2019/05/13 Executive Forecast: The State of Flexible Packaging in 2019 (part 1)

Executive Forecast: The State of Flexible Packaging in 2019

Source from:

 February 4, 2019

Eric Fish


Digital printing. The continuation of rigid-to-flexible. Recyclability. The ongoing importance of product differentiation. Combating the negative stereotypes of plastic. These trends — and a whole lot more —are covered in our annual executive forecast.

We caught up with representatives from Nordmeccanica, TC Transcontinental, MACtac and Bumble Bee Seafoods to give you a well-rounded, comprehensive view on the flexible packaging industry from the respective perspectives of an equipment manufacturer, converter, supplier and CPG. Here’s a look at what each of them had to say from their position in the industry for our annual forecast:

The Converter

You’ll be hard-pressed to find a converter that’s had a more eventful past few years than TC Transcontinental Packaging. Though the Canadian-based converter came in at No. 18 on our annual Top 25 Converters list last summer, the company is poised to make a big jump this year thanks to three 2018 acquisitions — Industries Flexipak, Multifilm Packaging and, perhaps most significantly, Coveris Americas. Prior to its spree of 2018 purchases, TC Transcontinental acquired Capri Packaging, Ultra Flex Packaging Corp., Robbie Manufacturing and Flexstar Packaging. Flexible Packaging recently caught up with Rebecca Casey, TC Transcontinental’s VP of marketing and consumer market development, for insight from a converter’s perspective on flexible packaging in 2019:


On 2019 from a converter’s perspective:

Casey: For TC Transcontinental Packaging, 2019 will be another year marked by growth. Market and product development will be at the heart of our activities and is part of our strategy for the year to come. We will continue working with our current clients and other potential clients to develop and commercialize products that meet their expectations as well as the consumers’ needs. First, we plan to focus on developing sustainable products that are 100 percent recyclable or compostable, and we will look at convenience and ready-to-eat products for on-the-go snacking, portion control and cooking methods. On the technology side, we plan to work on shelf impact and personalization, thanks to EG printing, coatings and prepress, as well as converting products from other formats such as plastic tubs, paper and glass.

On challenges and opportunities in the near-term:

Casey: Without any doubt, the biggest challenge awaiting the flexible packaging industry for 2019 is sustainability. For us, that means creating a circular economy where all the players from sourcing, manufacturing and end-of-life management are involved and accountable to create the perfect sustainable packaging. We believe that we need to work as a team with the CPGs to reach this objective together. Another challenge that arises from sustainability is education. Educate consumers and CPGs on the value of plastic for food packaging. We need to explain the benefits of food packaging and debunk the myths around the topic. As for opportunities, research and development will be at the top of our priorities to develop intuitive packaging for the consumer.

On company goals for 2019:

Casey: TC Transcontinental has always diligently integrated best practices in sustainable development as part of its business activities and processes. We’ve always been committed to maintaining our leadership in corporate social responsibility (CSR). In 2019, we will release our next CSR plan, which will present detailed objectives reflecting our commitment for sustainability in packaging, and our concern for the health and wellbeing of the communities we serve.

Another important goal for TC Transcontinental and the packaging sector will be to attract, develop and retain top talent. Building careers one hire at a time, we will reach out to universities and colleges and build strong relationships with them to grow our pool of talent. We will also make sure to leverage the expertise and know-how we have gained from our acquisitions to become a top leader in flexible packaging in North America. At TC Transcontinental, employees are the backbone of the organization.

On the integration of Coveris Americas:

Casey: Our fiscal 2018 was marked by three strategic acquisitions, allowing TC Transcontinental Packaging to expand its manufacturing capabilities and enhance its product and service offering. On May 1, 2018, we completed the transformational acquisition of Coveris Americas, which has considerably expanded our presence with the addition of 21 production sites. It allowed us to expand our product offering thanks to best-in-class manufacturing capabilities and greater film manufacturing capabilities. Furthermore, in the wake of this acquisition, we are well positioned today across a broad range of growing end markets within the flexible packaging industry, namely dairy, pet food, agriculture and consumer products. Today, we are happy to say that the integration is going well. We continue joining our respective expertise and strengths, and we are working together to create value for the 3,500 loyal customers of Coveris Americas that we welcomed, many of which are leaders in their markets.

The Supplier

To get the perspective of a supplier, we reached out to Kim Hensley, Mactac’s marketing manager. As a label supplier, Mactac had a significant 2018, and arguably the highlight of its offerings was the release of its CHILL AT adhesive designed for cold temperature label applications. Hensley says the label industry is as strong as it has ever been and believes product differentiation will continue to drive labeling innovation in 2019 and beyond.

“We need to give customers a competitive advantage to avoid competing solely on price as costs rise,” she says.

Here’s a look at what else Hensley had to say:

On what’s trending in labeling:

Hensley: Brands continue to seek and stand out with special effects that give perception of quality, employing a variety of effects, such as varnishes, textures and specialty inks in addition to vibrant, colorful labeling solutions. Also popular are clear films that give a “no label look,” as the label looks like it was printed directly onto the container.

Customers are also demanding more convenient packaging for their food and beverages, household, cosmetics and other products. And while it is important to get the aesthetics right, the functional performance of the packaging can be improved through the right special effect solutions. For bulk packaging, the reseal feature is a major selling point to keep contents fresh. Brand owners benefit through long-term brand awareness when packaging is continuously reused as a result of the reclose/reseal function of their packaging.

On the importance of product differentiation and the role labeling plays:

Hensley: Differentiating product offerings to stand out from the competition is more important than ever. Brand owners are trying to capture a certain look. With only seconds to persuade potential customers, the labels on containers are just as important as the product inside. With a goal to stand out as much as possible, we need to help brand owners with product differentiation such as unique adhesives, specialty facestocks (i.e., metallic, clear no label look) to make products stand out and to give the perception of quality.

On challenges in 2019:

Hensley: Labor costs and material costs are continuing to increase and companies plan to put their business out to bid in 2019. As costs continue to rise, we need to give customers a competitive advantage to avoid competing solely on price.

Additionally, the need for small job opportunities has led to the growth in digital printing technology to enhance opportunities and generate additional revenue. With these small job opportunities, converters want to be able to order what they want when they need it, without stocking a large amount of inventory.