Gazing into the crystal ball this month, we have Ruth Price from rigid plastic packaging manufacturer Sharpak Aylesham giving us some insight into how industry trends may affect things in the coming year (see Viewpoint feature).
It seems the company did the sensible thing while in attendance at last year's Fruit Focus, the fruit industry event held annually in the depths of leafy West Kent, by asking fruit growers, producers and packers what packaging providers could do to help their businesses.
Clearly, bringing down costs was on the agenda, along with - less feasibly perhaps - devising ways to ameliorate the unpredictable nature of the British weather (from which many thousands across the country, both rural and urban, are suffering to record levels at the time of writing).
But more interestingly, nearly one third of those responding to Sharpak's questions emphasised the importance to their business of innovation on the part of their packaging companies - driven no doubt by continued pressure from their own customers, the retailers, to develop extended shelf life solutions for fresh foods, and novel product presentations.
Fortuitously, at the end of this month (26-27 February), easyFairs is running the latest iteration of its Packaging Innovations exhibition at the NEC in Birmingham, UK. At this annual celebration of all that's current in packaging, visitors from all sectors, not just food producers, will be able to uncover the latest technical and cost-saving developments in the field, and identify bright ideas for new ways to present their products.
Indeed the topic of 'The BIG Packaging Debate' at this year's show will be whether increasing complexity in the supply chain is resulting in packaging being designed more with the supply chain in mind than the consumer. Our preview in this issue (see features section) offers a sample of what will be on display around the stands at Packaging Innovations.
Innovation and new product development are also at the heart of another major sector in packaging: pharmaceutical and healthcare. In this month's issue of Packaging Today, we are fortunate to be given insight into the process (see features section) by Guido Schmitz, head of packaging and technology innovation at Bayer HealthCare.
With the raft of functions, both statutory and commercial, now being demanded of packaging in the pharma sector, all while bringing down costs of course, Schmitz argues that packaging design must be involved at the very beginning of the NPD process - advisable, surely, across all product sectors in which packaging is making an increasingly vital contribution to the supply chain as a whole.