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Our latest research is live: unwrapping the internal environment

05/01/2024

Beverage

Food

Metal packaging

Our latest research is live: unwrapping the internal environment

This year, we commissioned a new survey of international food and beverage packaging professionals. It has revealed the extent of innovation within the food and beverage packaging industry, and how this is impacted by internal operations.

You can access the insights here!

Last year, our Unpacking Innovation in 2023 report revealed overwhelming support for innovation among packaging professionals from multiple sectors, including food and beverage – with 96% in that group agreeing that new developments in packaging were important. This echoes the sentiments we see across the industry and the media about the competitive race to innovate and the choppy waters ahead for those who do not follow suit.

But with so many factors to consider when evaluating an innovative approach, what is actually happening in food and beverage packaging?

Our new data ore than 1 in 5 (22%) saying that their company is not usually able to follow up on the innovative ideas it comes up with.

So, why is that? Well, this was a big question. To answer this, we began by delving into the internal operations of companies in these industries. After examining the data, compiling multiple reports, and consulting experts from across the globe, we found four key factors within these internal environments:

Talent and operation size

When respondents were asked how their business had fared over the past five years, almost half (47%) said their company has had to make layoffs. This is more likely to be the case with US based respondents at 58%, compared with an average of 44% in Europe and 45% in Asia. Our experts hypothesized that this is likely due to companies taking advantage of technologies that support leaner operations or allow funds to be released as a result of reducing headcount.

Access to expertise

Expertise was also a key factor explored in our latest report. We found that 35% of professionals working with organic materials expressed a lack of expertise as a barrier to innovation. To fill knowledge gaps, overall, 61% of US respondents are looking for support from a partner for innovation, compared to just 39% in Germany. Yet, those from the US are also most likely to agree that they have expertise in-house for growth and innovation.

Steve Davis, Global Director of Product Management, explains in the report: “In the US they generally run leaner operations, which could mean they are more likely to bring in a partner. They know where their gaps are and want to seek support from a short-term external partner rather than hiring people in the long term.”

Investment in new technologies

Another factor that featured heavily throughout our research was technology. We found that 60% of professionals who had been in their roles more than five years feel their organization is making sufficient investment in new tech, versus 47% who have been in their role for less than five years.

Our experts believe this is likely due to experience and appetite for change. However, with so many possible applications of the two technologies that came out on top in the research, data acquisition and data analytics, what type of education and support needs to be offered to ensure companies are making informed decisions and not missing out on potential efficiencies?

Agility and response to innovation opportunities

More than 1 in 5 (22%) respondents don’t agree that their company usually follows up on the innovative ideas it comes up with. For professionals working primarily with cardboard, only 41% agreed that their organization would be able to react to innovations, compared with almost two thirds (58%) of plastics professionals.

Our experts suggest that this is probably due to the operation set up of the plants, where a change in approach to cardboard packaging would require retooling – something that is a significant investment. Whereas in plastic there is more flexibility to innovate within the manufacturing process and therefore makes it easier to respond quickly to opportunities for innovation.

Looking ahead

So, what does this mean for innovation in the future?

Despite the obstacles associated with these factors, there is hope for innovation, with 41% of professionals saying their company is planning to take an innovative approach in the next three years. Also, organizations are being forced to plan ahead and assess their internal operations to make careful, considered decisions about which innovation opportunities to take. Ultimately, this helps to maintain the quality and safety required for all industries.

Dive into the research and access our free report, ‘Innovation in Food and Beverage Packaging: Unwrapping the Internal Environment’ here!

Don’t forget to keep an eye out for the next instalment in our research series too. We’ll be examining the external factors influencing innovative approaches in food and beverage packaging – coming soon!

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