Meeting consumer demands for convenience continues to be a strong driver for existing and new packaging technologies. Meanwhile, sustainability remains top-of-mind for manufacturers and their suppliers, which reflects growing consumer awareness of and preference for sustainable products and packaging. Other market sectors like health care are looking to packaging to improve patient safety and enable more effective drug delivery.

As the packaging industry gears up for the upcoming Pack Expo East 2020, being held March 3-5 in Philadelphia, PMMI spoke to several key thought leaders to glean perspectives on marketplace trends. Their views offer insights on a number of trends facing global consumer products companies, equipment manufacturers, OEM suppliers and everyone in between.

Tom Egan, vice-president, industry services, PMMI: The packaging industry is experiencing some key shifts that focus on brand experience. Demand for convenience is a strong driver of change. There is a big push for flexible packaging because of the convenience it provides for consumers and manufacturers recognize flexible formats as an asset in building brand loyalty. Consumers like the ability to squeeze or squish out product from a flexible package to save space and prefer resealing products to regulate product consumption at their own pace. Take for example the popularity of M&M’s resealable pouches.

When enhancing convenience, manufacturers must consider the requirements of their supply channels in delivering products safely and reliably. Convenience trends, such as wine in cans, are driving changes in time-honored beverage packaging formats. Cans are more portable than glass bottles and enable consumption in smaller increments. They also lower shipping costs. It is important to recognize that whenever companies make format shifts, they need to consider potential unintended impacts to product attributes like taste and flavor. For example, ensuring that wine can be opened up and aerated properly.

Convenience options also are driving changes in the nutraceuticals market, which, as noted in PMMI's “2019 Nutraceuticals Market Assessment,” is seeing the continued rise of C.B.D. products. C.B.D. oil and its non-psychoactive components are packaged most often in glass vials. Other trending formats for C.B.D. products include gummy forms and pouches. Manufacturers are examining the different products and how best to deliver them in a cost-effective manner while maintaining branding.

Josh Becker, senior manager of packaging systems engineering, The Hershey Co.: Hershey’s brand identity has been synonymous with creating moments of goodness and delight for consumers. However, there is a critical need to provide a more visual experience for customers. While a product’s quality is what drives production, customers are also driven by what the product looks like on the shelf.

For years The Hershey Co. has produced products in lay-down bags fabricated from standard packaging equipment, but this type of packaging limited the shelf impact of Hershey’s brands. Products didn’t billboard well, and this made it difficult for busy consumers with limited time to sort through products to find the variety they were seeking.

This has resulted in a shift toward stand-up pouches, which has redefined how Hershey’s confections appear on store shelves. Other packaging elements such as deploying high gloss graphics and introducing laser scoring to simplify and improve package openings were implemented to improve visibility. There had been some tearing in closures with stand-up pouches, and these improvements have been designed to enhance the overall consumer experience.

Consumers also are looking for variety and different formats and sizes. As such, graphics were adjusted to call out more prominently family size, sharing size, weights and quantities. Consumers need to know what our bags contain is exactly what we showcase in our graphics.

Hershey’s also has invested in point-of-purchase displays so that products are retail-ready. There is a greater emphasis on billboarding with stand-up pouches that are more noticeable. Modular display pallets are able to meet demands at critical high-sales periods such as Valentine’s Day and Halloween when consumers are particularly concerned about piece-count in their purchases.

The company closely examines sales analytics to determine customer preferences and to create packaging to appeal to diverse tastes. Looking ahead to challenges such as e-commerce, we are investigating options within our manufacturing network to determine the most cost-effective logistics for meeting consumer demands for home delivery.

A Global Perspective at an East Coast Event

At Pack Expo East 2020, approximately 7,000 attendees will be able to explore the latest packaging equipment and processing technologies from approximately 400 exhibitors across 100,000 net square feet of exhibit space. Attendees and exhibitors will have quality time to review new trends and technologies, and attendees can also take advantage of free educational sessions. These include the Innovation Stage, a set of 30-minute presentations on industry breakthroughs, as well as The Forum, a set of 45-minute interactive seminars that include small group discussions and Q&A sessions each day of the show. Seminar topics will include hiring and retaining your workforce in today's economy, implementing asset reliability, and identifying cost-effective applications for robotics.

Registration for the event is $100. For more information and to register online, visit