The packaging industry has demonstrated crisis-resistant growth. At the same time, many societal and economic trends are set to influence and change the industry, both in the short and medium term.
These are the major trends identified in the present Horváth study on the European packaging industry:
- Sustainability: The increasing importance of the circular economy, a growing body of regulations and the general demand for climate neutrality in the production industry as a whole will exert a strong influence on the future development of the packaging industry. This is evident primarily in the packaging solutions being offered, but also to a certain extent in enterprises rethinking their approach to proprietary value creation. Material competence is gaining even more importance and is becoming the crucial factor for a competitive edge.
- Changes in consumer behavior: Higher sustainability awareness on the one hand, plus an ageing society and soaring e-commerce volumes on the other, are societal aspects with a significant impact on the sector (results: more packaging, tendency towards smaller packages, sustainability as a must).
- Pressure on margins: Strong intra-sectoral competition, overcapacities in some areas, customers with greater bargaining power and commoditization of the products exert constant pressure on margins in the sector.
- Market consolidation: The factors of margin pressure in combination with pressure to invest, a growing requirement for supraregional-to-global delivery capability and a fragmented business landscape (still) with many small and local players, accompanied by limited potentials for organic growth, will lead to further consolidation in the sector.
- Smart Packaging: In future, the extension of packaging’s classic functions by other “intelligent” features (e.g., traceability, specific interaction/reaction with the packaged product, or sensors) will offer possibilities to differentiate from competitors. It is not yet decided whether this competence will be developed by packaging manufacturers to provide customers with a complete solution, or whether Smart Packaging competence will stay with the customers.
The authors Christoph Kopp and this team examine these trends – with a focus on Europe – in the light of their experience in numerous projects and based on many interviews with top managers in the packaging industry. From the results, they derive relevant theses and directions for future development that point the way forward for the industry.