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How Has The Pandemic Changed the Packaging Industry?

Effects of Covid-19 on Packaging Trends

Pandemic Impacts

Every part of our lives was affected in some way by the Covid-19 pandemic, so it is no surprise that one of the industries that we interact with the most, sometimes without even realizing, saw a significant amount of upheaval in the way it was expected to conduct business. Whether it was through automation in factories and warehouses or the way consumer habits changed, the global pandemic has made it necessary for a top-to-bottom re-evaluation of points of focus and targets for the packaging industry. Fortunately, there are many positives to be taken from this re-evaluation, such as increased importance on consumer safety, attention to long-term sustainability and even growing profit margins.

Emphasis on Hygiene

From the start of the pandemic, hygiene has been a major concern. Ripples from fears of virus transmission are felt across the packaging industry, from people making fewer trips to stores to wiping down exterior packaging when in the safety of their own home. Research shows that 69% of Americans are more concerned about food safety now than they were before the pandemic began. At the height of coronavirus fears, over 40% of consumers were cleaning food packaging with household disinfectants.

Pandemic Impacts

It is important to adapt packaging design to this emphasis on hygiene, especially for food packaging. This can be as simple as providing larger orders for restaurant take out containers and ensuring they can be transported safely. For pre-packaged foods, peel-off films and tamper proof packaging are good ways to ensure consumer safety. An irony of this situation is the communication of safety-based design changes to potential buyers is almost more important than the actual changes themselves. Coding on packaging can be a great advertising surface!

Rise in E-Commerce

As we will discuss shortly in regards to sustainability, some of the changes to the packaging industry were already trends before the coronavirus pandemic. However, lockdowns, fears for safety and issues with the global supply chain have accelerated these forecasted trends from several years down the line to right now.

Since the advent of the Internet, online shopping has been steadily rising, but the pandemic caused a massive spike in the market share of e-commerce. Specifically in relation to groceries, more people than ever are completing all of their shopping online. In the quest for cost-efficient delivery systems, packaging that was originally created to be convenient and attractive for store shelves and displays must be redesigned for direct-to-consumer delivery. There are a variety of new variables to focus on, such as extra padding or protection, extending expiration dates for perishable goods, or re-evaluating the shape and size of boxes to maximize space in smaller delivery trucks.

Pandemic Impacts

An unforeseen side effect from the rise in e-commerce is consumers reckoning with their waste footprint. Consumers who are spending more time at home than ever before can’t avoid packaging that was previously tossed in a dumpster behind a big box store or food waste thrown away in the kitchen of a restaurant.

Desire for Sustainability

Sustainability has always been a concern for consumers in some capacity, but there is an accelerated desire for recycling and sustainable packaging models amidst talk of climate change and a newfound awareness of the global supply chain.

Consumers are pushing for sustainable packaging, and there are a variety of ways to achieve that goal. It can be as simple as using less layers for individual products or as bold as Coca-Cola creating a new sustainable form of plant-based plastic. Linking back to an emphasis on hygiene, biodegradable plastics are not just good for the environment; they are more porous than virgin plastics—making them more likely to kill virus particles faster. As more sustainable methods are developed, companies are discovering consumer desires can actually help their bottom line.


GCB Solutions has the experience and the resources to help you through any packaging problems you may be facing. Whether you are just beginning the design process or looking to make that final push to launch, we can help.

Call us at (904) 263-2804 or schedule a free consultation, today!


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