The packaging trends in 2020 took a turn from the trajectory they have been on in recent years. Jeff Watkin of packaging company Sev-Rend discusses the new trends they observed, and which trends they expect to continue on into this year.
Grab and Go bags
As the foodservice industry was shut down or limited by the preventative guidelines of most governments around the world, the overall demand for packaging shifted – from being divided among foodservice establishments and retailers, to becoming mainly retail focused. Watkin shares: “The Covid landscape really turned everything on its head in 2020. Many businesses had to reinvent ways to become profitable. Sev-Rend saw a huge surge in demand because the majority of the products we manufacture already service the retail side of the industry.”
A few packaging options stood out as being more popular than others due to the pandemic. “The demand for 2-lb, 3-lb, and 5-lb styles of packaging skyrocketed and it became a juggling act to ensure that we had the proper raw goods in place to meet that demand,” Watkin explains, adding: “Additionally, during the beginning months of the pandemic, as little was known about the spread of the virus, loose produce was significantly affected. Consumers were concerned about how many shoppers might have handled that one orange or onion, and the possibility of it being contaminated. That led to a significant increase in the need for consumer sized packaging in the produce section such as pouches and netted bags.”
Sustainability on the backburner
With an increase in consumer demand for packaging as well as overall retail sales spiking, the strive for sustainability was temporarily put on the backburner by many. Watkin shares seeing this play out in the market: “We did notice that the sustainable theme really took a back seat when we were in the beginning stages of the pandemic. It never really went away, but due to the surge in demand on the retail level for product and the packaging needed for said items, many companies put that conversation on hold,” he says.
At Sev-Rend, however, the sustainability conversation was not put on hold and they are currently in the midst of rolling out their newest product line: Bio-Able Solutions. “This is Sev-Rend’s answer to the single use plastic issue we have seen for the past many years. Bio-Able Solutions takes everyday plastic products and speeds up the breakdown process, so instead of a plastic package taking hundreds of years to break down naturally, we are seeing it within 24 months. The best part of this is that it is recyclable as well,” Watkin explains.
Expectations for the future
Of the new trends that emerged in 2020, there are a few that Watkin expects to continue into 2021. “We anticipate the need for consumer-sized packaging of fresh produce to continue. This would be the 2-lb plus package size and is clearly connected to the change of consumer shopping patterns we have seen due to Covid,” Watkin says.
As to new developments, Watkin shares: “We anticipate new packaging options in this consumer-sized packaging arena to come to light, especially because the need for the ideal package type for certain commodities is still out there. A great example will be the roll stock packaging for form, fill, and seal types of equipment.”
“Overall, we are very proud of our team at Sev-Rend for all the hard work that was put in from the production floor to the management team to ensure that there would not be a significant delay with packaging materials throughout 2020,” Watkin concludes.
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