JULY 2021

The health emergency that has affected the entire globe, generalized lockdowns and restrictive measures have changed our needs and purchasing habits, generating variations in market demands that have also involved the packaging and cardboard sector, which has recorded a considerable increased demand.

To imagine the volume of the new market demand, it is enough to think of packaging for the transport of all those essential products such as medicines, food and drinks, health equipment.

The new consumer buying habits

The new orientation of consumption was highlighted in an Italian research by the SWG Research Institute commissioned by Comieco, the data were presented in May 2020, it emerged that the concern for the virus has directed consumption towards packaged products and online purchases, preferring paper and cardboard packaging for safety and sustainability.

More specifically, the survey – conducted on a sample of 1000 Italian consumers – showed that 33% of respondents changed their shopping habits by preferring packaged products. If we consider only the consumers who, before the pandemic, habitually bought loose products, the data is even more significant: 46% of these turned back to packaged products.

In addition, paper and cardboard packaging are the first choice for 45% of the interviewees because they are considered more sustainable for 3 out of 4 Italians.

CEPI, the European Confederation of Paper Industries, provides aggregate data * on the countries of the Union. The first estimates indicate that the increase in packaging production of 2.1% compared to 2019 and, more specifically, + 3.3% in the production of corrugated cardboard boxes.

The growing trends are confirmed on a global level. In the US market, for example, according to the American Forest and Paper Association (AF&PA), the production of cardboard for packaging recorded a + 1% in June 2020 on an annual basis and reached + 5% in the first half of the year. An increase of 5% was also recorded in the production of cardboard for exports, which has risen to +34% since the beginning of the year.

Online shopping, food retail, customized packaging

The decline in industrial and commercial volumes has certainly had repercussions on the cardboard sector but the negative effect has been mitigated by the increase in e-commerce sales volumes.

About this, DS Smith took a survey of American consumers, and found that 65% of respondents increased their share of online purchases. It also notes that 85% of US customers will continue shopping online at the same rate or faster as the pandemic subsides.

In Italy, since the beginning of the pandemic, there are already 2 million new consumers online and this figure is destined to rise. A revolution that also affects the food consumption and is expected an increase of 23% in those food distribution formulas with home delivery, is about the food retail, for which packaging and its personalization have played a fundamental role in the new market and marketing dynamics.

* CEPI member countries: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom.