The packaging industry continues to be a hotbed of patent innovation. Activity is driven by sustainability, smart packaging, light weight, convenience, and ease of handling and growing importance of technologies such as 3D printing, artificial intelligence, and nano technology. In the last three years alone, there have been over 427,000 patents filed and granted in the packaging industry, according to GlobalData’s report on Innovation in packaging: thermal-insulated containers. Buy the report here.

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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 stabilizing 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.

30+ 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 77,000 patents, there are 30+ innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry.

Within the emerging innovation stage, cellulose fiber 3D printing, biodegradable packaging films, and multilayer barrier films are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. RFID packaging, anti-counterfeiting bottle caps, and clamshell-type packaging are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas are resealable medication vials and synthetic resin containers, which are now well established in the industry.

Innovation S-curve for the packaging industry

Thermal-insulated containers is a key innovation area in packaging

Thermal-insulated containers are packaging containers designed to store and transport items that require temperature regulation, such as automotive parts or food products. These containers are typically made of thermo-plastic material and are equipped with sealing systems to prevent the entry of humidity and liquids. They are designed with specific structural characteristics that reduce material usage, while maintaining mechanical resistance. Thermal-insulated containers also feature pressure relief valves, hinged flaps, stacking means, and tamper-evident mechanisms for secure and efficient storage.

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 390 companies, spanning technology vendors, established packaging companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of thermal-insulated containers.

Key players in thermal-insulated containers – a disruptive innovation in the packaging industry

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

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

Patent volumes related to thermal-insulated containers

Company Total patents (2021 - 2023) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Berry Global Group 130 Unlock Company Profile
Crown 92 Unlock Company Profile
Yeti 86 Unlock Company Profile
Silgan 69 Unlock Company Profile
Huhtamaki 60 Unlock Company Profile
Reynolds Group 57 Unlock Company Profile
Sonoco Products 57 Unlock Company Profile
Philip Morris International 55 Unlock Company Profile
The Clorox 52 Unlock Company Profile
Impress Group 51 Unlock Company Profile
Rehrig Pacific 50 Unlock Company Profile
Groupe 50 Unlock Company Profile
British American Tobacco 48 Unlock Company Profile
Jokey 47 Unlock Company Profile
The Kraft Heinz 46 Unlock Company Profile
Stone Canyon Industries 44 Unlock Company Profile
Dart Container 43 Unlock Company Profile
Novolex 42 Unlock Company Profile
Brasilata Embalagens Metalicas 41 Unlock Company Profile
ARD 41 Unlock Company Profile
Sabert 38 Unlock Company Profile
Nestle 38 Unlock Company Profile
Seda 38 Unlock Company Profile
Reckitt Benckiser Group 35 Unlock Company Profile
Mauser Group 33 Unlock Company Profile
Toyo Seikan Group 32 Unlock Company Profile
Anchor Packaging 31 Unlock Company Profile
Helen of Troy 31 Unlock Company Profile
Toppan 30 Unlock Company Profile
Tupperware Brands 27 Unlock Company Profile
The J.M. Smucker 27 Unlock Company Profile
U.S. Bancorp 27 Unlock Company Profile
Unilever 26 Unlock Company Profile
Randon SA Implementos e Participacoes 26 Unlock Company Profile
Inline Plastics 26 Unlock Company Profile
Arta Plast 26 Unlock Company Profile
Thermo Fisher Scientific 26 Unlock Company Profile
HAVI Group 25 Unlock Company Profile
Ropak 25 Unlock Company Profile
Novacart 24 Unlock Company Profile
Danone 24 Unlock Company Profile
S.C. Johnson & Son 24 Unlock Company Profile
Gpcp 23 Unlock Company Profile
Apollo Global Management 23 Unlock Company Profile
Groupe Guillin 22 Unlock Company Profile
CDF 22 Unlock Company Profile
WKI 22 Unlock Company Profile
Westrock 20 Unlock Company Profile
Procter & Gamble 20 Unlock Company Profile
Frugalpac 19 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Berry Global Group is one of the leading patent filers in thermal-insulated containers. Some other key patent filers in the space include Crown, Yeti, and Silgan. Knauf Industries Group acquired the Overath Group, a company known for its production of technical components made from expanded polypropylene (EPP) for the automotive sector, custom parts for various industries, and the manufacturing of thermal insulated boxes.

In terms of application diversity, Berry Global Group leads the pack, while Mauser Group and Yeti stood in the second and third positions, respectively. By means of geographic reach, Reckitt Benckiser Group  held the top position, followed by Seda and Yeti.

Thermal-insulated containers will find increased application across the food industry in the coming years. The rise of food delivery services created a higher demand for thermal-insulated containersas they help keep food at the desired temperature during transit, ensuring that customers receive their orders hot or cold, as desired.

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

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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.