Packaging matters
According to Mintel, consumers are seeking out more transparent packaging.

According to just released research from Mintel, brands and manufacturers are innovating packaging to keep global consumers, not only engaged, but to develop brand loyalty which is becoming more and more intangible in this modern age where consumers have more choices than ever before across all packaged goods.

These are the six key themes that Mintel claims will resonate most with consumers in 2016.

1. Digital Evolution 
Digital printing is capturing brands’ attention by creating opportunities to engage consumers on a local, personal and even emotional level. With nearly one quarter of Chinese consumers indicating they would pay more for personalized soft drink packaging, digital printing is positioned to grow well beyond industry estimates. In 2016 we will experience the tipping point for digital package printing, as brands move beyond using it for limited editions and personalization, and capitalize on its economic and speed-to-market advantages for mainstream package decoration.
2. Show me the goods 
With the growing number of on-pack claims competing for shoppers’ attention, consumers are demanding more information about what they are really buying but seeking less on-pack clutter that confuses their purchasing decisions. This is perhaps nowhere more apparent than in food, where clear and concise information about ingredients, functional product attributes and safety must be communicated with total transparency. Looking ahead, the concepts of clean labeling and clear on-pack communication are set to converge.
3. Phenomenal Flexibles  
No longer is flexible packaging (specifically pouches) considered a tradeoff. Almost one third (32 percent) of consumers associate flexible packaging with being modern and brands are tapping into flexibles’ nearly unparalleled marketing opportunities. But at what point will flexible packaging, especially pouches, become non-differentiated? Truly innovative brands will be looking to the next generation of rigid/flexible hybrids that offer functional and environmental benefits alongside great shelf presence.
4. More than just "green" packaging 
Despite brands’ best efforts, package recycling is well below its potential. What’s more, 63 percent of US consumers have stated that reusable and repurposable packaging is a key purchasing driver. Going forward, when product price and perceived product quality are equal, consumers will be increasingly turning to these eco- and alternative-use attributes as the deciding purchasing factor, and brands cannot afford to ignore this as they develop their brand positioning and marketing strategies.
5. Size Matters 
American families are seeking value in larger container sizes for milk; British consumers are asking for more choices in size for alcoholic beverages. What’s more, as evident by the 50 percent of health-conscious snackers saying they would be willing to try a new product if it comes in a small, trial-size pack, the ability to reach consumers in time-shifting use occasions means brands must offer a greater range of pack sizes. In 2016, brands must deliver packaging that consumers see as right-sized for themselves and shifting use-occasions in order to overcome the growing lack of brand loyalty.
6. Packaging Mobil-Ution 
There’s a revolution happening in mobile-engaged packaging. Unlike the previous generation that included clunky QR and text codes, this time around brand owners are tapping near-field communication (NFC) and bluetooth low-energy (BLE) as primary engagement technologies. Moving forward, as brands clamor for innovative ways to engage with shoppers, the mobile environment will become the new front line in the battle to win consumers’ hearts, minds and wallets.

Innovation in Manufacturing

Packaging companies continue to push the envelope in terms of innovations that revolve around ease of use, sustainability and reliability and safety.

Anchor Packaging won the 2016 Sustainability Award Certificate of Merit from the World Packaging Organization (WPO). This sustainability award for the Embraceable platter and dome follows the prestigious 2016 World Star Packaging Award for this product announced in December. The Embraceable black platter is an 11” x 8” oval designed and patented with a locator ring in the bottom to hold a standard 8-ounce squat paper food container. This popular serving size for chili, soups, oatmeal, grits and many other items often accompanies a main dish, sandwich, or salad. The clear, anti-fog, vented PP lid contains an integral sealing flange that forms a lid over the paper container at the same time that it forms a leak-resistant seal on the platter

Anchor Packaging
The Embraceable platter from  Anchor Packaging won the 2016 Sustainability Award Certificate of Merit from the World Packaging Organization.

With regard to the key issue of sustainability, restrictions on the use of polystyrene (PS) proliferate are sweeping across the United States, and food processors and restaurant operators are looking for alternative materials for their containers, clamshells and trays. NX UltraClear Polypropylene (PP), a low-density, easily recycled material featuring advanced clarification technology from Milliken & Company, is becoming more attractive to customers seeking greater sustainability in food packaging. Compared to paper and compostables, it offers greater usability, including see-through clarity for improved food order accuracy; impact resistance to prevent leakage; and the ability to be microwaved.

On the research and development front, DuPont Industrial Biosciences and Archer Daniels Midland Company recently announced a new breakthrough process with the potential to expand the materials landscape in the 21st century with exciting and truly novel, high-performance renewable materials. The technology has applications in packaging and many other industries.

The companies have developed a method for producing furan dicarboxylic methyl ester (FDME) from fructose. FDME is a high-purity derivative of furandicarboxylic acid (FDCA), one of the 12 building blocks identified by the US Department of Energy that can be converted into a number of high-value, bio-based chemicals or materials that can deliver high performance in a number of applications. This partnership brings together ADM’s world-leading expertise in fructose production, and carbohydrate chemistry with DuPont’s biotechnology, chemistry, materials and applications expertise, all backed by a strong joint intellectual-property portfolio.