The world does not exist in a vacuum, and the current crisis is affecting the packaging industry, just as it affects everything else. Anyone who interacts with the packaging industry, including companies who manufacture products that require packaging, should be aware of the impact on the industry, so they know what to expect.
Reductions in Packaging Supply
One of the biggest challenges is the reduction in available packaging supplies. This comes from a combination of factors. Earlier on in the crisis, China was the first country to be hit hard, and that country is an industry leader for product packaging. This led to a reduction in production there and, therefore, a reduction in supplies around the world. Thus, those who previously used Chinese-sourced materials had to look elsewhere.
As the crisis has spread, this issue has expanded to some extent. In some areas, facilities that produce the packaging have had to close due to being “non-essential.” In other areas, they have to operate at a reduced capacity. This further decreases the supply.
Other Supply Chain Disruptions
In addition to the reduction in the actual production of packaging materials, the crisis has also affected the supply chain. Companies that package products have had to reevaluate their supply chains as various parts of the world are shut down or operate at an extremely reduced capacity.
The Return of Plastic
For years, there has been a strong push away from plastic, especially single-use plastics, due to environmental concerns. Many product packaging manufacturers have moved from plastic to more sustainable options, and product manufacturers have sought out these eco-friendly manufacturers.
However, with the current crisis, plastic is deemed to be safer by some. Plastic tends to be considered more reliable and helps reduce the spread of the illness. Plastic also has a longer lifespan, which is vital if the product sits on shelves for longer before being used, whether on store shelves or shelves in people’s homes.
An Increased Focus on Sanitation and Safety
There has also been an increased focus on sanitation, hygiene, and safety measures. While these have always been important in product packaging, and every other industry, this has been taken to an extreme with the current crisis. Facilities that make packaging, as well as packaged products, must be extra-cautious to ensure that products and packaging are not exposed to the infection.
A Drive for Tech
Due to the risk of disease spreading, there has also been a drive for actions like automation and technology that can reduce human interactions during packaging. This includes social interactions with each other as well as those with the products and the packaging materials.
Increased Demand for Packaged Products
Even with the challenges that the industry is facing from the current crisis, there are some silver linings. People are becoming more inclined to purchase packaged products over those that are unpackaged, as this reduces the risk of contagion. This has led to an increase in demand for packaging, including items like fresh produce that is not traditionally packaged. Similarly, it has increased the demand for products with extra layers of packaging, while the previous trend was to reduce packaging materials in an eco-friendly move.