Format changes aren’t just for radio.

Indeed, just as radio is a medium that is changing with the times while still delivering music and voices people like, package formats also shift depending on emerging technologies and consumers’ continually evolving preferences and attitudes.

One highly visible case is the dramatic growth of flexible packaging, spanning films, pouches and bags. According to the most recent “State of the Flexible Packaging Industry” report from the Flexible Packaging Association, flexible packaging sales in the United States are expected to reach $31.9 billion, and year-to-year growth remains steady at a rate of 2.6%.

In its 2019 “Flexible Packaging Assessment Report,” PMMI predicts that the plastic pouch segment within the broader flexibles market will grow 20% by 2022, followed by stand-up pouches at an expected increase of 19%. In another report, PMMI highlighted the top retail packaging trends of stand-up pouches, lower case counts and shelf-ready packaging.

Several bakery and snack brands have switched from other formats to flexible packaging. In the cracker market, for example, 34 Degrees switched from a box to a resealable pouch designed around consumers’ increasing penchant for convenient snacking. Within the ingredient sector, brands like Gold Medal now offer flour in resealable stand-up pouches, in addition to traditional paper packages.

Other redesigns involving package structure are subtle, like the switch from traditional films to matte-finishes. Other brands have rolled out metallic films as a way to stand out on shelf.

When it comes to materials, sustainability is another driver in format updates. The Walkers brand from PepsiCo, based in the U.K., recently announced that it will make its packaging 100% recyclable, compostable or biodegradable by 2025.  Another example is from the YES bar brand, which introduced a new line of products packaged in materials comprised of white craft paper and compostable boxes.

Standing out in the digital space is another driver behind some innovations in package forms. Kay Allison, co-founder with Michael Senackerib, of Farm&Oven, said that today’s package formats must be appealing for both e-commerce and retail. The Farm&Oven baked foods now come individually wrapped in boxes with an eye-catching dark woodgrain-looking backdrop and large product photos.

“Our outside package was primarily designed to work in e-comm as well as retail,” said Ms. Allison, who put her many years of industry market research experience to use in her own product line. “If it lands with them when I’m doing demos, then it will land with them when they see it online.”