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Packaging Trends 2021

22 Feb 2021

Packaging Trends and the influence of COVID-19

Karine Dussimon, Analyst at Euromonitor International, explains in a 5-Minute video interview, what packaging trends currently determine the market and how COVID-19 will influence packaging innovations.

ProSweets Cologne has summarized the main facts of the Euromonitor International interview in the following article.

Which packaging is trending among confectionery and snack manufacturers?

Plastic-based packaging represents nearly 80% of all retail snacks packaging globally in 2020 vs. 16% for paper-based packaging, widely recyclable. Flexible plastic largely dominates, although it is grown at a healthy 3% CAGR in the last 5 years, pouches still the most dynamic pack type at 12% CAGR. Their re-closability being perceived as valuable by consumers. Folding cartons and flexible paper making progress in snacks packaging which is imperceptible at world level in 2020, but promising for the coming years.

How does COVID-19 influence the subject of packaging?

There are three directions of travel for packaging innovation in snacks, which all very much influenced by COVID-19.

1. - Value and home snacking formats – Toughening economic conditions and a boom in planned shopping online (share of e-commerce for snacks went from 3% in 2019 to 5% in 2020, whilst impulse sales went down) are currently dominating. Moreover, consumers shift from single-serve formats to multipacks and larger pack sizes for better value for money. But there are also new snacking occasions as we spend more time at home and work from home. We value the social times within the household, and sharing snacks, e.g. Netflix occasions.

During stockpiling in early 2020 alone, the 10 to 16-oz snacks pack size bracket in the US (283g-453g) grew the most with an 87% increase in US$. In the UK PepsiCo and Golden Wonder saw their ‘share packs’ grow faster than most other pack sizes, too.

For example: In the UK Walkers Taste Icons crisps launched with flavours of popular restaurants in bigger sizes than standard: from 32 to 50g for the grab bag version, from 12 to 15 unit multipacks. Kellogg's new range of snacks for the home in the US grew also in size: Rice Krispies Treats Homestyle Bars are over 50% bigger than the standard 22g Rice Krispies Treats bars and allows to write a customized note on its wrapper. Note how this often cannot just be more affordable, it also needs to be seen as value-added. For brand owners, boosting margins and value sales when single serve packs have lost momentum across retail and FS impulse channels means premiumising their offering.

Walkers Taste Icons

Walkers Taste Icons (Source: https://www.talkingretail.com/products-news/crisps-snacks/walkers-adds-price-marked-packs-to-taste-icons-range-03-08-2020/)

Rice Krispies Treats

Rice Krispies Treats in bigger packaging (Source: https://www.ricekrispies.com/en_US/products/treats/rkt-squares-homestyle-original.html)

2. - A visible push towards sustainable packaging – this was not really visible in snacks till now. But there is an increased use of materials with a higher recyclability profile across snacks categories but mainly among mature markets, as way to premiumise a proposition, to stand out. Sustainability is not yet a priority in consumers’ minds, but COVID-19 has caused consumers to want even more purpose from their food brands.

Examples: Paper-based materials that are deemed widely recycled are, in places, substituting flexible plastic eg. Kit Kat introduced flexible paper in Japan in late 2019, Mars Galaxy Kenz premium tablets in an envelope style folding carton in the Middle East. There is still much to be done in the sustainability space, notably through clearer labelling and ‘better’ plastic alternatives. For example, new flavours of the Magnum tubs launched in 2020, made of recycled plastic and Irish snack bar brand All Real Nutrition released a bio-based flexible pack claimed to be compostable.


Magnum Cup made of recycled plastic (Source: https://packagingeurope.com/magnum-launches-new-tubs-made-with-recycled-plastic/)

3. - 3rd avenue for packaging innovation in snacks is the delivery of a quality experience at home beyond the pure consumption of the product. That is another way the boom in e-commerce is to influence future snacks packaging. Good protection against impact is critical, particularly for brittle products and savoury snacks. For instance, triangular folding carton “tubes” are a better option than standard flexible bag for Doritos Stax.

Doritos Stax

Doritos Stax folding carton „tubes“ (Source: https://www.talkingretail.com/products-news/crisps-snacks/doritos-moves-cannister-snacks-stax-launch-14-04-2020/)

Perhaps more importantly, snacks remain an escape, something pleasurable; now consumers cannot socialize outside easily, give or receive gifts in person or go to a Kit Kat specialty store. Snacks players need to look beyond the consumption experience and provide more consumer-product interaction through the unboxing experience. In Austria, for example, major sweet biscuit brand Manner offers customers its Mini Mix gift box for Easter this year; a pop up folding carton that opens into a board game using its chocolate figures as game pieces. This is offering a fun activity for the household whilst enjoying the chocolate.

Manner Creative Snacking

Manner Creative Snacking Game Set (Source: https://www.packagingstrategies.com/articles/95851-cardbox-packaging-receives-carton-austria-award-for-confectionery-packaging)