Packaging trends will focus on sustainability and the reduction of global food and product waste in 2018, according to market intelligence agency Mintel.

Mintel predicts that the coming year will see trends toward food and waste reduction, the enhancement of the e-commerce experience, the adoption of clear and succinct packaging messages, and the conservation of marine life.

“The throwaway culture of today will evolve into one that understands and embraces the role of packaging as a primary means to reduce global food and product waste,” says David Luttenberger, global packaging director for Mintel.

The focus is now on packaging innovations that extend freshness, preserve ingredient fortification, and ensure safe delivery.

Packaging will also play a pivotal role in the e-commerce industry, Luttenberger says.

“As more and more consumers embrace online shopping, packaging will play a pivotal role in brands’ and consumers’ e-commerce experiences,” he notes.

As online shopping becomes increasingly popular around the world, the design of packaging to be viewed online, as well as that used for shipping, must reflect consumer expectations of shopping with that brand in-store, says Luttenberger.

“Aiming for packaging designs that enlighten consumers’ purchase decisions, brands will reject approaches that offer too much or too little as they can leave shoppers more confused than informed,” he says.

Consumers now have more tools at the disposal than ever when it comes to make informed decisions about purchases. Brands, however, will find themselves at a disadvantage if consumers feel overloaded with information, which will ultimately make them question the provenance, authenticity, and transparency of the product, says Luttenberger. Trending now is the essentialist design principle, which bridges the divide between not enough and just enough of what’s essential for consumers to make an enlightened decision about their purchase.

Marine life and preserving the world’s oceans is another key trend for 2018, Luttenberger says.

“Plastics packaging adrift in the world’s oceans will become the catalyst driving brands to rethink packaging in a context consumers can understand and act upon,” he notes.

Brands will turn their focus to awareness in the coming year and communicate that they are working toward a solution to this problem. Some brands have already started using plastics recovered from the oceans in their plastic packaging.

Among other trends in 2018 are transparent packaging materials. Customers are more frequently visiting fresh and chilled aisles in the grocery store, searching for fresh, minimally processed items.

The use of transparent materials, contemporary design, recyclability, or unique shapes will draw in younger shoppers, Luttenberger says.

“Our packaging trends for 2018 reflect the most current and forward-looking consumer attitudes, actions, and purchasing behaviors in both global and local markets,” says Luttenberger. “Such trends as those we see emerging in e-commerce packaging have stories that are just now being written. Others, such as the attack on plastics, are will into their third or even fourth chapters, but with no clear ending in sight. It is those backstories and future-forward implications that position Mintel’s 2018 packaging trends as essential to retailer, brand, and package converter strategies during the coming year and beyond.”