An analysis of the packaging industry

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a significant part of our lives for the past couple of years, time during which the packaging industry has become even more important to consumers everywhere. Our priorities and preferences have changed, with the need of keeping our food safe from virus contamination being vital, while, in the wake of recurring lockdowns, e-commerce has increased rapidly.

In spite of this crisis, the packaging industry has demonstrated steady growth, unlike other societal and economic trends, that have been profoundly impacted by the surrounding changes. In the last five years alone, the global sales of packaging have risen by approximately 5.6 percent every year, authenticating an increased market demand. As a consequence, businesses all over the world have been pressured to become more sustainable and innovative, in order to keep up with market demand and consumers’ needs and wants.

There are a few trends and developments that characterize today’s packaging industry – a growing body of regulations and the general demand for climate neutrality in the production industry call for increased sustainability, while customer’s increased bargaining power exert constant pressure on margins in the economic sector.

In the future, however, an extension of packaging’s classic functions should be expected. Businesses will only be competitive if other “intelligent” features, such as traceability, specific interaction with the packaged product or sensors, will be integrated. Moreover, digital printing will continue to gain significance, but it is highly likely that it will remain in the niche, for highly individualized small batches.  

A number of theses concerning the development of the packaging sector can be, thus, derived. For instance, success lies in managing to be both better and different – businesses should capitalize on those areas that enable differentiation, while being cost efficient. Differentiation should also come from anchoring the topic of sustainability in the company’s DNA, with the help of targeted management.

Furthermore, cost efficiency can be increased through the optimization of different levers of the packaging industry, which include, but are not limited to:

  • Further automation of the production process and improvement of the production footprint;
  • Having a strong market positioning and going after favorable market conditions, as well as exploiting pricing levers;
  • Standardizing and targeting acquisitions integration

The future is yet unknown, but we can conclude that the winning companies over the upcoming few years will be those that not only succeed in being distinctive in a competitive environment, but those who are also more sustainable, efficient and benefit from process automation.

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