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Just 24% of packaging professionals in the food and beverage industry would agree that their company has an innovative approach to packaging, according to a new report from Industrial Physics. Though 41% of the respondents surveyed for the report said their company plans to innovate over the next three years, 24% had no plans for such an approach, and 10% have had to reduce their level of innovation. 

There isn’t a lack of desire to innovate, however — last year, 96% of respondents said it was important to pursue new developments in packaging. But this year, packaging professionals noted several challenges that could be slowing innovation: 

  • Nearly half (47%) of respondents reported that their company has had to lay off employees over the past five years, with US-based respondents (58%) and companies working with paper (62%) most likely to experience layoffs.
  • Close to half (49%) expressed that there are too many teams involved in the innovation process, hindering progress.
  • Some packaging professionals (22%) said their company doesn’t usually follow up on their innovative ideas. 
  • More than one in three (35%) respondents working with organic material felt they lacked expertise to foster growth and innovation. 

Common routes to innovation varied by material. Companies using paper packaging (62%) were much more likely than those using cardboard (37%) to turn to external partners for support. And businesses working with organic materials (62%) were more likely to rely on cross-collaboration between teams than packaging companies in general (52%).

Respondents were also asked about their company’s technology investments, and 60% of experienced employees (those with more than five years in their role) didn’t feel their company was investing enough. A little more than half (52%) of food packaging respondents said their company had implemented new technologies, while fewer beverage respondents (44%) said the same. Packaging professionals marked data acquisition, data analytics, and 3D printing as the most promising technologies in packaging.

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