The future of food and drink packaging

13 December 2019
By – Mike Sweeting

The future of food and drink packaging

As we are about to enter a new decade the studio has been thinking about the current climate and how this is going to impact how we interact with food and drink through packaging. It’s exciting to try and predict the many different ways the future of packaging could go. But if we look at how trends have developed over the last year we can start to see a pattern developing: a pattern that shows an increase in expectations of brand responsibility, a changing of our consumer habits and new clarity of messaging techniques.


For many years now the affects of climate change have been taking their toll on the way we consume, as we are becoming more aware of the growing issues that our planet is facing, we are looking for ways to cut back on plastic pollution. People have started looking to big brands in the consumer goods industry to make drastic changes in they way in that they package products as a whole.

Paper, hemp, starch and cellulose are new plastic alternatives currently trending. In response to growing customer concerns and expectations, supermarkets are also introducing loose fruit and vegetables and using more biodegradable packaging in order to decrease their overall plastic wastage.

Major drink brand Coca Cola has started a world first by making 300 test plastic bottles made from 25% of plastic waste from the Mediterranean sea and beaches.

The bottles were designed and produced to show the ‘transformational potential’ and as of 2020 the brand are looking to develop it further and are planning to roll out this enhanced recycled content in some of its bottles. They have also announced that by 2025 all of their products will be 100% recyclable and the brand have already started by changing their packaging from plastic shrink- wrap to cardboard alternatives.

Another example is Carlsberg, creating the world’s first paper beer bottle.The paper beer bottle is one element of Carlsberg’s company campaign ‘Together towards zero initiative’, which includes the company’s commitment to reach zero carbon emissions by 2030. There are currently 2 prototypes of the bottle; they have both been sustainably sourced with wood fibres and have ‘inner barrier’s’ allowing the bottle to hold beer.

Carlsberg has also invested in a number of other sustainable solutions to stop their plastic pollution e.g. recycling shrink film, greener label ink and snap pack, this will replace the plastic packaging around its six pack cans.

Coca Cola and Carlsberg have started to on their quest for a more environmentally friendly product, as are many more big brands. There are many benefits for big companies to go green, not only will it reduce their environmental impact but also have a healthy impact on their brand reputation. 70% of consumers aged between 15- 20 years old want to buy goods from companies that are showing how committed they are to sustainability. Therefore companies must make changes in order to keep up with on going consumer and environmental needs, trends and changes.

Design packaging trends coming up in the next decade


The future of packaging design is set to take the minimal route, whilst this has been an on going trend of 2019 it is set to continue into the next decade. ‘Less is more’ seems to have been an influential style, allowing strong products to shine through, whilst creating a brand personality and supporting the environment by reducing packaging materials. Common packaging types are transparent and plain; this is seen to appeal to the consumer more so than attention grabbing designs.

Neutrals, pastels and simple patterns

Continuing from minimalism brightly coloured packaging is being left in the past and neutrals, pastels and simple patterns are taking over. By creating a sleek and clean look like Apple and Nike have already been doing for years. Brands are likely to create a blank canvas for their logo and company name to stand out on the shelves instead of eye-catching packaging.


These days people want healthy food that they can grab and eat on the go, packaging is adapting to meet the consumers needs by offering smaller or individual sized packaging. 62% of millennial’s tend to snack throughout the day instead or having breakfast, lunch and dinner. New lighter weight packaging solutions are being produced to reduce fuel and energy used in transit, reducing the overall carbon footprint of companies. People also want non-tip pouch designs and zippers so that products are easy to store, use and stay fresher for longer.

Hello fresh for example provides healthy fresh recipe boxes to your door, this is a more convenient style of shopping that is ideal for busy consumers that want convenience and the chance to cook from scratch. Hello Fresh’s packaging is robust, attractive and protective to keep products fresh. They have recently rebranded boxes by increasing packing space by 17% and made their packaging 100% recyclable.


In order to stand out and survive businesses need to be more creative with their packaging and brand image. It is competitive out there, especially for new brands, therefore they need to connect with the audience and create a brand story. This helps brands to stand out; it also helps create emotional connections, start conversations and involves the consumer within the heart of the business.

American ice cream brand Van Leeuwen originally had overwhelming packaging when they redesigned to a clean, plain branding on the front and a short brand story on the back they has an increase in sales by 50% and 80% of interest building from Instagram.

The future of packaging trends is definitely green! Brands are heading in the less is more direction as well as putting a stop to plastic pollution. Minimalism and plastic alternatives are the way forward for 2020 and beyond!

We’re a team of creatives who believe that our individual abilities and perspectives are amplified when we come together to create change for our clients.

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