Shape-shifting packaging and hidden streams: 7 Key Trends


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Picture Copyright: Healthy Beverage Expo 2013
Picture Copyright: Healthy Beverage Expo 2013

Related tags Beverage industry Coffee

The US beverage industry is poised to introduce packaging that molds to the shape of your bag by 2020, according to industry analysts exploring seven key future trends.

Analysts Brian Keating, Phil Lempert, Rob McCaleb, Ian McLean and James Tonkin made their bold predictions on behalf of the forthcoming Healthy Beverage Expo 2013.

Here is the second-part of our two-part article series – you can read the first part here​ – that covers their white paper ‘7 Key Changes the Beverage Industry Must Accept’.

4. Water

“Water is probably the most healthful beverage in the world, in the sense of being essential to life and health. However, when the right nutrients are added to water, it becomes more healthful, providing potential benefits far beyond just hydration,” ​according to Rob McCaleb, president of the Herb Research Foundation.

A surplus of different water brands with additives such as fiber and vitamins, as well as “overused coconut”​ led one to ponder where we went from here, he added.

As an ingredient water had become hot property, as beverages had reformulated to use waters from different regions that added appeal to beverages, McCaleb said.

‘Supermarket guru’ Phil Lempert believes this change will be visible as early as this year. “The stories of ‘hidden streams’ combined with natural flavors, teas and even sugars brings beverages, especially carbonated ones, to a new image.”

5. Distribution and E-tailers

Keating predicts that greater beverage industry consolidation will change distribution models, with small independent stores struggling for life between large e-tailers, booming chains and big box discount outlets.

Tonkin says the online marketplace will enable smaller businesses to reach new audiences and increase once marginal sales, with brands able to speak for little or no cost directly to core audience about product features and benefits.

6. Global Sustainability

While ‘sustainability’ has been a buzz word for some years now, McCaleb  said that a product that was both certified as organic and fair trade “is as close as we currently have to a definition of ‘certified sustainable’".

He said that he expected consumers to push for more explicit facts regarding integrity in this respect, since marketing speak sometimes outstripped actual work on sustainability.

From 2013-2020, Keating said he thought the beverage industry worldwide would further embrace ‘all things green’, including the provision of more social programs (since the sector also struggles with turbulent weather) "using costly technologies that can help farmers deal with an onslaught of relentless growing, processing and labor obstacles".

7. Packaging

The sustainability trend means that previous packaging methods do not satisfy consumers, Lempert said, but great strides by the beverage industry in cutting plastics use was a short-term solution.

Intriguingly, he encourages consumers to look for more beverages offered in glass or aluminum containers, with some plastics abandoned for adverse health effects and others retained.

Pepsi developed a bottle in 2011 that it claims is 100% and made of self-generated plant byproducts, while Coca-Cola developed both paint-free aluminum cans and square compostable bottles to lessen packaging impact.

“However, as of 2013, Coca-Cola has deemed these products as impractical and consumers cannot purchase them. Nevertheless, current packaging trends are shifting as they are considered unsustainable,” ​according to the white paper.

Smaller brand owners had taken a leading position in using recycled, recyclable and other earth-friendly packaging materials, Keating said, with some claiming a ‘totally green’ status due to use of entirely compostable packaging materials.

“By 2020, we will see the rise of new non-petroleum based single-serve containers, which are semi-flexible and allow for being molded into shapes that conform to pockets, handbags and other cases,” ​Lempert said.

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