The packaging industry applies smart and sustainable solutions to make the packaging of products more respectful with the consumer, the brand and the environment. The key trends in the packaging industry that are enabling smart packaging are the Internet of Packaging, active packaging and nanotechnology. However, as the COVID-19 pandemic has kept people indoors, packaging from online purchases poses the serious challenge of producing waste. Therefore, startups and expansions are accelerating innovation around biodegradable, recyclable and edible packaging. At the same time, the use of 3D printing and robotic packaging simplifies packaging processes and reduces costs for consumer companies.
Innovation Map outlines the top 10 trends in the packaging industry and 20 promising startups
For this in-depth investigation into major trends and startups in the packaging industry, we analyzed a sample of 2,907 global startups and expansions. The result of this research is data-driven innovation intelligence that improves strategic decision-making by giving you an overview of emerging technologies and startups in the packaging industry. These insights are gained by working with our solutions based on big data and artificial intelligence.StartUs Insights Discovery Platform, covering more than 2,500,000 startups and scale-ups around the world. The platform quickly provides a comprehensive overview of new technologies in a specific area and identifies relevant startups and expansions at an early stage.
The innovation map below provides an overview of the top 10 packaging industry trends and innovations impacting packaging companies around the world. Additionally, the Packaging Innovation Map features 20 handpicked startups, all working on new technologies that will advance their field. Just contact us for personalized information.
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The tree diagram shows the impact of the top 10 trends in the packaging industry.
Based on the Packaging Innovation Roadmap, the following tree diagram illustrates the impact of the top 10 packaging industry trends. Startups innovate to make packaging smarter, more connected and more interactive. This is done through QR codes, Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags, Augmented Reality (AR) and Internet of Things (IoT) based sensors to detect food spoilage. Growing consumer awareness is encouraging companies to adopt circular packaging solutions by using biodegradable and recyclable materials such as post-consumer resins, bagasse, hemp and polylactic acid (PLA). Digital printing on packaging is another major trend impacting packaging supply chains. With AI-powered robots performing the monotonous pick-place-palletize-inspect packaging processes, packaging automation is also revolutionizing the industry. The food, beverage, cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries use active packaging to address the problem of product spoilage. Also, 3D printing and custom packaging allow brands to stand out and attract more consumers.
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Global startup heat map includes 2,907 startups and packaging expansions
The following global startup heat map shows the global distribution of the 2,907 exemplary startups and scale-ups we analyzed for this study. Created by theStartUs Insights Discovery Platform, the heat map shows that most of these companies are based in the United States, while we also see increased activity in Europe, particularly the United Kingdom, as well as India.
Below, you'll learn about 20 of these 2,907 promising startups and expansions and the solutions they've developed. These 20 startups were handpicked based on criteria like year founded, location, funds raised, and more. Depending on your specific needs, your best options may look very different.
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Top 10 trends in the packaging industry in 2023
1. Internet of Packaging
The Internet of Packaging brings a technological revolution to traditional packaging and allows consumers to better connect with brands. Smart packaging uses technologies such as QR codes, smart tags, RFID chips and NFC (Near Field Communication). These innovative solutions offer added value in the areas of security, authentication and connectivity and turn product packaging into a data carrier and digital tool. AR packaging offers businesses the opportunity to better engage with customers by presenting them with a variety of product content, discount codes, and video tutorials. Additionally, IoT devices allow brands to embed diagnostics and visualization features into their packaging, providing customers with real-time product conditions.
Langgeng Sukses Abadi Technology offers Anti-Counterfeit Solutions
indonesian startupLanggeng Sukses Abadi TechnologyoffersQTRUST, a counterfeit protection solution. The startup integrates QR codes and cloud computing to allow brand owners and customers to verify product authenticity. The startup installs unique security codes on each product, allowing brand owners and retailers to track items throughout the supply chain. This is done through the portal and web-based applications.QTRUSTit enables brands to engage with customers, deliver the right brand story, and run customer survey campaigns. The startup's mobile app allows users to check product information, store location, transaction history, and earn reward points.
TrackLegit allows product tracking
startup eslovenaTrackLegitcreates an IoT-based smart packaging solution for product tracking. It combines NFC (Near Field Communication) tags on product packaging, blockchain, and a cloud software platform to track products throughout the supply chain. This allows brands to identify counterfeiting activities, spot discrepancies, and verify product authenticity. The startup also offers customers a mobile app to review this supply chain data, enabling a new communication channel for customer engagement in the food, pharmaceutical, and textile industries.
2. Biodegradable packaging
Plastic has been the most widely used packaging material since the early 20th century. However, its slow rate of decomposition causes widespread environmental problems. As consumers become more aware of the negative consequences of single-use plastic packaging, they are demanding green alternatives. Biodegradable packaging and films are gaining in importance and are a suitable replacement for conventional plastic packaging. For example, starch, cellulose, PLA, polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB), polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA) and other biopolymers. Other than that, plant-based packaging made from sugarcane, coconut, hemp, and cornstarch is also replacing plastic packaging. These innovations are economical for companies and reduce the environmental impact of the packaging industry.
OCEANIUM develops compostable seaweed packaging
OCEANis a UK-based startup that makes products from sustainably farmed seaweed. The startup sources algae and then uses refinery technology and marine science to get the maximum benefit from the plant. Produces a biopackaging material,MARITIME GOODS, an all-natural and home compostable organic packaging that replaces conventional use and disposable packaging. The first version of its packaging is intended for composting for soil health or for anaerobic digestion for energy.
LAM'ON produces corn-based film packaging
bulgarian startupLAM'ONproduces 100% compostable and biodegradable laminated films and film packaging. The startup produces a packaging film made of polylactic acid (PLA),PACK'ON, obtained from corn. The use of silver nanoparticles as antibacterial additives in the film and its oxygen barrier properties make the solution suitable for food packaging. Film and foil break down into natural materials like water, carbon dioxide, and compounds. The product's polymer strands are biaxially oriented, making it durable and less prone to tearing. Beyond,PACK'ONdoes not indicate migration of oils and other elements, which makes the product safe for food and cosmetic packaging.
3. Digital printing
The packaging printing process presents many challenges, some of which are accuracy, poor color quality, and high labor costs. This offers the opportunity to innovate the process with digital printing and make it one of the main trends in the packaging industry. Unlike traditional offset or flexo printing techniques, separate plates are not required for different prints. All content is digitally printed in a single pass, reducing the amount of work involved. Modern digital printing has limited environmental impact, as it eliminates the need for pre-press processes or additional labeling, thus reducing waste and inventory. With shorter lead times and more flexibility, digital printing allows brands to customize packaging to appeal to different subsets of consumers. Direct thermal printing is another printing technique that uses thermal imaging and is used to print labels and flexible packaging without using ink.
Flexible Pack offers digital printing for flexible packaging
flexible packageis a US-based start-up providing digital printing for flexible packaging. Use an HP Indigo digital press to print on flexible packaging, bags, shrink sleeves, and labels. The startup's technology offers gravure matching quality along with a wide color gamut, increased productivity and high-quality automated finishing. The technology also makes it easy to print variable data, such as barcodes or QR codes. The startup also supports printing on heat sensitive materials.
Copy4LessNY offers packaging and label printing services
US HomeCopy4LessNYoffers printing services for packaged products and labels. It offers digital printing for corrugated boxes, cartons and foils with fast turnaround times. Additionally, the startup offers individually printed labels for products.
4. Packaging automation
The biggest challenges related to packaging are productivity, precision and quality control. Automation of packaging processes such as picking, filling, packing and palletizing is a major trend in the packaging industry. Automating packaging with the use of robotic arms and grippers not only eliminates human error, but also ensures safe handling of delicate products. Finally, startups are also developing AI-enabled imaging systems that take photos of finished products to analyze packaging quality. These vision-based robots automate processes like product sorting, quality control, and inspection to increase overall efficiency.
Wootzano manufactures ingenious robotic systems for food and vegetable packaging
Wootzanois a UK-based startup that makes robotic systems for handling extremely delicate objects. The startup's robotic system is capable of performing functions such as cutting, picking and packaging fresh produce such as tomatoes and grapes. The robots use machine learning algorithms to perform their tasks and adapt to changing environments. Additionally, LiDAR is used for inspection automation and weight estimation. The robot's hand, covered in electronic skin, has high sensor capabilities that allow it to handle delicate products without squeezing them. It also predicts the useful life of products, which in turn allows manufacturers to reduce waste.
CoRobotics offers co-bots for packaging and palletizing
Polish startupCoRoboticsBuild packing robots to perform a wide range of repetitive packing tasks. HisSmartPalettiereris an easy to program robotic solution that automates the entire palletizing and depalletizing process. Configuration is done via user-friendly software with palletizing parameters. It is also possible to replicate layers or configure different palletization schemes. In addition, the user must enter the size and number of paddles, as well as the position of the robot and the use of spacers on the touch screen. Besides theSmartPalettiererconfigures and performs the palletizing or depalletizing of one or two pallets. Other features of the robot include sensors to detect the presence of pallets and boxes at the end of the line.
5. Active packaging
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)one thirdof all food produced for consumption worldwide is wasted. Food waste is a major challenge that needs to be addressed as it often causes businesses to suffer huge losses. Active packaging increases product shelf life and is a growing trend in the packaging industry, finding applications in the food, beverage and pharmaceutical industries. For example, modified atmosphere packaging uses oxygen or ethylene absorbers and humidity regulators to keep food fresh. Another example of active packaging releases antimicrobial agents to prevent bacterial growth in the product.
SoFresh manufactures active packaging film and packaging
So freshis an American packaging startup that develops food-saving packaging. The startup is developing techniques to encapsulate food-grade natural extracts in sheets or containers that release controlled active vapor into food. Mold spores absorb the steam and slow their metabolism to the point where they struggle to survive. SoFresh packaging products include bread and bakery packaging, wraps, lids and barrier laminates. Their active packaging solution enables companies to extend food transit time, shelf life and consumption time to reduce spoilage and waste.
Impactful Health R&D develops compostable active packaging for fish
Kanadisches HomeShocking Research and Development in Healthdevelops a packaging solution to extend the shelf life of fresh fish. The startup offers an active technology based on films with antibacterial components of natural origin. The film is biodegradable and meets Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requirements for oxygen transmission rates. It is also useful in vacuum packaging applications and preserves the texture of the fish. The startup's solution can significantly extend the shelf life of fish. This allows fish sellers, resellers and the aquaculture industry to minimize losses.
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6. Custom packaging
The appearance of a product plays an important role in attracting consumers to a product. Therefore, packaging is as important a marketing tool for companies as the product itself. The challenge for brands is to make the packaging eye-catching to drive sales. Making the unboxing more personal and unique is key to creating a lasting impact that will keep customers coming back to the brand. A good example is Coca-Cola's popular "Share a Coke" campaign, where names were printed on the packaging for a personal touch.
PACKMOJO designs 3D models for custom packaging
PACKMOJOis a Chinese startup that allows companies to design their custom packaging on its online platform without hiring a designer. The platform also allows the brand to preview their design in 3D and get instant price quotes. The startup promotes sustainability by using packaging material that consists of 50% post-consumer waste. Also, they use eco-friendly inks like soy ink for printing and water-based varnish instead of lamination to seal the ink.
HUIDE PACKAGING manufactures kraft paper bags and boxes
FLEE PACKAGINGis a Chinese startup that designs and manufactures custom paper packaging solutions. The startup's in-house packaging engineers specialize in creating a structure that protects the item from damage. In addition, the graphics team creates a design that aligns with the company's brand strategy and shows a 3D mockup of the final design. Before mass-producing custom packaging, the startup turns packaging ideas into tangible prototypes. It also offers rapid manufacturing of custom packaging using automated machinery and 8-color water-based flexo printing. Finally, the design and decoration of the packaging is carried out with machines capable of stamping, UV spot, embossing and embossing, glossy lamination, varnishing, etc.
7. Recyclable packaging
As countries ban single-use plastics, companies are now seeking alternative materials for product packaging to comply with regulations. Using recyclable materials is one such packaging solution that allows companies to incorporate circular packaging practices. For example, post-consumer resins (PCR) are recyclable packaging materials derived from post-consumer waste. Otherwise, start-ups develop easily recyclable single-material packaging instead of multi-layer packaging.
Boostani develops single-material packaging
dutch startupThis postdevelops monomaterial barrier packaging to replace non-recyclable multilayer packaging and reduce plastic waste. Boostani offers mono-material packaging masterbatches and compounds with barrier properties. It uses additives in small proportions to create a barrier instead of different layers of plastic, making it recyclable. All of the materials the startup uses are FDA-approved and suitable for food packaging.
Ecoplastteam obtains raw materials from waste
Ecoplasteamis an Italian startup that produces an ecological raw material from waste. The startup producesEcoAllen, a regenerated granules based on polyethylene and aluminum. It is obtained by using proprietary technology to recycle tetrapacks, which are made up of layers of cellulose, plastic and aluminum.EcoAlleneit is an infinitely recyclable material, it is dyeable and has a shiny texture. The material has high formability, which is why it is used to make packaging bottles.EcoAlleneit is also used in the fashion, construction, and consumer goods industries.
8. Edible packaging
Packaging follows the use and disposal model and as such is a major contributor to solid waste, which ends up in landfills or the aquatic environment. That's why businesses and consumers are moving in the last decade.sustainable packaging. The challenge for companies is to choose containers that meet this basic functionality and also reduce or eliminate solid waste. Edible packaging is a revolutionary trend in the packaging industry that meets these challenges and also allows for a closed packaging loop. A good example is the milk protein packages that are used as a casein wrapper around food. These films keep food fresh better than plastic. Startups that produce edible spoons, straws, or other cutlery items also supply chain restaurants, cafes, or ice cream parlors with plastic substitutes.
Decomer Technology manufactures edible packaging material
Decomer Technologyis an Estonian biotech startup offering an edible and water-soluble plant-based packaging material. The startup's material is tasteless, transparent and hypoallergenic and is used in food, detergent, pharmaceutical and agricultural packaging. your product,HonigDrop, is honey packaged in edible packaging material.mix dayis another product from the startup, a blendable plant-based superfood pillow pack that can be consumed by mixing it into smoothies. outer shell outsidemix dayIt consists of pectin and colorful superfood powders.
Kulero manufactures edible cutlery
Spoonis a German startup that produces edible cutlery. With its edible and sustainable cutlery alternatives, the startup meets the demand for disposable cutlery. Edible cutlery is made from multigrain flour, salt and water. Additionally, spices, herbs, or cocoa powder are used to add flavors. Kulero Vegan Spoons are durable, lasting 30 minutes in hot liquids or soups and 60 minutes in cold dishes. The startup has already managed to replace 5 million plastic spoons. It currently offers a range of products including edible spoons, edible straws and cups, and compostable bowls and plates.
9. 3D printing
3D printing is a growing trend in the packaging industry, allowing companies to build multiple prototypes and innovate their packaging line in near real time. Brands often experiment with packaging designs that are expensive, time consuming and wasteful. 3D printing technology mitigates these issues and allows for custom packaging without contributing to plastic waste. Technology offers engineers and designers more design freedom and enables them to produce high-quality products. Manufacturers also use additive manufacturing technology to produce prototype packaging machine parts, for example by printing robotic arms for a specific packaging line.
tForm develops thermoformed plastic packaging solutions
US Homeformcreate quick and hassle-free custom solutions for thermoformed packaging. To optimize packaging solutions and reduce lead times, tForm combines computer-aided design (CAD), 3D modeling, 3D printing, proprietary mold designs, and lean manufacturing techniques. The startup uses the most easily recyclable plastic to minimize its environmental impact. It provides packaging solutions for the medical, automotive, industrial and electronic markets. Additionally, the startup sells stock shipping trays for industrial and medical applications through its online store.
Knurls creates 3D printed packaging
wanderingis a US-based startup that makes 3D-printed packaging. startup technology,wandering pack,It is used to package locally made or manufactured products in 3D printed packaging. The packaging can be printed partially or completely around the product. The printing process uses materials such as plastic, metal or ceramic.
From packaging materials to product security, authentication and tracking, nanotechnology has applications at various stages of the packaging supply chain. The use of nanoparticles mixed with polymer chains improves the barrier properties and tensile strength of the packaging. It also enables tracking and anti-counterfeiting for branding and packaging companies. Additionally, nanotechnology is having a major impact on the food packaging industry by addressing growing concerns about food safety. The application of nano-coatings to the packaging surface protects it from dirt, dust and stains. Finally, different types of nanosensors are useful for monitoring food freshness and detecting chemical changes.
CelluloTech manufactures cellulose-based materials
CelluloTechis a Canadian nanotechnology startup focused on cellulose-based materials. The startup's solution replaces plastic liners for various types of packaging with a fully renewable mono-material alternative. Its proprietary technology replaces plastics, waxes and other non-biodegradable materials used in cellulosic packaging. In addition, CelluloTech's Green Chemistry processCROMATOGENIA, makes any cellulosic material, such as paper or cotton, permanently hydrophobic.
Arylla develops invisible inks for connected products
Kanadisches HomeArilaoffers smartphone-readable invisible ink to make products traceable. The proprietary ink uses nanotechnology and is imperceptible to sight or touch. Label providers use the ink to print unique identifiers or labels with Arylla's small footprint, low cost inkjet stations. The tag platform integrates with third-party software to provide personalized customer experiences, combat counterfeiting, and improve traceability. The ink can be printed on a variety of materials, including woven labels, packaging, hand labels, and patches. Its use in luxury items facilitates product authentication and prevents counterfeiting.
Discover all the packaging technologies and startups
The top 10 trends in the packaging industry bring innovative changes to the packaging industry. Soon, product packaging will have advanced functionality while still serving its basic purpose. Innovations around packaging with integrated LED lighting, color-changing packaging, and oxygen and moisture scavengers will transform the packaging industry. Additionally, subscription-based models for refillable or returnable packaging will significantly reduce waste production and combat single-use plastics. The use of sustainable inks such as soy, water and UV inks for printing will also continue to increase.
The packaging industry trends and startups outlined in this report only scratch the surface of the trends we identified during our in-depth research. Among others, smart packaging, interactive and personalized packaging will transform the sector as we know it today. Early identification of new opportunities and new technologies to implement in your organization goes a long way to gaining a competitive advantage. Get in touch to easily and fully explore relevant technologies and startups that are important to you.