Trends Shaping Product Packaging Across Food, Beverage, and Beyond in 2024

March 29, 2024 | By The Fres-co Team

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As 2024 unfolds, the food and beverage, retail pet food, and specialty coffee sectors are seeing new packaging trends emerge in the marketplace. As a leader and innovator in flexible packaging, Fres-co System USA is tuned in to these trends, focused on meeting consumer needs. And with some uncertainties resulting from the current economy, it is critical to select cost-effective, sustainable solutions that help sell your product.

Here is our annual round-up of what’s new and now in packaging, in order to help you capture consumer’s attention:

1. Sustainability and Responsibility Remain at the Forefront:

A recent Bain & Company report shares that increased pressure from regulators as well as consumers, shareholders, and employers are ensuring that manufacturers continue to focus on creating sustainable products. Here at Fres-co, we know that flexible packaging options can help your business make progress in its sustainability initiatives. When evaluated over the entire lifecycle, flexible packaging has been shown to result in less fossil fuel usage, greenhouse gas emissions, and water use compared to rigid containers—all due its lightweight, compact size and high product-to-package ratio.

One of the most innovative flexible packaging advancements available is the use of rollstock to form customized flexible bags, pouches, and stick packs. With the rise of high-quality pet food innovations, there is an increasing demand for packaging solutions that better meet the needs of these products. Rollstock is equipped to protect premium ingredients against moisture ingress and oxidation, especially for “natural” and “clean-label” pet formulations that omit preservatives that typically help stabilize the product. From freeze-dried protein treats, powdered meal enhancers, to frozen and fresh pet food—and even horse feed, rollstock can also accommodate an array of food formats. Other uses include powder drink mixes (think single-serve sachets and stick packs) as well as the retail dry food market for premium items such as meat snacks, dried nuts and seeds, and hops.

2. Convenient, Portable Packaging:

Consumers increasingly seek snacks and drinks in easy-to-carry packaging, which offers both function and flavor for busy schedules. Recognizing this, Fres-co focuses on creating packaging that aligns with these needs, highlighting handheld designs that cater to the demands of a hectic schedule. The trend for convenience extends to single-serve and functional packaging across various products, from beverages and snacks to meals and foodservice items.

Key features like ease of opening, resealability, and mobility are driving innovation in this space. Our pre-made pouches are a great solution for a variety of “grab-and-go” snacks including nuts, granola, dog treats, and more. Another fantastic pouch designed for today’s on-the-go lifestyle is our patented EZHANDLE™, a reclosable, high-strength retail-ready pouch that can transport a range of discrete goods by hand with ease. With its strength-to-weight ratio, sustainability and ease of handling, our EZHANDLE™ is the next great evolution of the common rigid bucket.

In the beverage category, our stand-up barrel pouches are fun, lightweight, plus fridge and kid-friendly! Easy to customize, the printing options are endless (our award-winning printing capabilities include high definition printing of up to 10 colors, rotogravure or flexographic printing with computerized color and registration control, and Matte Finish Select® custom coating that delivers an extra graphics “pop”)!

3. A Focus on Health & Wellness Products:

In today’s market, there is growing consumer demand for functional foods and beverages that address specific health needs beyond traditional benefits like energy, protein, and hydration. Consumers are increasingly interested in products that support gut health, cognitive function, weight loss, and other wellness goals. Data from the International Food Information Council (IFIC) show these types of benefits rising in importance for consumers, specifically in the IFIC’s 2023 Food and Health Survey, clarity, improved sleep, gut health, and cognitive function were starting to rise significantly in importance.

With these functional benefits in mind, nutrition labeling and transparency regarding ingredients have also grown in importance. Flexible packaging provides ideal solutions in this regard, allowing companies to incorporate high-quality printing techniques that ensure ingredient lists and nutritional facts are legible and prominently featured. Furthermore, many Fres-co packaging solutions can be designed to include transparent windows, giving consumers a visual peek at the product inside, further enhancing trust regarding the contents. When it comes to functional ingredients, integrity and efficacy is everything. Without protective packaging oxygen or moisture ingress may easily occur – completely compromising your product and leading to consumer disappointment or distrust.

4. AI is on Pace to Reshape the Industry:

Today, Artificial Intelligence (AI) still garners a wide-range of reactions. Disbelief, excitement, or general head-shaking are often the result of beginning a discussion on how AI will affect our industry. However, its practical applications in packaging are being recognized and adopted by companies, signaling a transformative era in packaging manufacturing.

AI-powered systems can provide time and money-saving quality management, identifying defects (i.e. misprints, teasers, misaligned labels or damaged packaging) with high accuracy and speed, improving overall efficiency and quality. Additionally, AI data analysis and machine-learning algorithms are now able to predict equipment and machinery failure before they occur.

All Fres-co packaging machinery incorporates use of Goglio MIND, AI providing real-time monitoring, advanced KPIs, and advanced diagnostics with an automated maintenance management system. Available to help you protect, preserve and showcase your quality product in the most effective ways possible, our machines are engineered to be robust and consistently reliable. Goglio MIND incorporates a proactive approach that helps to prevent costly downtime by intuitively optimizing maintenance schedules. Interested in learning more about our flexible packaging machines? Reach out HERE.

In the world of digital printing, designers can use AI to rapidly prototype designs to share with clients, improving efficiency and flexibility throughout the design process. In case you were curious – yes, Fres-co can work with you to print AI-generated images onto your products. Reach out HERE for a Quote.

What do These Trends Mean for You?

Our team of flexible packaging experts can help you determine the sustainability, efficacy, and shelf life of your current solutions, and help you think through what Fres-co provides that will push your product into the future. Remember — packaging continues to be just as important as the product itself — helping to attract new customers on the shelves and online, extend shelf life, support sustainability efforts, and more.

As a flexible packaging innovator, we offer in-house R&D capabilities, technical service, and operational support that you can leverage to arrive at the best possible packaging solution for your needs. Contact us at contact@fresco.com to learn more about how we help you.

For more than 40 years, Fres-co System USA, Inc. has manufactured high-performance flexible packaging systems and invented dozens of innovative breakthroughs including degassing valves, modified atmosphere technologies, and reclosure systems.

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