The COVID-19 pandemic has affected just about every facet of our lives and has changed the way that many different industries operate. The packaging industry is certainly no exception, and it has faced many changes and challenges during the pandemic. Although we may not think much about packaging, this industry has been incredibly important throughout these difficult times, and packaging itself is essential to our daily lives. From delivering medical supplies safely to where they are needed to getting our groceries and takeout foods home and receiving online purchases right to our door, packaging plays an indispensable role in the global supply chain. Let’s take a closer look at just how this industry has been impacted during the COVID-19 pandemic.
One of the biggest ways that the pandemic has affected the packaging industry is through the rapid boom in online shopping. With the early stay-at-home orders and more people spending more time at home and avoiding being out in public, e-commerce saw a huge jump in activity in the past couple of years. And all of these online purchases need shipping boxes and other packaging. Many packaging companies have had to rise to the challenge of steep increases in demand, all while dealing with worker shortages and workplace safety concerns. Disruptions to the supply chain and resource shortages also made things difficult for packaging companies to meet the increased demand.
The trend towards more online shopping seems to be sticking around for now. Even as many areas have loosened restrictions and people have started to return to in-person shopping and other events, many others plan to continue to use online shopping as much as possible in the future. Older adults and other people who may be at higher risk of illness have adopted online shopping habits to minimize trips out of the home. Others simply enjoy the convenience of having purchases shipped directly to their homes. Grocery and meal delivery services have also increased, and with this comes the need for sturdy boxes and other packaging materials too.
The pandemic hit the food service industry hard, as it dealt with shutdowns and serious decreases in business. The restrictions of the pandemic forced many restaurants and other food service outlets to pivot towards more delivery or carry-out options instead of dining in. These options continue to be popular even while people start to return to more in-person experiences. The increase in carry-out foods has, of course, increased the demand for takeout containers and other food packaging options that can safely deliver hot and fresh foods from restaurant to home.
At the grocery stores, consumers are showing a preference for wrapped items and packaged convenience foods they can stockpile in case of another lockdown. Grocery stores are seeing an increase in plastic wrap and other packaging as items like bagged produce are preferable to individual fruits and vegetables that other customers may have touched.
Disposable packaging is a top concern for those interested in sustainability, and before the pandemic, many people looked for reusable items such as shopping bags and food takeout containers. COVID-19 concerns turned these issues upside down, as many consumers feared transmission of the virus on surfaces such as these reusable packaging items. Some cities that had already banned plastic bags rescinded such restrictions during the pandemic, and some even temporarily banned the use of reusable bags. Other single-use plastic products have increased in usage due to concerns related to hygiene and virus transmission.
For now, single-use plastics dominate many industries, including healthcare and food service, as it’s clear that health and safety are the top priority right now while we make our way out of the pandemic. However, there is still considerable debate about just how necessary it is to use single-use plastic to avoid the virus, and there is still a strong movement for more sustainable packaging. Packaging companies and retailers can address these challenges and stay ahead of the trend by offering new alternatives that better address both concerns.
Even before the pandemic, many retailers were moving towards more customized packaging options that make it easier and safer to ship their products. Now that need has been amplified even more. When a customer orders products to be shipped, a retailer must package them for shipping, often using standardized boxes with lots of extra packaging material and their employees’ time and effort. Recently, a shift towards products that can ship in their own original packaging is changing all of this. These products are easier on the supply chain, can ship quickly and use far less packaging than the previous methods. Customized packaging for each item also protects the products better and reduces damage during shipping.
As we navigate our way out of the pandemic, it’s a good idea to look ahead towards the future. The impact of COVID-19 on the packaging industry has been far-reaching and has necessitated significant changes. Some of these changes will, of course, be temporary, but certain shifts in consumer demand and shopping habits are likely to remain for quite a while yet. This is an ideal time for innovations that will become the future for the packaging industry. We will likely continue to see increased use of technology and increased demand for certain types of packaging in many different sectors. We may see more packaging solutions that address health and safety while also being more sustainable at the same time.
We think it’s easy to see how COVID-19 impacts packaging demands and trends, and here at Bolt Boxes, we are ready to help you find the ideal packaging solutions for your products. Our custom-made boxes are designed to fit your needs, as well as wow your customers with our colorful printed graphics and amazing unboxing experience. Your shipping boxes can be a considerable part of your brand identity and can proudly show your customers your values, like health and safety, environmentalism and more. Start building your box online today with our easy-to-use form, or reach out to us for help. Our knowledgeable staff can help you get the right boxes for your products.