The COVID-19 pandemic has placed many industries at a crossroad of development. While some sectors have stalled, badly impacted by the health crisis, others have been more resilient and continue to survive. The packaging industry is one sector that has continued to adjust to the changing market trends during the pandemic.
International Plastics News for Asia had the chance to talk to Dr. Joseph Ross S. Jocson, Vice President of Asian Packaging Federation, and Past President and Chairman of the Board of the Packaging Institute of the Philippines.
Please tell us about the Asian Packaging Federation. What has been the main focus of its activities and projects lately?
Dr. Jocson: The Asian Packaging Federation (APF), a non-profit organisation established in Tokyo, Japan, in 1967, unites the packaging interests of all trade and industries in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond, under one co-operative umbrella.
The objective of the APF is to enhance cross-country co-operation among all packaging-related bodies, covering a lot of subjects like training and education, package development, environmental aspects as well as laws and regulations. The APF Secretariat rotates among the member countries and is current situated in Thailand.
Currently, the main focus of the APF is the upcoming AsiaStar awards wherein entries from different countries are judged for different categories in search for packaging excellence.
Dr. Jocson: Product designs are getting more visual but outer packaging are going back to the basics of simple designs as more people are doing online shopping. Efforts are now made to the protection of the product while on transport.
Dr. Joseph Ross S. Jocson
As the Vice President of the APF, what prominent packaging trends do you see in Asia now given the current health conditions and the "new normal"?
Dr. Jocson: With the ongoing pandemic that the world is facing right now, I can see that there are a lot of ongoing trends and developments on food packaging, especially for the delivery and take-out food packaging. As restaurants are not yet on normal operation, people tend to have these food items delivered.
Online shopping has increased a lot also during this time. Lazada, Shopee, Amazon, etc. has probably more than doubled their sales. Good transport packaging is needed to protect the deliveries of the products, from manufacturer side to the consumers.
How are these trends affecting the design concepts for packaging?
Another factor affecting design concepts is the impact of the materials in our environment. More and more people are getting environmentally conscious and other even look at the recyclability of the packaging before buying. This should be taken into consideration during the design. We should always go for sustainable development as much as possible.
What essential technological and material innovation do you think are necessary for packaging to meet the design trends?
Dr. Jocson: In terms of innovations, biodegradable and recycled materials is still a mainstay for modern packaging solutions. It is continually evolving to provide more effective, sustainable and Earth-friendly packaging for all kinds of products.
Constant material research and development are usually done by most converting and packaging companies to make the packaging fit the product. Developing environmentally friendly materials and also easy to recycle materials are always in the top most priorities.
What are your forecast on the plastics packaging industry during the pandemic and post-pandemic?
Dr. Jocson: The plastic packaging industry will still continue to thrive during this pandemic time and even after. Flexible packaging is still considered as the most convenient and economical way to preserve, distribute and package food items, pharmaceutical products, beverages and other similar commodities. Plastic is still one of the cheapest and versatile packaging material out there. We just have to be conscious of the design of the packaging, keeping in mind the cradle-to-grave concept.