shutterstock_2370140297I don’t know about you but 2023 flew by! With the post-pandemic era squarely behind us, 2023 brought more opportunities for collaboration and innovation as companies worked together to address the daunting industry-wide challenges that lie ahead for the food packaging industry. While sustainability & recyclability efforts remained a top priority, the rapidly evolving regulatory landscape is shaping packaging trends for 2024, pushing companies to rethink and evaluate their strategies for sustainable packaging.

As we enter 2024, it becomes a pivotal year for organizations to embrace innovation and collaboration, presenting the opportunity to grow consumer trust and contribute to a more conscientious and environmentally responsible future.

Below are 5 packaging trends that we see taking priority in 2024 for rigid food packaging solutions:

Top 5 Rigid Food Packaging Trends 2024

1. Sustainable Packaging Design & Re-Design

Remember those 2025 sustainable packaging goals? With 2025 just around the corner, consumer & retailer demands are putting the pressure on food companies to deliver on the commitments & targets for increased packaging sustainability that they set several years ago. Consumers now expect that CPG brands are operating sustainably and are seeking greater transparency, accountability and measurable results.

This will bring significant shifts industry-wide in 2024 as design and redesign for sustainability take top priority.

Following the 2024 packaging trends, companies will seek to pursue strategies to help address the environmental impact of their plastic packaging including, development of alternative material structures, simplification of existing structures, light-weighting and plastic reduction, reducing carbon emissions and elimination of problematic or non-recyclable materials.

2. Regulatory Compliance

In 2023, companies got a taste of the new norm of complex regulations, standards and guidelines as governments globally began to roll out stringent regulations for sustainability in plastic packaging, and this is expected to remain a top food packaging trend in 2024.

While in previous years sustainable-minded brands led the charge for change, as we move into 2024 local and national governments are now taking a commanding role, establishing targets for recycling rates and rolling out tax policies and Extended Producer Responsibility legislation to shift accountability from the consumer to the producer.

As of the end of 2023, over 400 municipalities at the local and state levels have implemented some sort of ban or tax associated with single-use plastics, with Europe and California leading the charge. This rapidly evolving regulatory landscape will further accelerate initiatives for sustainable packaging design, replacement of non-recyclable materials, and the incorporation of post-consumer recycled content.

3. Embracing Advanced Technology

I’m not sure about you, but when I think about plastic packaging, I don’t necessarily associate it with a “high-tech” industry. However, when scouring lists of food packaging trends for 2024, the use of AI and smart packaging appeared on almost every one.

The use of AI is permeating almost every industry and the capabilities appear to be endless – it’s just a matter of figuring out how it can deliver value within the scope of your business. For packaging, AI is revolutionizing the design process and is increasingly being used for both graphic and structural design, resulting in more efficient ways to ideate new packaging designs and refine packaging concepts.

On the smart packaging side, technology such as RFID and smart tags can enable automation at various stages of the supply chain. While RFID tags are features that many retailers have already mandated for inventory and product selection, this can also aid in reuse and recycling of the packaging post-purchase using the smart tags to better identify and sort different types of packaging at the recycler.

4. Consumer Education & Transparency

Another key aspect of packaging trends of 2024 is the growing emphasis on consumers and transparency.

Consumers are increasingly interested in interacting with brands and are seeking information about where their products come from and how they are made. This can be for anything from nutritional and allergen information to information about sourcing, production practices, social responsibility, and recycling/disposal information. Therefore, companies that embrace technology will be able to communicate with their consumers more easily through scannable QR codes and functional labels.

This level of interest from the consumer also presents an industry-wide opportunity to embrace a standardized labeling system for recycling & disposal procedures. In the US, 1/3 of consumers expressed a desire to see a standard labeling system for sustainability information. This was not just for recycling information, but for sourcing, manufacturing and overall environmental impact. Use of this type of on-pack labeling will not only serve to facilitate consumer desire for increased transparency but will also offer additional opportunities for brands to communicate progress on their sustainable packaging initiatives and increase brand loyalty.

5. Convenience & Functionality

While sustainability continues to remain a top industry-wide priority, it must not come at the sacrifice of convenience and functionality. Consumers are continuing to demand easy-to-use, functional packaging solutions like single-serve packaging, portion-controlled packaging and re-sealable solutions that fit into their fast-paced lifestyles.

In addition, the continued rise of e-commerce in food from grocery delivery to meal delivery subscription services demand innovative packaging materials that can ensure product protection during transportation & storage and facilitate user experience during consumption. Contactless delivery and the increasing prevalence of doorstep drops, and locker systems have also increased the need for increased security and tamper-evident packaging.

ICPG Can Help you Achieve Your Goals in 2024:

As we navigate the packaging trends of 2024, ICPG is here to support your goals. The pressure to develop sustainable packaging solutions by the 2025 target deadline is on – but it’s not too late! ICPG’s XPP Polypropylene Solutions have been developed to deliver key benefits  in processing, function, and cost, all in the form of a sustainable and recyclable product for replacement of non-recyclable and problematic PS food packaging. Check out our Guide to Commercialization to see what’s possible in 2024 with XPP:

Download The Guide Here


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