Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Blog: A Look back at 2014 Packaging Predictions

By: Rob Kaszubowski

The turn of the New Year means a few things: goals, resolutions and planning for the year ahead; and reflections and evaluation on the year that was. Early in 2014 I made a few predictions on packaging trendsfor the year.  Let’s take a look at how those predictions shook out over the course of the year:

1)      Cartonization: While I can’t say the term “cartonization” specifically took off last year, the general theme sure did. We had defined cartonization as the process or tool used to select the best shipper case to transport products. The general idea behind the concept is to have an optimized selection of shipping cases to transport a wide variety or mix of products. FedEx and UPS definitely had the same concept in mind as they looked to optimize the cube utilization within their trailers and delivery trucks when they changed their pricing structure from straight weight to dimensional weight starting January 1, 2015

2)      Slack Fill Packaging: As most consumers are painfully aware, slack fill is evident in many of the food and consumer goods products we purchase. However, it’s the non-functional slack fill that will get you in trouble with the attorney general – specifically the empty space in a package that is filled to substantially less than its capacity.  Slack fill started to make more of a splash late in the year when multi-national consumer goods companies Unilever and P&G  and pharmacy chain CVS  were all hit with hefty fines for using oversized packaging that deceived consumers to think they were getting more product than was actually inside the package they purchased.
Big package for small product? This illustration shows the fill line for a popular CVS drug store product.

3)      Harmonization: Once again, this appears to be a practice that hasn’t quite taken off – at least publically. The theme around harmonization revolves around standardizing and consolidating packaging – where applicable – to increase volumes and leverage buying power. There is often a fine line between standardizing and customizing, as each comes with its own pros and cons. While harmonization wasn’t a headlining theme, it is still a good analysis to perform as companies turn over all the stones searching for packaging cost savings opportunities.

4)      Shelf Space Optimization: This is also a term as consumers you may not hear broadcast from the mountaintops – and that’s just the point! CPG’s are constantly looking for ways to make changes that are visually indifferent to the naked eye, yet allow them to fit one extra box of crackers on the shelf – and also improve their transportation cube efficiencies. Take a look at a few of the changes in packaging sizes that weren’t able to slip past consumers’ attention:
a.       Also a good link:

Many packages are shrinking on shelf, is it just the package or sometimes the product too...

5)      Plant-Based Packaging: Last year we lauded companies like Dell and Coca-Cola for leading the charge on sustainable, plant-based packaging. As with any new material or technology there can often be a reluctance for larger companies to take the plunge and put forth the resources required to execute a potentially risky endeavor. However, late in 2014, TetraPak announced the launch of its first package madefrom plant based materials. As the technology behind the materials and manufacturing becomes more sophisticated and increased volumes drive down the price I’m sure we’ll here more stories of other CPG’s launching new plant-based packaging.

So I didn't exactly knock it out of the park in 2014, but then again that’s why they call them predictions. Besides, if I was awesome at predictions I would have made some great stock picks, cashed out and would be sitting on a beach in Cancun! 

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