Personalisation and convenience to drive future packaging growth, say experts at drupa

The ability of printers and packaging manufacturers to keep pace with changing customer demand, whether for the personalised packages unlocked by digital printing, or demand for luxury and sustainable materials, will be the key to the long term success of the industry.

That was the view of an expert panel convened by Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) at drupa 2016 where discussion revolved around how the global industry can break through the $1 trillion in global sales mark by 2020 (according to the Smithers Pira report ‘The Future of Global Packaging to 2020’).

Speaking at the debate, Dr Liz Wilks of APP, Dominic Cakebread, packaging consultant at Smithers Pira, and Michael Tobin, managing director of W Hinderer, were invited to outline their views on the key drivers behind future growth in demand for packaging products.

Dr Liz Wilks, European director sustainability and stakeholder engagement for APP, explained the increased role of the luxury market in driving growth while also emphasising the importance of a sustainable approach to packaging.

“You need to think about the end of life of a product right at the start of the process. What we’re seeing with luxury packaging is growth in paper and board and that’s being driven by a number of things, from the look and feel, to its suitability for a variety of printing techniques, through to its sustainability credentials.”

All the panellists agreed that the luxury market will be a major contributor to growth, with expected growth of 19 per cent in value terms through to 2019, creating a market worth $17.6 billion (according to APP/Smithers Pira paper-based packaging trends to 2019). Growth across Asia-Pacific and South and Central America is expected to reach as high as six and nine per cent per annum respectively as a new generation of consumers begin to access luxury packaging, while the established markets of Western Europe and North America will also enjoy healthy growth of three per cent per annum, largely driven by an increase in personalised packaging sectors such as the premium alcoholic drinks market.

Dominic Cakebread of Smithers Pira added to this by suggesting one area of future growth could be through greater collaboration between traditional rivals from the plastics and paper industries: “Biodegradable plastics have been around for quite a long time, but they haven’t found that many applications. There is, however, a growing concern about the amount of waste created by the food service sector.”

Michael Tobin of W Hinderer concluded the discussion by suggesting that the industry could target demand for more sustainable packaging by making better use of biodegradable coatings.

You can read more about this panel discussion from drupa in the upcoming print issue of Converter.