A Look at the US Packaging Market during COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has turned the packaging industry on its ear. As with many industries affected during this crisis, previous conventions have been shattered and industries re-invented.

In the case of packaging in the US, the heated debate about surrounding the war on plastics has been reduced to a murmur as fears of using re-usable containers due to the pandemic make plastic packaging a more attractive option. Plastic bag bans in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Oregon, have been delayed or lifted. Access to soda fountains, fresh coffee stations, and water refill stations have all been shuttered, and the argument for re-usable beverage containers quieted.

To complicate matters is the record fall in oil demand and price plunging as the price of virgin plastic is closely associated with the price of oil, making it a more affordable option these days than recycled materials. This greatly complicates the conversation surrounding the Circular Economy, as food and beverage manufacturers work to keep up with demand and monitor costs. Large corporations are being scrutinized under a new microscope for their previous commitments to reduce post-consumer waste.

What we are seeing here in the US is the continuing rise in popularity of cans – not just for beer and energy drinks, but also wine and even water. And the rise of alternative adult beverages such as hard seltzers, pre-mixed cocktails, hard coffees, etc. has only enhanced the demand for this type of packaging.

Krones subsidiary Kosme recently released two new fillers for smaller producers that have been gaining increased attention. Without giving too much away it can be said that they are lower speed, smaller options compared to our popular Craftmate and Modufill fillers. We will tell you more about these new Kosme solutions soon – stay tuned!

With the popularity of cans comes interest in alternatives for secondary packaging, such as the Krones LitePac Top, which offers a sustainable alternative to film-wrapped packs and plastic six-pack rings for beverages, replacing plastic with cardboard clips.

What will the future hold for the US packaging market in 2020? It is difficult to tell. But we here at Krones are operating at full speed, ready to assist and support all our customers’ packaging technology needs. We have full 24/7 support when you need it, and remote VPN support options as well. We thank our customers for keeping the vital food and beverage supply chain going strong during these challenging times. It is our pleasure to serve you.