The packaging demand patterns of the different productive sectors have been tremendously altered with the coronavirus crisis. For example, the forced stoppage of economic activity has caused the purchase of packaging to drop drastically in areas such as the B2B industry, fashion or the world of luxury. In contrast, so-called essential sectors have had to reinforce their stock with more products to pack to protect merchandise and speed up order picking.
Specifically, food and e-commerce have had to evolve at a forced pace to satisfy the requirements of a confined population. However, now that the crisis is de-escalating and the new normal is near, what will happen?
Let’s find out.
Food packaging, protagonist during the COVID-19 crisis
A McKinsey analysis of the packaging industry’s coping with the pandemic estimates that, with the quarantine, 14% of Americans increased their food consumption, and 1% bought more household products. These figures contrast with the fact that 50% cut their usual spending on clothing, 47% on footwear and 38% on makeup and skincare.
For supermarkets, the situation derived from the expansion of COVID-19 has been a challenge to adapt to customers who:
- Buy more, because the consumption of food and beverages that previously made the channel profitable now takes place at home.
- Make more home and ‘click and collect’ orders.
- Have qualms about purchasing unpackaged or bulk food.
This has crystallized, according to McKinsey, in increased use of cardboard boxes and stretch film by supermarkets and hypermarkets. Likewise, the lifting of strict measures of social distance favours the flourishing of home delivery and takeaway, which translates into greater investment in take-away food packaging by restaurants.
E-commerce packaging for fast-paced digitization
In a complementary way, and to save a business that is impossible to maintain in physical environments, online sales have been the other great beneficiary – and source of great demand for packaging – from this crisis. The packaging for e-commerce, like white postal boxes, plays a crucial role in areas such as pharmacy, one of the most active due to:
- The mass purchase of protection products against the coronavirus (such as masks, hydroalcoholic gels or gloves).
- A new interest in self-care, to preserve health during confinement.
Packaging products most sought by online stores during the pandemic
During the health emergency, there has been a notable increase in new customers in the segment of products for e-commerce. 14% of them come from the world of leisure, sports, and DIY; 8% corresponds to beauty, electronics, children’s, furniture and accessories for the home; 6% to the food industry; and bars/restaurants and pharmacies account for 3%, respectively.
The most requested packaging products for e-commerce are:
- Filler and protective packaging, 25% increase.
- Plastic bags with zip closure, 23% increase.
- Cardboard boxes and postcards, 21% increase.
Packaging demand in the new normal
As the post-covid reality looms, it is expected that the sector demand for packaging will return to the previous situation. However, there are several trends derived from the disruption by COVID-19 that will last for at least several months:
Plastic and corrugated cardboard will establish themselves as the preferred packaging materials for companies. The first, because it is perceived as hygienic and safe; the second, because some studies suggest that the survival of the coronavirus on it is lower than on other surfaces. A Verdict survey confirms that the demand for plastic has increased by 44%, and that of cardboard, by 32% as a result of the outbreak of the pandemic.
Single-use options will gain traction over reusable ones, at least initially. The COVID-19 alarm has increased the consumption of single-use items. However, laws continue to ban single-use plastics in the medium term. Although a draft Law on Waste and Contaminated Soils seeks an exemption for cutlery and household items from this.