The Complete Package

The Complete Package: packaging and labelling trends

By Rod Addy

- Last updated on GMT

Tetra Pak cartons
Tetra Pak cartons

Related tags Packaging & labelling Finance

In the first of a new digital series, Food Manufacture brings you the latest trends in the world of packaging.

Ten year roadmap for sustainable beverage cartons

The beverage carton industry has released a ten-year roadmap​ outlining goals for sustainable packaging, which it wants realised by 2030. 

The Alliance for Beverage Cartons and the Environment (ACE) and its members SIG Combibloc, BillerudKorsnäs, Elopak, Stora Enso and Tetra Pak, have committed to delivering renewable, climate-positive and circular packaging.  

Committing to measures to drive the whole industry forwards, ACE aims to increase the collection and recycling of beverage cartons to a 90% collection rate and at least a 70% recycling rate by 2030. It also aspires to the decarbonisation of the industry’s value chain.

The organisation aims to ensure beverage cartons are:

  • Made only from renewable and /or recycled material;
  • Fully recyclable and recycled;
  • Made entirely from sustainably sourced raw materials;
  • The packaging solution with the lowest carbon footprint 

“The industry has set high and ambitious standards for the next ten years,”​ said Annick Carpentier, ACE director general. “We look forward to fostering a dialogue with EU decision makers to ensure that the necessary regulatory conditions are in place to support the industry’s journey towards beverage cartons as the sustainable packaging choice for today and tomorrow.”

Jabil invests in paper-based packaging

Packaging powerhouse Jabil has invested $25m in subsidiary Ecologic Brand’s Manteca, California, location and a new paper bottle plant at its Sustainability Center of Excellence in Tortosa, Spain. Jabil acquired Ecologic in January 2021.

The company said the investment was in response to significant consumer packaged goods (CPG) market demand, citing Euromonitor claims that consumers were three times more likely to prefer paper-based packaging over metal or plastic.

Jabil said the investment would accelerate the maturation of paper packaging in commercial settings, from niche application to global scale.

“As consumers become more informed about the environmental impact of plastic waste, they are looking for new, sustainable packaging solutions such as paper. The challenge for packaging providers is the ability to scale production to meet this demand,”​ said Jason Paladino, senior vice president of Jabil and chief executive of Jabil Packaging Solutions.

“The expansion of these two facilities will result in a significant increase in packaging capacity for the North American and European markets, helping CPG brands in pursuit of challenging sustainability goals.”

Farne of Scotland_Coveris_Mar21

Farne of Scotland and Coveris deliver green luxury

Fish supplier Farne of Scotland has delivered a new branded range of products for UK retailers in partnership with packaging firm Coveris.

Part of the international gourmet Labeyrie Fine Foods Group, Farne of Scotland has a long history of supplying private-label fish products to leading retailers.

In September 2020, it ventured into luxury branded salmon and trout with the launch of Farne of Scotland Strong & Robust Smoked Salmon in Tesco.

Coveris designed a luxurious and recyclable envelope-style cartonboard pack using Forest Stewardship Council sustainably sourced and recyclable metallised board. It drew on specialist printing techniques to produce a combination of matte, gloss and embossed finishes for a premium look and feel.

Farne of Scotland is now set to expand its range with further products in the pipeline and confirmed launches in the UK retail market in 2021.

Sam Johnson, new business development manager for Coveris’ labels & board business unit said: “With this packaging we have achieved luxury visual and tactile appeal using responsibly sourced and recyclable materials, aligned with the sustainability values of Coveris and Farne of Scotland.”

Ethical Shellfish image 2

Ethical Shellfish Company in e-commerce packaging partnership

In collaboration with solid fibreboard specialist Northumberland-based CRT Packaging, corrugated packaging manufacturer Durham Box is supplying the Ethical Shellfish Company with e-commerce packaging to support the seafood firm’s online fresh seafood delivery service.

Isle of Mull-based Ethical Shellfish Company supplies hand-dived scallops, lobster, langoustine and crab to UK restaurants. 

Hit by pandemic lockdowns, the company established an online facility for directs delivery to chefs and consumers. 

“Since Coronavirus hit the UK in March 2020 we have had to think on our feet and reinvent,”​ said the Ethical Shellfish Company’s founder, Guy Grieve.

“It was critical that the packaging would ensure that the shellfish and other products arrived with the customer in the same condition as when they left us. Durham box was recommended to us by CRT Packaging to supply the required packaging - it was a good call, as they have excelled in meeting our expectations and the feedback from our customers has been superb.”  

Durham Box makes more than 40 million products annually from its 120,000m2​ factory. Central to their offering is a Nozomi C18000 single-pass, ultra-high-speed LED inkjet corrugated packaging press, providing Durham Box with the ability to produce short-run, well-designed corrugated boxes for e-commerce businesses and start-ups, printed with 100% low migration food safe inks.

Sappi soup pouches

Sappi and HP Indigo produce paper-based soup pouches

Sustainable packaging company Sappi and HP Indigo have teamed up to deliver paper-based, sealable soup pouches, using Sappi's Guard Gloss 4-OHG in a grammage of 91 g/m² for the soup pouches.

“Over 80% of the high-barrier paper’s materials originate from renewable sources,"​ said Kathrin Böhmüller, Sappi’s sales support manager for consumer goods and self adhesives. "The paper-based packaging solution makes additional special coatings or laminations redundant and the materials can be recycled in the paper stream.”

HP Indigo took over the design of the pouches at its Graphic Experience Center in Barcelona. The team developed the artwork for the pouches and six different and unique designs using HP Indigo’s proprietary variable data printing (VDP) capabilities.

For the printing process, a narrow-web HP Indigo 6K Digital Press was deployed, using HP Indigo’s full colour range, silver and special invisible yellow inks.

After printing, a water-based gloss coating with a high heat- and a high scratch-resistance was applied, avoiding extra lamination and protecting the printing and colour design. The finish, ACTDigi Protective Coating AQ440125 by global coating specialist ACTEGA, was specially developed for the flexible-packaging market, offering a high scuff-resistance and fast drying.

Water-based coatings are environmentally friendly in the sense that they avoid solvents and volatile organic compounds and they do not negatively affect later recycling.

The pouches were then finished by Bossar Packaging, which specialises in the design and production of horizontal form-fill-seal equipment for flexible packaging, such as spouted pouches, zippered pouches and sachets.

“With our innovative functional paper packaging solutions we are offering a sustainable material based on renewable sources that can be recycled in the paper stream,”​ explains René Köhler, head of new business development, packaging solutions, division innovation & sustainability at Sappi Europe.

“HP Indigo is collaborating with Sappi to validate high-grade substrates that can meet our customers’ requirement to reduce the impact of packaging on the environment, while leveraging HP Indigo’s ability to deliver on-demand, high-quality packaging with minimal waste”​, said Eli Mahal, head of labels and packaging product marketing and management at HP Indigo.

Packaging raw material costs (all data courtesy of Mintec)

Microcrystalline Wax

Microcrystalline wax is often used to encase cheese. Average cost rose from March 2020 to February 2021 to reach a high of $2,132/tonne in January.


Average cost of polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) dipped over the summer of 2020, but then began to climb to a high over the 12 month data set of $1,929/tonne in January.


Average PET cost over the 12 months to January 2021 levelled off from August onwards, ending at £745/tonne.

Aluminium Alloy

A steady climb in average aluminum alloy prices began in August 2020. Figures reached £1,407.82/tonne in January.


From the middle of 2020 onwards, the average cost of cartonboard began easing, ending the 12 month period on £586.21/tonne.


The average cost of kraftliner over the 12 month period remained flat from July to November 2020 at £475/tonne.

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