The slowdown of economies worldwide is resulting in consumers being more cautious in their spending. Within the fresh produce segment, demand for high-value produce is slowing down. Does this slowdown have an impact on demand for packaging? “We are still seeing strong demand for our sustainable packaging solutions,” says Shannon Boase with CKF/Earthcycle.
“However, demand is more moderate compared to last year or the year before as the impact of economics and post-pandemic purchasing takes hold.” Boase has been through this cycle before, but things are different this time around. “Back in 2009, the global financial crisis put a hard stop on demand,” she said. “This time around, the consumer momentum towards reduction of single use plastic is so strong that it would be difficult to back-track”.
Nevertheless, the company is aware of the challenges their customers are facing. “We are working closely, helping them come up with solutions that meet their sustainable packaging goals, but also take into account a more price conscious consumer.”
Carton sleeve around blueberry punnet. Photo courtesy of PackCo Design (PackCo - Packaging design (packagingconsulting.eu)) and Ball Berry Farms.
Move towards 100% plastic-free packaging
Globally, there is a difference in requirements for sustainable packaging. There are now more examples of 100% plastic-free packaging in Europe, a trend that is driven by the consumer and increasingly, retail.
“For example, for a European retail customer, a carton sleeve was designed to replace the flow wrap film around an Earthcycle punnet,” said Boase. Carton sleeves are increasingly being used in Europe for a 100% plastic free solution. “Demand patterns in the North American market are evolving and right now, North America is where Europe was five years ago because of the more aggressive government mandates in Europe which has driven innovation.”
There are very exciting developments in the North America market. For one North American club store, CKF/Earthcycle has developed a production scale tool for an 18oz top seal blueberry container. “This solution is designed to match the common top seal footprint,” said Boase. Customers who are using the PET version and are now incorporating Earthcycle into their packing lines, don’t need to buy new top seal tooling. Blueberries in Earthcycle’s 18 oz. top seal punnet will be available in North American stores as of February.
18 oz. top seal punnet for blueberries.
Fruit Logistica Berlin
From February 8-10, CKF/Earthcycle will be exhibiting at Fruit Logistica Berlin. “I expect it will be busier than last year,” commented Boase. “Last year, many regions were still impacted by Covid but this time around, I am confident the number of exhibitors as well as attendees will be up. It’s also positive to hear retailers are planning on attending again this year as many retailers were absent in 2022.”
Boase also expects to see good market intel. “I hope to see new products, although development is having a bit of a longer runway at the moment.” Product development hasn’t stopped, but with the world economy dipping, companies are taking more time and will be ready to launch when market conditions are right. In terms of sustainability developments, the consumer’s desire for less plastic is still there.
Visit CKF/Earthcycle in Hall 23, booth A-30/31.
For more information:
Tel: (+1) 604-377-8965