January 12, 2022

7 packaging trends to watch out for in 2022

2021. What a year.

Perhaps you’re keen to commit last year to the time capsule. But, before you do, it’s important to acknowledge how very recent years have permanently altered the landscape which businesses like yours must now find their footing in.

As you continue to respond to the challenges created by a surge in ecommerce, a disrupted supply chain and changing consumer behavior, you must not only adapt and survive in this new environment, but find a way to thrive in it… All while seeing what fresh new challenges the next 12 months will bring. Exciting, right?

To further your business growth, you cannot overlook opportunities to streamline your supply chain operations and create further efficiencies throughout your workflow by maximizing your use of technology.

But don’t forget, you aren’t alone. To help you prepare for 2022’s trials and opportunities, we thought we’d share some trend predictions which we collected from our experts and used in our eBook:

So, let’s explore some specific market conditions that are probably affecting your business.

The switch to online

Many of us were already adept at double-clicking our groceries, books, beauty products and much more into virtual carts and tracking them all the way to our doorsteps – Covid has only encouraged this.

“Covid has pushed consumers more into this space and now that they’ve tasted it there’s no going back.”

Adrián Fernández, VP/GM SMB at Esko

So, it’s not surprising that 35% of packaging professionals surveyed said that ecommerce was the most prevalent trend in their respective industries in 2021.

Also, the online market space has changed in that small entrepreneurial brands that previously lacked access to a consumer market, now find a much lower barrier for entry. Small, local brands can now access a global ecommerce market.

And the impact of this on converters is, you guessed it, more SKUs. More SKUs mean yet more specialized and targeted product packaging and labels, leading to more jobs with shorter print runs.

1. An influx of brand content

Following on nicely, new SKUs means more brand content. A lot more. The sheer amount of it creates its own unique challenges for content and asset management.

Keeping track of, moving and generally managing assets manually is neither fast nor accurate enough to sustain this heightened demand. And this directly affects your packaging production workflow.

Satisfying consumer preferences and meeting their demands will only grow in importance. Thankfully, asset management programs can help streamline your packaging processes, allowing you to get to market faster while ensuring accuracy, consistency, and scalability.

Click here to learn how Esko can help advance your digital transformation journey

2. Sustainability is not just a box to tick

It’s no longer enough just to have a sustainability statement on your website. Consumers want to know exactly what you are doing to protect our planet.

“Consumers are very concerned about the circular economy and the recyclability of materials. The plastic versus fiber debate is driven by consumers, who are making that decision for brand owners. They would prefer products packaged in fiber-based materials rather than plastics.”

Jan De Roeck, Director of Industry Relations and Strategy at Esko

54% of our survey respondents say sustainability will be extremely important for them in 2022. Our advice to you is that consideration of sustainability must start from the ground up. For every single process. From the number of review cycles and reprints to ink and paper wastage and more.

Consider how you can remove inefficiencies and waste from your processes and leverage digital solutions to help streamline operations. Working more efficiently and automating your processes in these ways can have a significant sustainable impact on our industry.

3. Automation is key

40% of our customers think automation will have the biggest impact on packaging in their industries in 2022. This is no surprise as, though the need to automate the packaging management process is well defined, the goal posts are always moving as we all strive for continuous improvement. And this relates not only to automating prepress tasks, but to further automation of the flexo platemaking process, too.

Therefore, we can expect this narrative to play out this year and far beyond, as businesses keep looking for ways to save time and money to get to market faster than ever before.

“Reliance on highly advanced automation and digital tools will be of tremendous value during supply chain interruptions and workforce shortages.”

Adrián Fernández, VP/GM SMB at Esko

Need to know more about automation and what it can do for your business? Download our whitepaper to find out more

4. More digital printing

While digital printing is used to create cost-effective samples and prototypes for custom packaging, it can also be used to create impactful packaging artwork designs.

So, you can expect it to take on an expanded role in 2022 to meet the demands of the continued ecommerce surge.

“Digital printing will become even more critical because packaging accuracy and consistency is paramount.”

Roman Stepchuk, Commercial Product Manager at Esko

By integrating digital printing into your packaging process, you give your designers flexibility when creating and editing package designs. Ultimately, it enables packaging designers and engineers to create packaging faster and more cost-effectively.

5. Adoption of new technologies

As businesses seek smarter automation – the role of new, smarter technologies will only continue to grow.

For instance, businesses will use AI (artificial intelligence) to support across packaging workflows. AI could impact inventory management, for example, by predicting demand and pinpointing manufacturing process efforts towards that demand. It will also minimize supply chain complexities and assist in distribution.

“2022 will be about building machine intelligence into the process to make everything more efficient.”

Roman Stepchuk, Commercial Product Manager at Esko

AR and VR(augmented and virtual reality) will play a bigger role in packaging, too – as tech-interactive packaging becomes more popular. Whether consumers scan a QR code, play a game, or participate in other virtual experiences, this is a trend many brands will want to be a part of.

And who will they turn to, to execute their plans? If you can prepare yourself to accommodate this rising trend, you won’t regret doing so.

6. Digitization will help combat labor shortage

Have you lost valuable team members in the wake of the pandemic? We know it’s making life difficult.

“The Great Resignation is really affecting the packaging industry. Companies are struggling to find workers to operate machinery.”

Jan De Roeck, Director of Industry Relations and Strategy at Esko

Investing in digital solutions to automate parts of your process and replace manual tasks can help counteract the “Great Resignation” – stress caused by current labor shortages – because you’ll be able to do more in less time. The use of shared automated workflows will also make you less dependent on local experts performing specialized or manual tasks.

In conclusion

Though none of us have a crystal ball, we have every reason to believe packaging will become even more sophisticated in 2022 and beyond.

Embracing these trends is key to your ability to thrive in our ‘new normal’. And to help you do so, there are various tools and solutions available to maximize efficiency and minimize cost and risk.

Want to learn more about how you can prepare for big changes in 2022 and beyond? Contact one of our experts.

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