Consumer demand for pet products and services is expanding into almost every area which has typically been reserved for human consumption. The petfood packaging industry has responded to the requirements set by this trend of pet "humanization" and the corresponding demands of pet owners. This trend is moving fast in the European Union, Japan and other high-income countries. Even in developing countries, there are segments of the population which follow the same trends. The relation of the humanization trend to the family income level is well documented by sociologists and anthropologists. It coincides with the fast economic growth observed in various countries. Food packaging is the main customer of the packaging industry, covering more than 50% of its global turnover.

Global packaging's future

A detailed and authoritative picture of the packaging sector worldwide is explained in a recent study published by the World Packaging Organization (www.worldpackaging.org) and PIRA International entitled The Future of Global Packaging Markets.

A section in the WPO/PIRA packaging report is devoted to new packaging material developments. The study covers 51 countries around the world with a total turnover approaching US$500 billion. A very important section of this study is the analysis of the key drivers and trends in packaging which will dominate the market. In Figure 1, the views of the respective national packaging member organizations for the next five-year period are summarized. The same trends dominate the petfood packaging sub-sector.

Packaging innovations

Parallels indicate that petfood packaging follows the same rules and practices as the trends in packaging for human food. Pet and human food packaging develop along the same lines and make use of the present and future developments in packaging science and technology. High-performance packaging has been developed with strong barrier characteristics and processing efficiency. Active and intelligent packaging design gives better protection to both the product and user, and improves environmental performance and supply chain efficiencies.

The following describes some of the trends coming in the future for petfood packaging:

These capabilities have been made possible through the development of new technologies aimed at the strengthening of materials through new formulations and processes.

Look for articles on these packaging trends in future issues of Petfood Industry magazine.

Beyond the box?....
In summary, here are the major packaging trends affecting the future of the petfood industry.
  • High barrier materials;
  • Active packaging;
  • Antibacterial packaging;
  • Intelligent packaging;
  • Digital printing for packaging;
  • Down-gauging/lightweight materials; and
  • Improved convenience.