Leading market intelligence agency Mintel announced in December the five trends set to impact the global packaging industry over the coming year, where Mintel's experts define the challenges and opportunities that will affect manufacturers, brands, and retailers in packaging markets around the world over the coming months and years.

The five trends encompass broader themes of preservation, automation, aesthetics, sustainability, and trust, providing a full view of the global packaging industry in 2018, Mintel said. In 2018:

* Packaging will play a pivotal role in reducing global food and product waste.

* Online brands will reinvigorate their packaging to enhance the e-commerce experience.

* Brands who adopt clear and succinct package messaging will be rewarded as consumers prefer brands that embrace minimalism.

* Brands will be called to keep marine conservation at the forefront of packaging development and to anchor the circular economy for future generations.

* Contemporary packaging formats will see the center-of-store take the stage.

* Looking ahead, David Luttenberger, Global Packaging director at Mintel, discusses the major trends set to influence the packaging sector worldwide in 2018, including implications for consumers, brands, and manufacturers.

What’s happening in 2018 and where next?

"Consumers have long considered packaging as often unnecessary, and ultimately as just waste to be disposed of. But that misconception is now changing. A focus on package innovations that extend food freshness, preserve ingredient fortification and ensure safe delivery is increasingly benefiting consumers on a global scale. Indeed, 50 percent of US grocery shoppers agree that the right packaging can help reduce food waste," Mintel said.

The United Nation's FAO estimated that 1.3 million tonnes of food are wasted each year globally, with consumers in Europe and North America throwing away between 95-115 kilograms of food per person. Consumers are concerned about this growing waste mountain, and shoppers seeing the cost of this waste on their wallets, people are now actively seeking solutions.

"Indeed, 61 percent of Canadian fruit and vegetable buyers say they would be interested in packaging that keeps food fresh longer, indicating the importance of this issue across the globe. Brands need to act now, exploiting on-pack communication tools to educate consumers to the benefits packaging can bring, from extending the shelf life of food to providing efficient and safe access to essential products in developed and underserved regions of the world," Mintel said.

Packaged Planet

The throwaway culture of today will evolve into one that understands and embraces the role of packaging as a primary means to reduce global food and product waste.

"56 percent of Brazilians are actively trying to reduce food waste at home."

Brands will need to act fast by exploiting on-pack communication tools to educate consumers to the benefits packaging can bring, from extending the shelf life of food to providing efficient and safe access to essential products in developed and underserved regions of the world.


As more and more consumers embrace online shopping, packaging will play a pivotal role in brands’ and consumers’ e-commerce experiences.

"51 percent of Chinese consumers aged 20-49 who shop online say it is fast and saves time."

Online shopping is becoming increasingly widespread around the globe and is near ubiquitous in some markets. However, while online shopping’s key advantage is the convenience, consumers expect more from their favored brands. When designing packaging to be viewed online, and transit packaging to be opened upon delivery in the home, the experience of e-commerce packaging must reflect consumer expectations from shopping with that brand in-store.

Clean Label 2.0

Aiming for packaging designs that enlighten consumers’ purchase decisions, brands will reject approaches that offer too much or too little as they can leave shoppers more confused than informed.

"39 percent of French consumers feel that excessive information on food and drink packaging can make it hard to trust a brand."

Today’s consumers are more informed than ever; however, brands are in real danger of being rejected if consumers feel overloaded with information, leading to the questioning of provenance, authenticity, and transparency. The “essentialist” design principle bridges the divide between not enough and just enough of what’s essential for consumers to make an enlightened and confident purchasing decision. Brands must bring the next generation of a clean label to packaging design to provide a moment of calm and clarity for shoppers in an increasingly hectic retail environment.

Sea Change

Plastic packaging adrift in the world’s oceans will become the catalyst driving brands to rethink packaging in a context that consumers can understand and act upon.

"36 percent of Australians prefer products that are sold in eco-friendly packaging."

Concerns over safe packaging disposal will increasingly color consumers’ perceptions of different packaging types, and impact shopper purchase decisions. Only by communicating that a brand is working towards a solution will this growing barrier to purchase be overcome. While collecting waste plastic from the sea to recycle into new packaging can raise consumer awareness, it won’t solve the problem. To keep plastic out of the sea, a renewed effort towards the circular economy is needed to keep packaging material in use.


Brands will look to contemporary packaging formats to help reinvigorate the center-of-store aisles less visited by younger consumers.

"34 percent of US consumers aged 18-34 shop for center store foods most often at grocery stores compared to 62 percent of those aged 55 and older."

Young shoppers are increasingly ‘shopping the periphery,’ visiting the fresh and chilled aisles around the store perimeter and turning their backs on processed, ambient, and frozen offerings in the center of the store. The use of transparent materials, contemporary design, recyclability, or unique shapes can help draw in younger consumers to the store center, making it as appealing as the burgeoning perimeter to younger consumers.

Mr. Luttenberger said: “Our packaging trends for 2018 reflect the most current and forward-looking consumer attitudes, actions, and purchasing behaviors in both global and local markets. Such patterns as those we see emerging in e-commerce packaging have stories that are just now being written.

"Others, such as the attack on plastics, are well into their first few chapters, but with no clear ending in sight. It is those backstories and future-forward implications that position Mintel’s 2018 Packaging Trends as essential to the retailer, brand, and package converter strategies during the coming year and beyond.”

Copies of Mintel’s Global Packaging Trends 2018 are available on request. Look up: http://www.mintel.com/contact-us