PACKAGING NEEDS ARE CHANGING AS BOOMERS AGE

CHICAGO (FNS) -- "In the future, packaging will be lightweight, easy to open and extremely portable," predicted a packaging-equipment manufacturer who spoke at the recent All Candy Expo here.Fred Erler, vice president of Nordson Corp., Duluth, Ga., an equipment manufacturer and chairman of the Packaging Machinery Manufacturers Institute, outlined some of the trends in food packaging, along with projections

CHICAGO (FNS) -- "In the future, packaging will be lightweight, easy to open and extremely portable," predicted a packaging-equipment manufacturer who spoke at the recent All Candy Expo here.

Fred Erler, vice president of Nordson Corp., Duluth, Ga., an equipment manufacturer and chairman of the Packaging Machinery Manufacturers Institute, outlined some of the trends in food packaging, along with projections for future equipment purchasing.

"Personalized packaging" will show up more and more, he suggested, with designs to fit the demographics of a product's target market.

"Consumers are getting older, and their packaging needs are changing. Containers will become smaller, easy to read, easy to open and reseal and easy to store," he said.

"More proprietary container shapes will be developed to reinforce brand identity," he added.

Erler sees a shift away from heavy, rigid containers to lightweight, portable ones, with, for example, plastics continuing to replace glass and metals.

Globalization is another major trend in the packaging industry, he said, spurred by universal acceptance of new technologies such as the aseptic pouch, first used in Europe, and, especially, the Internet, which permits manufacturers in any location to deal with equipment and packaging suppliers anywhere.

"Global marketers such as Procter & Gamble and Nestle are demanding packaging that can be used around the world," Erler said. "The concept of taking outdated equipment technology and shipping it overseas is false and won't work.

"The Internet will profoundly change the way we do business. All business is local in the cyberworld, and customers will expect business to respond to their needs with the speed of a double-click."

The third major trend for packaging-equipment manufacturers will be the demand by customers for simpler, smaller, more flexible machinery "to handle a wide range of packages and sizes," he predicted.

The demand for packaging equipment continues to grow, according to a recently released study of the purchasing plans of U.S. companies, Erler said, with equipment purchases expected to grow 5% to 6% this year.

The food industry is exceeding the overall estimate, with planned equipment purchases 7% to 8% ahead of last year, he noted. The food industry shows the third-highest projected growth rate in equipment purchases, behind pharmaceuticals at 12% to 15% and beverages at 12% to 14%.