The packaging industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by rising environmental awareness, urbanisation, safety & trust, healthy living and the growing importance of technologies, such as connected packaging, active packaging and near-field communication. In the last three years alone, there have been over 310,000 patents filed and granted in the packaging industry, according to GlobalData’s report on Environment Sustainability in Packaging: MFC coated packaging paper.

However, not all innovations are equal and nor do they follow a constant upward trend. Instead, their evolution takes the form of an S-shaped curve that reflects their typical lifecycle from early emergence to accelerating adoption, before finally stabilising and reaching maturity.

Identifying where a particular innovation is on this journey, especially those that are in the emerging and accelerating stages, is essential for understanding their current level of adoption and the likely future trajectory and impact they will have.

80+ innovations will shape the packaging industry

According to GlobalData’s Technology Foresights, which plots the S-curve for the packaging industry using innovation intensity models built on over 87,000 patents, there are 80+ innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry.

Within the emerging innovation stage, mechanical waste processing, flexible receptacle type refuse containers, and blow moulding with energy recovery are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. Sustainable packaging paper coating, MFC coated packaging paper, and hydroponic culturing are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas are starch biopolymer packaging and dismountable greenhouse coverings, which are now well established in the industry. 

Innovation S-curve for environmental sustainability in the packaging industry

MFC coated packaging paper is a key innovation area in environmental sustainability

Microfibrillated cellulose (MFC) acts as a natural performance enhancer, used for creating lighter and stronger packaging. It is used primarily for the food industry.

GlobalData’s analysis also uncovers the companies at the forefront of each innovation area and assesses the potential reach and impact of their patenting activity across different applications and geographies. According to GlobalData, there are 30+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established packaging companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of MFC coated packaging paper.

Key players in MFC coated packaging paper – a disruptive innovation in the packaging industry

‘Application diversity’ measures the number of different applications identified for each relevant patent and broadly splits companies into either ‘niche’ or ‘diversified’ innovators.

‘Geographic reach’ refers to the number of different countries each relevant patent is registered in and reflects the breadth of geographic application intended, ranging from ‘global’ to ‘local’.

Patent volumes related to Microfibrillated cellulose (MFC)-coated packaging paper

Company Total patents (2010 - 2021) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Stora Enso 164 Unlock company profile
FiberLean Technologies 82 Unlock company profile
BillerudKorsnas 64 Unlock company profile
Nippon Paper Industries 36 Unlock company profile
Kimberly-Clark 27 Unlock company profile
Coca-Cola Enterprises Great Britain 24 Unlock company profile
Kemira 22 Unlock company profile
Tokushu Tokai Paper 19 Unlock company profile
BASF 19 Unlock company profile
Klabin 18 Unlock company profile
Innventia 18 Unlock company profile
Eastman Chemical 15 Unlock company profile
Mayr-Melnhof Karton 15 Unlock company profile
Mativ Holdings 14 Unlock company profile
FP Innovations 14 Unlock company profile
Smurfit Kappa Group 14 Unlock company profile
Oji Holdings 14 Unlock company profile
Sodra Skogsagarna ekonomisk forening 14 Unlock company profile
Ecoinno (H.K.) 13 Unlock company profile
Parjointco 13 Unlock company profile
Cargill 12 Unlock company profile
Enzymatic Deinking Technologies 11 Unlock company profile
Novo Nordisk Foundation 11 Unlock company profile
Tetra Laval International 10 Unlock company profile
Westrock 9 Unlock company profile
Koch Industries 9 Unlock company profile
AGC 9 Unlock company profile
Anheuser-Busch InBev 8 Unlock company profile
Solenis Technologies 8 Unlock company profile
Metsaliitto Cooperative 7 Unlock company profile
Lee & Man Paper Manufacturing 7 Unlock company profile
Visy Industries Holdings 6 Unlock company profile
OneWorld Packaging 6 Unlock company profile
Sonoco Products 6 Unlock company profile
Södra Skogsägarna ekonomisk förening 6 Unlock company profile
KTH Holding 6 Unlock company profile
delfortgroup 5 Unlock company profile
Yueyang Forest and Paper 5 Unlock company profile
UPM-Kymmene 5 Unlock company profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Stora Enso is one of the leading patent filers in MFC coated packaging paper. It recently acquired a Dutch company, De Jong Packaging Group, to accelerate growth in renewable corrugated packaging. Some other key patent filers in the MFC coated packaging paper include FiberLean Technologies, BillerudKorsnas, Nippon Paper Industries and Kimberly-Clark.

In terms of application diversity, OneWorld Packaging leads the pack. Mayr-Melnhof Karton and UPM-Kymmene stood in the second and third positions, respectively. By means of geographic reach, Cargill held the top position, followed by Solenis Technologies and Mayr-Melnhof Karton.

MFC coated paper will be revolutionary for the food industry in coming years as it will help store the food for a longer time.

To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the packaging industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Packaging.


GlobalData, the leading provider of industry intelligence, provided the underlying data, research, and analysis used to produce this article.

GlobalData’s Patent Analytics tracks patent filings and grants from official offices around the world. Textual analysis and official patent classifications are used to group patents into key thematic areas and link them to specific companies across the world’s largest industries.