2014 Hot Markets: Packaging, Pharma Head ListJanuary 2014 By Vincent Mallardi, C.M.C.
This year (2014) will bring our industry back to 2005, but not sentimentally. Sales will decline 4 percent to the level of nine years ago, but smart printers chasing hot markets should experience positive growth. The losers will be lazy competitors who wait for a recovery that will not occur.
Instead, and better, is a paradigm shift where all we thought we knew is irrelevant and all we need to know is new. For at least some of us, this means providing multi-channel content and distribution, of course advocating print as a large and essential part of the mix. The only other option will be to exit or merge with other legacy printers; a well-underway loser strategy in the New Year.
Packaged Foods ($1.18T, +2 percent; with $17.0B to print, -4 percent) will continue to be the No. 1 buyer of both print packaging and advertising materials, but at a lesser total outlay. Because of higher costs of ingredients, the only place to save is through de-packaging and cutting back allowances to retailers.
FSIs will be worst hit, followed by plastics packagers. New designs in paperboard and thin films will utilize more cube space on retail shelves; taller containers; and more square ones including nested, stacked and printed-on-wrapper-only multi-packs. Litho carton and roll flexo providers will prevail, while litho jar labels, closures and metal decorated cans will recede—permanently.
Printed electronics on packages will replace "best before" notices, and the first intelligent fridges may alert shoppers on their smart phones what's running low, going bad or is needed to complement the meal possibilities on hand. Products that don't ask for a plate, spoon or a stove—mostly single-serve—will reduce food and energy waste. Multi-sensory elements on packages such as textures, sound, articulated movement, scents and hidden images will accompany local personalization: the high school football team on the Wheaties box, locally-grown tags on fresh foods, etc.
Supermarkets and other food retailers will commence the first major redesign of facilities in decades, reducing footprints, but dazzling the consumer with info-tainment rivaling Las Vegas. Near-pack, in-aisle, on-cart, end-aisle, on-shelf, dangle downs, near-field QR codes and augmented reality will engage as never possible before personal communication devices. Best performing segments will be pet foods (soon to be FDA regulated with new labeling), ready-to-eat, reusable-container single-packs and fresh foods minimally wrapped.