Despite a strong desire for innovation in packaging, a new study by Industrial Physics, a leader in packaging testing, reveals a significant gap between intention and action.

While 96% of food and beverage packaging professionals surveyed last year expressed the importance of new developments, only 24% of their companies currently embrace an innovative approach.

This disconnect highlights internal roadblocks hindering progress.

The survey found that around half (49%) of respondents felt too many teams were involved in the innovation process, leading to delays.

Additionally, 22% admitted their companies rarely follow through on innovative ideas.

The use of organic materials presents another challenge, with 35% of those using organics reporting a lack of expertise to drive growth and innovation.

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“Overall the mechanisms, the capacity and the direction aren’t quite there yet,” explained Steve Davis, global director of Product Management at Industrial Physics. 

“Packaging companies understand the significant resource and investment required for the majority of innovation opportunities, therefore the decision to go ahead is not a quick or an easy one.”

The report also explores the impact of recent economic pressures.

Nearly half (47%) of respondents stated their companies had undergone layoffs in the past five years, with US-based companies experiencing the highest rate (58%).

Interestingly, the proportion of layoffs varied by material type, with paper packaging companies seeing the most (62%).

“Many companies within the packaging sector have been operating for decades and currently do not have the capacity to pursue innovative ideas whilst maintaining their regular manufacturing output which already satisfies a consistent demand,” added Davis.

“We’re noticing that companies who want to pursue innovation are running into internal barriers. In a period where budgets are extremely tight and layoffs are being made, unless a company can guarantee the ROI [return on investment], there simply isn’t enough justification to assign resource to innovation.”

Looking ahead, 41% of respondents indicated their companies plan to embrace innovation in the next three years.

However, Davis emphasised the need for careful planning.

Our report highlights that pursuing opportunities in innovation is not as straightforward as it seems,” concluded Davis.

“With continued turbulence and both internal and external factors contributing to uncertainty, organisations need more support than ever to remain resilient and assess opportunities for innovation in packaging without compromising on the quality or safety of their products.”