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Research Reveals the Biggest Factors Fuelling Innovation in Beverage Packaging Industry

Packaging research from Industrial Physics highlights how waste reduction and cost considerations are driving change for professionals in the beverage packaging industry, leading to innovations in manufacturing and testing processes.

The global packaging, product, and material test and inspection leader undertook a worldwide survey of packaging professionals operating across industries. 71 percent of respondents working in the food and beverage packaging sector believe it is very important to explore new developments in packaging. However, the survey found that there are key challenges to overcome in the context of packaging innovation. Limited performance and durability were highlighted by two thirds of respondents (65 percent) as the biggest material-related challenge in packaging innovation.

Steve Davis, Product Line Director at Industrial Physics, commented, “With performance proving a key focus area for packaging professionals, the beverage industry is looking at each stage of the packaging lifecycle to innovate and gain advantages. While some industries are completely replacing materials, the beverage industry is looking at what can be done to make materials even more effective for their application. In canned drinks, for example, aluminium is the most suitable material due to its durability and strength to withstand the pressure of carbonated beverages, therefore instead of replacing it, innovators are making it even more efficient for their application through processes such as lightweighting.”

Lightweighting is one approach that food and beverage packaging decision-makers are taking to overcome one of their largest challenges in packaging innovation, the cost of materials (60 percent). The manufacturing process allows them to reduce the overall amount of material required to create metal packaging, while maintaining the durability and performance needed to protect the contents of the can.

The research also revealed that although ensuring the quality of packaging is the overarching motivation for those innovating in the food and beverage industry (69 percent), reducing materials still tops the list when it comes to the biggest developments on the horizon in the next five years (52 percent). Just under half of respondents in the sector also cited material choice as an area that could lead to big developments in the coming years (48 percent).

Steve continued, “Beverage packaging companies are also looking into how testing processes can support their innovation goals. In addition to the development focus on material reduction, 61 percent of professionals cited waste reduction as their top goal for packaging innovation, which is why we have seen a rise in methods such as non-destructive seam inspection. Traditionally, seam inspection required the destruction of a can to analyze it, however, the new approach allows manufacturers to reduce waste by eliminating the need for can destruction, processing a high volume of cans more quickly and facilitating early intervention where a defect occurs.”

Questions around packaging investment uncovered a strong sustainability focus for the food and beverage sector, with the top three areas including:

Recyclability - 60 percent

Reducing waste - 59 percent

Reducing the use of plastic - 43 percent

Steve concluded, “Reducing plastic bottles in the beverage industry remains a focus for many businesses in line with sustainability goals and legislation. Following a sharp rise in can manufacture of the past few years, businesses are now benefitting from a smooth transition from PET to metal cans and bottles. Their endlessly recyclable nature, and the developments underway in manufacture and testing processes, mean that there is plenty of advantage to be gained. However, the testing equipment and processes required for metal packaging in comparison to PET are very different. To ensure the safety and quality of the packaging, companies must ensure they can access the required expertise and equipment.”

To read more about the packaging research and how innovation is impacting the international packaging industry, download Industrial Physics’ free report here

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