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The Bruges Group spearheaded the intellectual battle to win a vote to leave the European Union and, above all, against the emergence of a centralised EU state.
The Bruges Group spearheaded the intellectual battle to win a vote to leave the European Union and, above all, against the emergence of a centralised EU state.

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Spearheading the intellectual battle against the EU. And for new thinking in international affairs.

How COVID-19 is Impacting the Packaging Industry


How the Coronavirus Pandemic is Impacting the Packaging Industry 

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses have been hit hard. Initially, many businesses were forced to close their doors because of the shutdowns.

Since then, only a handful of businesses have recovered. Although the economy has opened back up, many industries are still struggling, including the packaging industry.

The packaging industry is being affected in two ways: there is a shortage of materials and consumers expect a higher level of health and safety from product packaging. These two issues are deeply connected.

It's going to become harder for manufacturers to meet consumer expectations for health and safety if they can't easily get their hands on packaging materials.

The economic shutdowns are still impacting the packaging industry
It's hard to imagine the shutdowns affecting the packaging industry, but there are a variety of factors at play behind the scenes. Most of those factors have to do with the availability of materials and labour.

For instance, truckers have periodically gone on strike, and there have been several issues with cargo boats. For example, in February 2021, cargo ships backed up at ports in California because nobody was available to unload the containers. Not long after, the Ever Given became stuck mid-voyage in the Suez Canal, blocking all other cargo ships from passing.

Currently, people are experiencing problems getting packaging supplies that originate from China. China is a major supplier of packaging materials and the effects of a packaging shortage – if that's what happens – will be disastrous.

It seems odd to discuss the need for more packaging. Isn't the world supposed to be going green? Well, when it comes to the COVID-19 pandemic, health and safety (and even just the perception of such) come first.

Consumers are demanding more packaging in the name of hygiene
In a surprising turn of events that goes against the eco-friendly movement, consumers are now demanding more packaging. People want to feel safe when they bring items into their home. They want to know their product hasn't been touched or sneezed on by a bunch of people while it sat on the shelf.

Companies are redesigning their packaging to accommodate this new demand as best as possible. Open cut-outs are being eliminated, and products are being completely packaged in plastic from top to bottom.

Now that people are shopping mostly online, packaging needs to step up
Shipping is another thing manufacturers are thinking about. Manufacturers don't have any control over how their products are shipped by third-parties. Unfortunately, many companies ship products without properly packing them first.

Since consumers are buying products online more than before, manufacturers are trying to redesign their packaging to withstand a harsh shipment even if the product isn't properly packed. This can be a challenge for companies that don't want to spend the extra money and companies that don't want to change their packaging presentation.

Enclosing a product entirely in plastic is more expensive. It also eliminates a brand's ability to maintain their desired presentation of customized products. People don't want to open a package to get a better view of these kinds of products – they want to see the product in full while it's packaged.

Still, manufacturers are doing their best to support consumer demand. Many have realized that changing the way products are packaged can provide the psychological relief people are looking for in terms of hygienic packaging.

The demand for packaging is only increasing
With the increased demand for even more packaging materials than before, the packaging industry is seeing a demand that can't be met. Combined with the lack of materials being imported from China, companies that sell mass-produced products will start to suffer first. The reason those companies will suffer first is that they rely on generic, mass-produced packaging materials.

Companies that spend the time and effort to create customized packaging for their products will outlast those that rely on generic, mass-produced packaging. However, if the United States doesn't quickly find another source for packaging material, access to raw materials could start dwindling.

Can packaging meet hygienic expectations and be eco-friendly?
Perhaps the biggest way the coronavirus pandemic has affected the packaging industry is by creating a new dilemma that puts hygiene concerns above environmental concerns. Granted, most people understand that it may only be temporary. However, people may never feel safe with open packaging again.

Unless companies in Europe or the U.S. start producing packaging materials, the shortage will likely continue for some time. It's hard to say if or when people will place their focus back on the environment, but perhaps someone will come up with a solution that satisfies both consumer needs. 

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