Edward Martin, a consultant to the packaging industry, says that good packaging protects the product, promotes the product, enhances distribution and builds on the product message in a sustainable way. “Great packaging does all the above plus drives consumption of the product. Today, the issue of sustainability has become a significant issue with regard to packaging. Packaging producers have to respond to the importance of sustainability or risk the loss to business to more sustainable packaging options,” Martin says.
The result appears somewhat mixed. While many more professional packaging suppliers have embraced cradle to cradle approaches and life cycle analysis, many suppliers have not. “They tend to go to market with broad, unquantified, compartmentalized claims like ‘made from recycled material’ or ‘recyclable,’” notes Martin. “Going forward, I see stakeholders like CPG marketers, retailers, and ultimately consumers demanding high performance from packaging while requiring packaging suppliers to address sustainability in a transparent, consistent and comprehensive manner.”
Richard Seale, a machinery specialist, says that product appearance at both point-of-sale and wholesale distribution is becoming increasingly important as it is interpreted as being significant to perceived product quality. “Perceptions based on color, texture, firmness, and vacuum tightness all contribute to the decision to possibly leave the product package on-the-shelf and thus stale-date the consignment merchandise, which is a total loss to the manufacturer,” says Seale. “Bin based point-of-sale is being transformed to peg-board presentations with sealed rings for peg board handing displays. There are many pluses for manufacturers in this retail presentation.”
Seale says that packaging materials evolution is being driven by increasing valued best-before elongation as the supply-chain represents untapped geographic market potential, especially for ethnic or novel foodstuffs.
Boris Zubry, a specialist in engineering and packaging, says that the old-timers would say that you have no product if there is no package. “Even the best product in the world needs a package for marketing, storage, and shipping operations,” he says. “In many cases, packaging is equal or even more important than the product. Packaging tells the client, customer, or buyer what you have and what it can do. You can display information in many different ways using clear windows, colors, print, barcodes, different materials, and whatever else may be needed.”
Lubry says that information on the package allows a company to store and dispense products in warehouses and retail outlets. “Packaging has to provide a high degree of protection to the product during the storage and transportation. It also has to provide protection to people from the product. Many packages guarantee sterility, freshness, and quality of the product for as long as the package is not damaged.”
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