understand ingredients on food labels, and 91% believe that products with recognizable ingredients are healthier.[1] Therefore, designing packaging that makes seeing ingredients easy for consumers will be another way to accommodate this trend. Especially as the spotlight on consumer health expands, the trend to be clear and forthcoming about food ingredients will continue to grow with it.

3. Rise in Personalized and Interactive Packages

Interactive or gamified packaging invites physical or digital touchpoints with consumers. According to Industrial Packaging, there are two main applications for these types of packaging:

  1. Smartphone scanning and augmented reality (AR) capabilities to engage customers with video content.
  2. Digital capabilities, such as QR codes, to track shipments and record data about the location, safety, and condition of the package.[2]

For example, Jack Daniel’s created a custom app to put a modern spin on their heritage branding. The Jack Daniel’s AR Experience app allows the user to scan the iconic black and white label, which prompts it to unfold and reveal Jack’s story, how the products are made, and more through animations.[3] This provides consumers with an informative, engaging, and beautifully-designed interactive experience.

Because Gen Z and Millennial buyers prefer to support brands with unique positions and niche products, packaging designers need to meet that expectation by finding ways to incorporate those components. SLD elaborates, “...many traditional package design conventions [are] being challenged with brands paying a more vital tribute to entrepreneurship than the pedigree of establishment.”[4]

Sharing industry expertise is key to fueling business growth and evolving with the food and beverage industry. Shell Polymers’ team of experts evolves with you by sharing valuable industry insights to support converters who work in the food and beverage sector as they embrace new technologies and adapt to emerging trends. Download the full report for more polymer trends impacting the food and beverage industry.

Polymer Trends Impacting the Food and Beverage Industry

Discover how converters can support brands in meeting consumer expectations as the industry evolves

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1 https://www.foodengineeringmag.com/articles/98708-trends-that-are-driving-packaging-updates

2 https://www.industrialpackaging.com/blog/2021-top-packaging-trends

3 https://www.jackdaniels.com/en-us/jd-ar

4 https://www.sld.com/blog/design-innovation/2021-packaging-design-trends/