2024 Food and Drink Packaging Trends: Balancing Sustainability, Costs, and Efficiency

Key 2024 Trends for the Food and Drinks Packaging Industry

As 2024 starts, the food and drinks packaging industry is undergoing significant changes driven by various factors such as increasing consumer demand for sustainable packaging, changing material costs, and the growing influence of ecommerce. Drawing on our team's combined packaging expertise, we explore some of the key trends that are shaping the future of food and drink packaging in 2024 and beyond.


1. Sustainability

Sustainable packaging continues to be a key trend for 2024 packagingSustainability remains a top priority for food and drinks packaging. In 2024, we expect to see more companies adopting sustainable practices, such as using recyclable and food-grade recycled materials, reducing packaging waste, and implementing initiatives to minimise their carbon footprint. Consumers are increasingly seeking out brands that prioritise sustainability, driving the need for innovative packaging solutions that are both eco-friendly and functional. (You can read our packaging sustainability guide here)


2. Balancing Sustainability with Costs

Sustainability vs costs solutions: 2024 packaging trendsBalancing sustainability with costs remains a significant challenge for the food and drinks packaging industry. While sustainable packaging may incur higher upfront expenses, it often results in long-term cost savings through reduced waste and increased consumer loyalty. For example, many of our suppliers have adopted more sustainable ways of manufacturing their packaging, including optimising solar energy, using recycled materials and streamlining their production processes. Companies must carefully evaluate their packaging strategies to strike the right balance between sustainability and financial viability. (You can read details of Aegg’s sustainability drive here)


3. Cost Reduction Strategies

Cost reduction strategies are a key packaging trend for 2024To address rising production costs, manufacturers are exploring cost reduction strategies. These may include lightweighting or “right weighting” packaging (read our article written by Aegg’s Product Development Manager on glass lightweighting here), streamlining production processes, optimizing supply chains, and adopting new technologies to increase efficiency and reduce waste. By implementing these strategies, companies can minimise costs without compromising quality or sustainability.


4. Ecommerce Trends

4-2The rapid growth of ecommerce has had a profound impact on the packaging industry. In 2024, we anticipate continued demand for packaging solutions specifically tailored for online purchases. This includes optimising packaging size to minimise waste, right weighting products to minimise material/ manufacturing/ distribution costs, and enhancing customer experience through customised packaging designs (read our plastic customisation and glass customisation articles here).


5. Plastic Packaging Tax (PPT) 2024 Rate Changes

2024 Plastic Packaging Tax Rate Changes will affect 2024 packaging trendsIn 2024, there will be changes in the Plastic Packaging Tax (PPT) rates. (amended from £210.82 per tonne to £217.85 per tonne with effect from 1 April 2024) The PPT is an initiative aimed at reducing plastic waste by taxing plastic packaging that does not meet minimum threshold requirements for recycled content. Manufacturers will need to closely monitor and adapt to these rate changes to ensure compliance and manage costs.


6. Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) - Deferred for 1 year

EPR changes will affect 2024 packaging trendsExtended Producer Responsibility (EPR) requires manufacturers to take responsibility for the entire lifecycle of their packaging. EPR for packaging fees have been deferred for 1 year. Fees were starting on October 2024. They will now start in October 2025. However, producers still must report packaging data for 2023, including PRNs (packaging waste recycling notes).


7. Supply Chain Management

Efficient supply chain management is a key trend for 2024 packagingEfficient supply chain management is crucial for the food and drinks packaging industry. In 2024, we expect to see increased focus on technology-driven solutions, such as track-and-trace systems, real-time inventory monitoring, and blockchain applications. These advancements can enhance transparency, reduce waste, and optimise supply chain operations. We also think that global supply chains will remain uncertain due to global issues. For example, as at the end of 2023, there were major issues with shipping via the Red Sea. Aegg’s supply chain management is robust as we use suppliers from varying geographies as well as holding significant finished goods in our warehouse in the UK.


8. Material Costs

8-1Material shortages, energy prices, freight costs and Brexit all drove up the costs in 2023 (you can read our 2023 trends article here). Input cost stability and increased availability of materials such as recycled plastic (including rPET) and recyclable glass will help to partly reverse the upward spiral on costs during 2024… barring any unforeseen conflicts, pandemics etc.


9. Returnable Packaging Solutions

Returnable packaging is a growing packaging trendReturnable packaging solutions have gained traction due to increased awareness of the environmental impact of single-use packaging. These solutions involve reusable packaging materials and systems that can be collected, sanitised, and reused in the supply chain. By implementing returnable packaging solutions, companies can reduce waste, lower costs, and improve sustainability.


2024 Packaging Trends Summary

As the food and drinks packaging industry evolves in 2024, companies must navigate the challenges and opportunities presented by sustainability, rising costs, and changing regulations, and a possible general election. By embracing innovative packaging solutions, implementing cost reduction strategies, and adopting sustainable practices, businesses can stay ahead of the curve and drive positive change in the packaging landscape.

Thank you for reading our 2024 packaging trends. If you have any comments or would like to enquire about our food and drink packaging, please get in touch