Current Trends For Packaging And Packaging Printing In Europe

Western Europe is third in the world for packaging, after Asia and North America. It is not surprising that the factors that will determine its future are so ubiquitous.

The EU Green Deal has a significant impact on this sector. It has ambitious targets for long-term recycling and re-use, and is dedicated to reducing waste packaging and packaging that is not necessary. All these topics have in common the need for high-quality recycled plastics, and the use sustainable materials.

Digitalization is also transforming the packaging industry, just as it has in so many other industries.

Sustainable Packaging

Everybody is promoting the importance of sustainable packaging, from governments to product manufacturers. Growing environmental awareness is driving the demand for recyclable and biodegradable packaging. In fact, consumers are willing to pay higher prices for goods packaged in environmentally friendly packaging.


The digitalization of the packaging industry creates new and efficient opportunities in all aspects of the supply chain. From initial packaging design, to package reception and opening.

In the upstream part of the chain, there are opportunities for more digital integration among packaging designers and pre-press specialists. This allows them to develop concepts and designs at the same time, saving time by sharing data. This also helps to reduce the likelihood of mistakes occurring early in the design process.

The digitalization of the downstream includes the adoption of labels which can be read and scanned using technology. QR codes will also benefit interaction between consumers and suppliers for manual downloading, etc.

Other trends shaping the packaging sector

In addition to the megatrends of digitalization, recycling and re-use, design trends that focus on the consumer experience also play a role in today’s competitive landscape. Below are some of the trends identified by researchers in the industry that will have a major impact on the next few years.

• E-commerce brings its own requirements for packaging design and e-commerce packaging is emerging as a sector in its own right, where packaging design is conceived specifically for that intended use by companies that sell on-line. 

This segment is constantly changing, and the need for packaging that meets the needs of the customer requires flexibility, protection, strength and robustness. Lightness is required without compromising the quality.

The experience of the consumer at that point must be engaging, so that opening the product becomes a pleasure. Product returns are high in the online retail sector. Packaging must be robust enough to survive this journey.

In the ecommerce packaging industry, sustainability is also important as single-use materials are now deemed undesirable. Future advances will see a greater use of expanded polystyrene and bio-based plastics. Amazon is one of the biggest online retailers in this sector.

• Haptic design is gaining ground so that consumers have a more tactile experience when choosing products. Raised printed type, foil embossing and creative cutting are examples of this. They make packaging more interesting to hold.

The trend in this sector is moving away from luxury products to mainstream items. This is another area where digitalization plays a major role. It opens doors for small businesses to participate in the trend. This is mainly a perception of high quality.

• Minimalism is also creating a buzz within industry, especially given the urgency to reduce packaging waste. It is important to avoid reducing the experience of the consumer when opening the products. The packaging-consumer interface must also not be compromised.

• 3D printing technology opens up high-tech access to the development of custom-made shapes. This is especially useful for packaging goods with unusual contours or profiles. It can also be used to solve some of the problems associated with producing containers that have more complex morphologies.

• Nostalgic trends are seen by researchers as conveying security to consumers and this is being witnessed through retro influences from the 1950s, 1970s and 1990s. This desire for familiarity and security is partly a result of the way our lives were shaken by the COVID era.

• Seamless designs on packaging that run continuously from front to back and to the front again are also emerging. Hence 360° designs like these offer distinct advantages that make a striking visual difference when it comes to shelf appeal.

• Smart packaging is also making gains, especially for food where sensors can be used to indicate ambient factors such as temperature and humidity. Smart packaging for food allows consumers to get nutritional information about the products contained.

• Food packaging is increasingly shifting towards designs that illustrate the food contained inside in the box. Simple illustrations are a trend here, and they are achieved through bright colors.

• Personalization is increasingly valued by consumers and its demand for fast turnaround and rapid changeover is ideally suited to the digital print sector.

Digital printing unites it all

The digitally printed package is expected to gain huge popularity in the future, with many advantages for the industry. Digital printing can help to achieve a strong growth in the commercial packaging industry and reduce waste.

Other advantages of digital printing directly onto packaging materials such as paper, cardboard and transfer films enhance its attractiveness for low-volume packaging and make small-and-medium-sized prints more cost-effective.

Digital printing is also helping to support the trend of personalization. It allows companies to interact with clients better and enhance their brand image. The ability to create unique printed designs for different products and materials is another benefit of digital printing.

Future Market Insights’ new report Digital Printing Packaging Market 2023-2033 highlights some of these trends for the future of packaging printing. So attractive are the benefits of digitally printed packaging that the value of the sector is expected to increase by 66% between 2023 and 2033 – a sure indication of the right technology being harnessed at the right time. Now!