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Packaging Material Trends 2010

By: Jeff Falk
Posted: January 19, 2010, from the January 2010 issue of GCI Magazine.

Complementary to "The Shape of Things to Come." this Q&A with Julie Vergnion, product manager, Rexam Personal Care Division, and Matt Croson, vice president, member services/communications, Packaging Machinery Manufacturers Institute (PMMI) explores material trends for 2010 and beyond.

Any discussion of materials trends is ultimately part of the larger goal: brand building through innovative packaging solutions. Materials, processes, knowledge of end-user needs and ergonomics are all part of the equation. Today, consumers around the world look for an overall “better” packaging experience, in terms of function and aesthetics. There is a worldwide move towards premiumization of packaging. Every year, the bar is set higher. It becomes increasingly critical for brand owners facing important global launches to collaborate with innovative, single-source suppliers that can help shorten supply chains, provide international launch support and help build brand equity.

What packaging materials trends began to emerge in 2009? What trends impacted the market in 2009 and what trends will continue to emerge in the year ahead?

JV: There is growing demand, worldwide, for new (and greener) materials. The quest for eco-friendly materials will be an ongoing trend and new materials will be unveiled in 2010. Further, there is a growing trend toward premiumization of personal care product packaging, in markets around the world.We note with interest the recent Natural Aquarela line repack for the Brazilian brand’s lipsticks and compacts that addresses demand for ever-increasing levels of package sophistication and uses environmentally-friendlier materials. Developed in conjunction with Natura at Rexam’s Jundiai, Brazil, facility, the packaging solution includes sophisticated use of PMMA on the compact covers, silk screening on the lipstick mechanism’s sleeve and further customization of a WPC (wood plastic composite) formula that renders the wood particulates visible and appealing and allows injection flow.

Another example of worldwide premiumization: the Oriflame, one of the world’s fastest growing direct sales beauty products companies, has selected Rexam’s airless and neutral Prodigio, the 100% recyclable lotion pump designed with patented CleanPoint technology, for its North For Men Total Age Control Cream. This latest assignment builds upon our Oriflame relationship and underscores the briskly accelerating importance of packaging that imparts high perceived value in the world’s emerging markets. Oriflame is an industry innovator that launches 900 products annually, sells in 61 countries and derives most of its €1.3 billion in annual sales from eastern Europe and Russia.

MC: The single largest trend that we saw in 2009 and predict will continue into 2010 was the continued emergence of new materials that respond to sustainability-oriented objectives. One example of these new materials is polylactide (PLA), a biodegradable plastic derived from renewable resources like cornstarch and sugarcane.

2010 is going see greater demand from brands for verification of the sustainability claims that many packaging suppliers make about materials. There is a possibility that we could see a push for industry-wide standards to regulate claims and ensure transparency.

Are there new materials expected to emerge in 2010? How do these trends evolve?