Packaging trends that will reshape the industry

Johannesburg, 25 May 2022

Packaging is changing – are you ready?

Packaging has always been an exciting industry – it’s dynamic, challenging and offers the opportunity for direct interactions between brands and products in ways that no other form of advertising can.

Increasingly, thanks to innovations such as 2D bar codes, packaging is forming the “last mile” link between consumers and not just the product, but the entire brand ecosystem. Leading market intelligence agency Mintel is at the forefront of understanding these changes, and their report, ‘Global Packaging Trends 2020’ contains predictions that are as valid and compelling today as when it was released – if not more so.

Urgent vs important

Consumers have a had a lot on their minds over the last couple of years, not least the ongoing effects of the pandemic, and now the potential consequences of the invasion of Ukraine. Despite these demands on their “bandwidth”, one constant concern remains and that is the impact of human activities on our planet.

This issue, and the fact that consumers are increasingly calling brands to account in terms of the depth and authenticity of their environmental commitments, is driving the most important packaging trends as identified by Mintel.

Making recycling easier

Recycling initiatives need to be easier for consumers to participate in – lack of understanding around what can be recycled has been identified as a major barrier to decreasing the amount of recyclable packaging that is lost to landfill.

Mintel has identified several key trends in this area, including effective communication, and also changes in the makeup of packaging that facilitate recycling, such as ending the practice of inextricably combining different materials, eg, in a conventional toothpaste tube.

Replacing plastics with paper-based packaging makes recycling easier for everyone, while new approaches to recycling plastics – such as “chemical recycling” or “transformational technology” rather than more energy-intensive and wasteful mechanical recycling methods – will make an even more compelling case for more inclusive recycling.

Mintel’s report makes it clear that given that single-use plastic will not disappear overnight, packaging manufacturers and brands need to – in Mintel’s words – get ahead of the packaging curve.

Refill your way to happiness

A notable development in malls over the last few years is the appearance of refill stores that allow consumers to bring their own containers and stock up on bulk products ranging from toiletries to ingredients.

While this approach has proved popular with consumers, there are a number of factors that need to be borne in mind, including challenges around product integrity (including safety and traceability), branding and waste mitigation.

Technology has a role to play in terms of personalising the refilling experience and retailers will need to look at options that make the process of refilling seamless and convenient, while introducing branding elements that build relationships and which will resonate with consumers.

The growth of refilling presents an interesting packaging challenge in all these different ways.

The future will be all about conscious consumption

Mintel has identified a further key trend that will play out over the next few years, and that is a shift from sustainable packaging will be gradually replaced by ‘responsible packaging’ – that is, packaging choices that are more aligned with consumer lifestyle in the sense that they don’t unnecessarily inconvenience or alienate consumers, while still being mindful of the impact on the environment.

Responsible packaging will be easier to portray as a genuine effort to be more ecologically conscious, and consumers will increasingly gravitate towards brands whose values align with their own. Packaging is one of the key areas in which companies will be judged, and will provide them an opportunity to get onboard – or even lead – trends including the facilitation of recycling, alternative material choices and enabling refilling in mutually rewarding ways.

The future of packaging must be green, but only in ways that consumers can believe, buy into and benefit from.

Packaging solutions from Kemtek

In partnership with our partner, HP Indigo, Kemtek offers packaging solutions including the HP Indigo 25K – engineered to help you profitably meet the growing demand for digital flexible packaging (driven by the need to reduce material volumes for sustainability, and the demand from consumers for single-serving portions in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic); and the HP Indigo 35K, which unlocks new revenue streams from short-run folding carton jobs and also has impeccable sustainability credentials, thanks to its proven ability to reduce waste. 

For more information about packaging solutions from Kemtek, contact Wendy McLouglin on +27824177188, e-mail or visit

Download the Mintel report here.

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