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What Are Some of the Megatrends in Packaging Beyond COVID-19?

2021 Trends.

McKinsey recently released a study about the ongoing shifts in the packaging industry. Here are some of the trends that the research firm sees in the space and its predictions for the future.

CPG Packaging Trends Post COVID

Many companies probably look at their bottom line with a before and after COVID-19 mindset. Global consulting firm McKinsey took a look at the trends shaping the packaging industry both before and after the pandemic and made some predictions in five key areas:

1. Sustainability

Sustainability was a big issue in CPG packaging well before COVID-19. Single-use plastics and packaging waste was high on the list of issues that were important to consumers. Regulatory rules were already shifting, and marketing teams were rethinking their strategies in these areas. 

With COVID-19, McKinsey says these issues have taken a back seat to food safety issues for the time being. However, they predict, “Sustainability will remain a key industry-shaping trend, offering strong competitive advantages for a resourceful packaging converter.”

2. E-commerce

E-commerce became the go-to mechanism for consumer purchases. McKinsey reports that food and grocery purchases have skyrocketed while other types of consumerism have declined. 

This will impact CPG packaging, requiring changes that allow stronger materials for shipping. It will also impact technologies to facilitate shipping speed to meet consumer demand.

3. Consumer Preferences

Shifting consumer preferences will likely keep CPG packaging teams on their toes. McKinsey predicts we will see a stronger consumer focus on essential CPG products and a reduction in discretionary spending. 

Consumers who switched channels to online shopping will likely continue these habits after COVID-19 is over. McKinsey suggests that changing consumer preferences will require new products that are more convenient for shoppers.

4. Cost Pressures

Consumers are cost and spending-sensitive currently, and this is not expected to change. These cost pressures will affect CPG products as packaging budgets decline. 

This, in turn, will change how packaging companies look at their products and will push many of them to reduce costs whenever possible. Packaging companies are also shifting their supply chains to a more regional focus, given the global disruption we all experienced earlier in the year. 

5. Digitization

Companies will see more digitization and automation to make them faster to respond to rapidly shifting markets. McKinsey reports companies will increasingly shift to the cloud for real-time analytics and improved transparency. 

Shopping online using a phone.

The Increasing Adoption of Online Channels

McKinsey suggests that CPG packaging companies must adapt continued offerings into online channels. Companies must also integrate their sustainability initiatives with hygiene and safety to remain attractive to consumers. 

Companies must also adopt new technology strategies to improve their e-commerce efforts. Overall, these companies must build resilience into their portfolios by creating stronger and more redundant supply chains and cost-cutting strategies to improve their competitiveness. 

Finally, McKinsey says these companies must continue to scan for new markets while creating new value-adds to make their products more attractive, given the trends they spot.

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