Smart packaging technologies based on unique digital codes will take both online and off-line grocery in exciting new directions during the next few years, said the Tetra Pak Index 2018, launched in July. And with more consumers buying products via e-commerce such as beverages in plastic bottles, packaged groceries, and cleaning products, companies will need better and more sustainable packaging.

"Online grocery shopping is growing at a double-digit rate, while traditional stores are being reinvented, merging into an omnichannel where consumers expect to be able to buy whenever, wherever and however they choose, with the smartphone as their compass. Packaging will play an important role in response to the trends that are shaping the growth of online grocery, " Tetra Pak said.

The Tetra Pak Index 2018 highlights the four key trends shaping the growth of online grocery:

Convenience: The primary driver for online consumer take-up, as time-crunched consumers look for new ways to make their life easier. Key opportunities include easy product replenishment, voice, and convenient packaging.

Sustainability: Pressure on plastic and awareness of the circular economy will continue to grow, and recycling will become ever more critical. Consumers want to know whether brands are 'doing the right thing.'

Personalisation & uniqueness: Customisation of products and personalization in the consumer journey will be essential differentiators going forward. This fact is accelerating the direct-to-consumer trend. As much as 80 percent of consumer-packaged goods companies are predicted to migrate to this model by 2025.

Technology & performance: Super-fast delivery in as little as 10 minutes is expected by 2025, changing consumer behavior to buy more frequently and in smaller amounts, adding more complexity to the logistics. Supply chains will continue to be transformed by a raft of technologies, notably radio-frequency identification (RFID) and robotics, boosting efficiency and transparency.

The role of smart packaging
Smart packaging technologies based on unique digital codes allow every product package to be given a unique identifier. These codes can be read by either data scanning devices or an ordinary smartphone, linking to a vast amount of information and opening up all kinds of possibilities.
It creates an interactive channel with individual consumers, allowing brands to have a real-time conversation with the consumer, sharing details on the sourcing of raw materials, nutritional facts, as well as games, promotions and environmental information.

At the same time, with insights captured through these digital codes, brands can continuously improve the shopping experience and make it even more personalized for the consumer.

e-Retailers are also calling for unique identifiers compatible with the robotic technology used in their warehouse and distribution, as this is widely seen as the key to success in e-commerce. Data and full traceability help them navigate complex logistics and improve efficiency, moving closer to real-time order fulfillment.

Alexandre Carvalho, director global marketing services at Tetra Pak, said: "The rise of online grocery is an excellent opportunity for food and beverage brands, and packaging plays a crucial role in supporting their success.

"In particular, smart packaging helps drive greater transparency and efficiency in the supply chain, up and downstream, while also enabling a direct, interactive relationship with the consumer. We believe this rapidly developing technology, tried and tested by us since 2016 and now being deployed in Europe can help our customers explore new avenues, driving growth in the years ahead."

Tetra Pak Index 2018 is based on consumer research conducted in the US, UK, China, Saudi Arabia and Korea, a global market segmentation study, as well as interviews with e-retailers in the US, Europe, and China. Download the free Tetra Pak Index report, http://tetrapak.com/about/tetra-pak-index

Tetra Pak is the world's leading food packaging supplier serving customers with goods available in 160 countries. In 2016, Tetra Pak joined the Circular Economy 100 (CE100), a pre-competitive multi-stakeholder platform for participating organizations to work towards building a restorative and regenerative economy. Ideally, the industry will move toward active "cradle to cradle" packaging solutions that offered by a company of the size of Tetrapak would have a significant impact reducing the volume of plastic waste that still reaches landfills, rivers, and the ocean.