Pick your favorite word to describe 2020: challenging, unprecedented, unimaginable, once-in-a-century — you name it — the packaging industry experienced it. Taking a deeper dive, let’s look at how certain segments of the packaging industry fared during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Packaging Industry as a Whole

Consumer habits changed significantly during the pandemic, affecting the packaging industry. Home delivery of food and consumer products increased demand for packaging containers and the cartons they are sold or shipped in, including the ubiquitous Amazon carton. The e-commerce side of consumer products exploded.

Before the pandemic, some manufacturers were exploring “ships in own container” (SIOC) options. It relates to finding ways of optimizing products for e-commerce rather than for a brick-and-mortar retail shelf or food service. Experts predict that producers in the near future will aim to optimize packaging for specific channels rather than one-package-fits all.

During the pandemic, various industries were considered essential and were never locked down, including the packaging industry, food & beverage and medical, maintaining demand for packaging and tool & die components. In mid-April of 2020, the packaging industry continued to operate at between 83-95% capacity.

The main drivers during the pandemic, according to a report from Markets and Markets, “include the increased demand for ‘fast-moving consumer goods’ (FMCG), pharmaceutical packaging and rising e-commerce sales due to the lockdown.” We know that e-commerce and home online shopping are here to stay.

With the pandemic, we’ve seen a decrease in new products and new product innovations as industry sectors work to meet current demand. For example, end customers in the consumer product goods industry are focused on maintaining supply levels to grocery and big box stores and are not looking at new packaging designs. Converters and manufacturers are replacing old equipment with new equipment or ordering new equipment as backups to avoid potential disruptions.

For a company like IMPACT and many other enterprises, diversification has been a key to success. An increase in the demand for tool & die solutions in the medical industry countered a decrease in the demand in the automotive sector. By offering steel rule dies, flexible and solid rotary dies and the custom solutions for converters and manufacturers to fit their requirements, IMPACT helped its packaging customers survive and thrive during the pandemic.

To read the full article in Flexible Packaging magazine, please click here.