In recent years, intelligent packaging in China has witnessed impressive growth, thanks to advancements in material science, modern control technology, computer technology, and artificial intelligence.

From 2015 to 2019, the market size of China’s intelligent packaging industry, measured by production value, surged from 125.52 billion yuan to 172.45 billion yuan, boasting a staggering compound annual growth rate of 8.3%.

Here, we delve into the factors driving this rapid expansion and what it means for the global packaging landscape.

The transformation of packaging titans

Represented by industry giants like Meiying Sen, Jinjia Holdings, Guilian Holdings, Yutong Technology, Hexing Packaging, and Aoruijin, major packaging companies in China are undergoing a significant transformation towards intelligent packaging.

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This shift marks a pivotal moment in the industry’s trajectory. Several key factors have propelled this change:

(1) A Shift in Industry Titans: Companies traditionally at the helm of the packaging industry are increasingly venturing into the realm of intelligent packaging, catalysing industry growth.

(2) Addressing Traditional Packaging Challenges: Intelligent packaging is gaining traction as a solution to long-standing issues in traditional packaging, such as product quality and resource wastage. It is becoming a preferred choice for major enterprises.

(3) RFID Technology’s Rapid Advancement: The rapid development of Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) technology, a cornerstone of intelligent packaging, has played a pivotal role in propelling the industry forward.

Accelerated technological innovation

Starting in 2016, the pace of technological innovation in China’s intelligent packaging industry accelerated significantly, laying a solid foundation for its development.

Between 2010 and 2018, the number of patents in this sector surged from a mere 6 to a staggering 151.

A crucial turning point was the release of the “China Packaging Industry Development Plan (2016-2020)” by the China Packaging Federation in 2016, which incorporated “intelligent packaging” into the industry’s overarching goals alongside “green packaging” and “safe packaging.”

This shift ignited explosive growth in China’s intelligent packaging industry, with patent numbers surging to 136 in 2016 alone, a year-on-year increase of 4.4 times.

In 2017 and 2018, patent applications for intelligent packaging continued to remain high, consistently exceeding 150.

Industry giants embrace change

Starting in 2015, most packaging and printing companies experienced a noticeable slowdown in production and sales due to weakened downstream demand.

Leading packaging industry players like Meiying Sen, Jinjia Holdings, Guilian Holdings, Yutong Technology, Hexing Packaging, and Aoruijin responded by shifting their focus toward intelligent packaging.

Some of them established subsidiaries dedicated to intelligent packaging services, while others invested hundreds of millions in building intelligent packaging industrial bases or research and development facilities.

The participation of these industry giants not only boosted the visibility of intelligent packaging but also injected substantial capital and technological expertise into the sector, propelling its rapid development.

RFID industry’s explosive growth

RFID technology stands at the core of intelligent packaging, establishing comprehensive data platforms for products throughout their lifecycles and aiding in anti-counterfeiting and traceability efforts.

RFID-integrated intelligent packaging has found extensive applications in industries such as clothing, pharmaceuticals, high-end food, and beverages.

Companies like Decathlon and Uniqlo have harnessed RFID tags to combat counterfeiting effectively and enhance inventory management.

From 2015 to 2019, the market size of China’s RFID industry surged from 48.85 billion yuan to 110.06 billion yuan, boasting an impressive compound annual growth rate of 22.5%.

The rapid expansion of the RFID industry in China is poised to continue driving growth in the intelligent packaging sector.

In the end, China’s intelligent packaging industry is experiencing an unprecedented surge in growth, driven by the convergence of technology, market demand, and the participation of industry giants.

The adoption of RFID technology and a heightened focus on innovation are shaping the industry’s future.

As this sector continues to evolve, it holds the potential to revolutionise packaging worldwide, offering enhanced product quality, reduced waste, and improved traceability—a promising outlook for the global packaging industry.