When it comes to identifying new products and packaging, bakers need to look at drivers and trends, according to the “A Holistic View of the Role of Flexible Packaging in a Sustainable World” report by the Flexible Packaging Association. Drivers are those underlying forces fueling long-term attitudinal change while trends identify the general direction in which something is changing.

“As futurists would say, ‘you can’t predict the future,’ however, based on foresights, insights and related driver and trend knowledge, you can project the future for packaging,” F.P.A.’s report noted.

Some of those drivers include how the convergence of mobile devices, data sharing and technology will disrupt and change organizations and the way people will work and shop in the future. From a retail perspective, the two most prominent factors are private label and e-commerce.

“Private brands are continuing to grow with premium segments using enhanced packaging over branded products,” F.P.A.’s study noted. “Significant growth will continue in the e-commerce channel creating the need for new packaging opportunities at traditional retail to regain share.”

Global e-commerce is still in its infancy and is expected to grow from $2.29 trillion in 2017 to $4.8 trillion by 2021, according to eMarketer data mentioned in F.P.A.’s research.

“We are already starting to see signs of the future,” the report pointed out. “Consider the impact of Amazon and how it has changed retail in the span of a decade.”

The survey noted that new packaging will be needed to ensure that products are well protected through from the warehouse to their final destination and shipped as efficiently as possible. When it comes to their packaging operations, bakers and snack producers will have to literally “think out of the box” to adapt to the future.