5 Transformative Realities Across the Packaging Landscape
EQUAL CONCERN FOR PRODUCT, MATERIALS, AND TRANSPORTATION
Supply chain disruptions cause concern almost evenly across key functional areas of packaging: product-related concerns were the top concern for 34%, packaging material-related concerns for 41%, and transportation-related concerns for 25%.
Expert take: “With material delays happening in virtually every industry, we’re working with more and more companies who have embraced a substrate-agnostic approach. This translates to improved availability for a wider variety of materials, which allows us to look at alternative stocks and production methods without losing momentum.”
BRIAN TECHTER, SVP, RRD Packaging Solutions
MISSED DEADLINES AND EXTENDED TIMELINES
65% have missed deadlines due to supply chain disruptions. 86% reported increased timelines for a typical project. 41% said projects took up to 4 weeks longer than usual, another 31% said they took up to 3 months longer than usual.
have missed deadlines due to supply chain disruptions
PRICES INCREASED, SUPPLY DECREASED
Material price hikes and supply shortages have presented the largest challenge over the past year, with 52% of respondents strongly impacted by material price increases, 46% by supply shortages, 37% by staffing challenges and 36% equally strongly impacted by increasing demand and speed to market requirements.
Some what impacted
Did not impact at all
Expert take: Gaining production efficiencies in the face of today’s volatile market isn’t impossible. Structural engineering can uncover several opportunities, including designs that reduce a package’s footprint. The use of less material — or alternative, more-readily available options — also helps introduce new freight and storage savings.
JOE SCHEWE, Director of Structural Packaging Design & Engineering, RRD Packaging Solutions
ONLINE SHOPPING DRIVES PACKAGING NEEDS
E-commerce has increased over the past 1-2 years for over half (57%) of respondents. Of that, 92% have seen their organization increase packaging needs due to the increase in online orders.
This has caused a need for increased inventory, warehouse space, material substitutions, and staff.
have increased packaging needs due to online orders
SILVER LININGS IN SUSTAINABILITY
Almost all (94%) agree that sustainability is a key consideration in packaging and label decisions. 66% of respondents said they have shifted to more sustainable packaging than what was used previously. Interestingly, 55% of respondents said recent supply chain disruptions moved their companies closer to their carbon emissions goals compared to further away.
Expert take: Brands continue to use less material and are turning to recycled materials — both of which are helping them move toward more sustainable packaging. Due to limited supply of virgin fiber, now is an excellent time to conduct a structural design engineering review. We often see this due diligence translates into material usage savings through the use of lighter weight paperboard materials as well as a smaller packaging footprint.
LISA PRUETT, President, RRD Packaging Solutions
Reality Requires Willingness
There was a broad willingness to pivot to different packaging materials in light of recent industry challenges — over one third said they were extremely willing (36%).
And a majority of organizations (81%) did make changes to packaging design over the past 1-2 years.
made changes to packaging design
These challenges have forced organizations to reprioritize packaging materials (68%), reprioritize budget (52%), reprioritize packaging design and aesthetics (49%), and sustainability goals (45%).
9 out of 10 respondents indicated that recent disruptions to the global supply chain have caused their organization to change how packaging is sourced; including:
- 62% that have moved to more diversification of suppliers
- 42% who have outsourced manufacturing/fulfillment
- 39% consolidated with fewer suppliers
- 30% substituted specs
- 26% reshored to the United States
Over the past 1-2 years, the majority of packaging decision-makers are planning ahead by 2-4 weeks.
Expert take: Material availability disruptions, labor shortages, and transportation challenges will impact supply chain timelines for the foreseeable future. Know that advance notice is a powerful tool. A greater focus on forecasting, contingency plans, early order placement and acceptance of longer lead-times, these are all things that can help ensure availability and protect against those late-in-the-game disruptions.
LISA PRUETT, President, RRD Packaging Solutions
The top source of guidance or information on packaging is from suppliers/vendors or direct manufacturers, with 78% of respondents agreeing. Following that is industry associations or publications.