What’s happening in packaging

Beverage Packaging Goes Bigger, Faster, and Greener in 2022

beverage packaging

We’re always keeping our ear to the ground on big CPG packaging developments, and the beverage sector in particular is center stage right now. The insane multiple-year lead times for aluminum cans (can you even believe cans are sold out for 24-36 months?) are just the siren going off in the distance. 

Three big, hairy trends are dominating beverage industry news as we peel away the layers of 2022:

  1. Sustainable packaging is priority #1 (and no, plastics aren’t going anywhere)
  2. Multi-serve containers are having a real moment with consumers
  3. Shipping delays, labor shortages, and extended lead times are here to stay (Or are they? Stay tuned.)

Let’s break these down and look at the takeaways.

Where Coca-Cola Goes, Beverages Will Follow

We all know sustainable products have been making inroads in beverages for years. However, something is different now. Beverage companies are starting to realize the absolute grip that eco-friendly, sustainable talking points have over consumers in the current economic and political climate. Even during the pandemic, shoppers continue to prioritize environmentally-conscious products and say they’re willing to pay more for eco-friendly and sustainable packaging options.

Coca-Cola has taken notice. “We continue to put consumers at the center of all we do,” says Elaine Bowers Coventry, Chief Customer & Commercial Officer of Coca-Cola. “One way to do that is by offering sustainable packaging types. Accelerating the use of reusable packages provides added value for consumers and customers while supporting our World Without Waste goal to collect a bottle or can for every one we sell by 2030.”

On February 10, 2022, the Coca-Cola Company announced their industry-leading goal to substantially ramp up their use of reusable packaging. And I mean substantially. As in, a huge 25% slice of all the beverages Coke sells worldwide will come in refillable/returnable glass or plastic by 2030.

That’s massive. You can bet your bottom dollar that other beverage companies are taking notice and looking for their own splashy, big-impact sustainable packaging options. This could mean compostable or biodegradable options, alternative business models built around refillable bottles (like Coke), or ditching rigid containers altogether to reap the massive environmental benefits of sustainable flexible packaging — like the spouted beverage pouch.

Whoa, 59 Ounces? You Don’t Say?

One of the least predicted (but, in hindsight, most logical) effects of the pandemic has been a surge in demand for huge, multi-serving containers. Everything from coffee to tea to cold-pressed juice is seeing a rise in consumer desire for oversized bottles and jugs.

“Consumers are looking for multi-serve products because they are cost-effective, reduce trips to the grocery store and reduce waste,” says marketing professional Holly McHugh to Food Business News. Bulk packaging like the 59-oz plastic bottles now offered by San Diego-based Suja Juice are flying off the shelves.

More of the workforce is working from home (or still out of work) than pre-pandemic times, so this trend is likely to continue. Forward-thinking brands will take a strategic look at larger packaging options in 2022 that will appeal to folks who consume their drinks in the kitchen rather than on-the-go.

Shipping Delays Seem Like An Ever Given (They’re Not)

Okay, so the boat finally got out of the canal. No matter. The shipping container pile-up continues and isn’t going to abate any time soon. Here’s what the VP of Crown has to say about it:

“The new normal in the industry is the extended lead times to get your products delivered to the consumer due to supply chain issues related to COVID. In addition to labor shortages, there were overseas containers that were delayed in onshoring which caused a delay in receiving your items in a normal timeframe. There’s been a high level of volume in the business-to-consumer space.”

— Rich Benkelman Jr., Vice President, Crown Packaging Corp

Raw material availability and price fluctuations will also continue to exacerbate supply chain disruptions. Brands are going to be looking for alternative channels and ways around the heavyweights at the front of the line (eyes on you, Coca-Cola, Budweiser, and Coors). Traditional logistics has every incentive to put their biggest customers first — but that doesn’t mean you’ve got to settle for lead times that count months…or years.

A strategic supply chain partner like ABC Packaging Direct — The Oversea Network has a few tricks up our sleeve that your local suppliers just don’t know about. We’ve got the experience and the know-how to get you access to top global suppliers and accelerate those lead times so your stuff gets there when you need it. Call us up. We’d love to tell you how we do it.

Domestic Suppliers Are Sunk


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