Convenience and logistics driving smart packaging market

By Staff Reporter

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Smart packaging, Rfid

The global market for smart packaging for cosmetics products using
such technologies as radio frequency identification (RFID) will
grow to $618m (€489.5m) in 2013 from the current $9m, according to
a forecast report.

The penetration of smart packaging in the cosmetics and toiletries sector is currently very low, says NanoMarkets, a research firm.

It attributes the jump in growth to changing consumer patterns - especially greater health consciousness - especially higher standards for packaging relating to health and safety standards as well as greater supply chain efficiencies.

Although the smart packaging market will be dominated by the food and beverage sector, growth in the cosmetic and toiletries sector is expected to be equally significant, albeit from a smaller base.

This growth partially reflects the availability of reasonably priced smart packaging solutions that can address urgent safety and supply chain issues.

Overall, the global smart packaging market will grow to $4.8 billion in 2011 and reach $14.1 billion in 2013, according to NanoMarkets.

"For brand manufacturers, smart packaging opens the prospect of making a brand identity through the use of high-tech features,"​ the firm says in a newly released research report. "In these ways, demand for smart packaging can be seen as coming not only from the end-user segment but also from retailers, brand-manufacturers and government agencies."

Technology suppliers and all in the value chain will have to work hard, however, to keep costs low and increase consumer awareness of what is available from smart packaging, the firm stated. Cost will certainly be their greatest challenge.

As packaging costs in the cosmetics industry represent a much higher margin than in other industries, the importance of smart packaging is expected to play a significant role within the industry, the report says.

"We believe that sensors that indicate ultraviolet exposure, moisture conditions, and skin types could be a major opportunity in the cosmetics smart packaging market within the next five years,"​ the report states.

The authors point to SunCheck as an example of this kind of packaging development. The product indicates the exposure to harmful ultraviolet rays of the sun, changing colour to indicate when ultraviolet exposure could lead to sunburn.

Meanwhile attaining the optimum temperature at which a product should be applied is another challenge that has been taken up by Cosnessens. The company has developed a package that decreases the temperature of the product by 20 degrees within two minutes.

Another innovation is Procter and Gamble's SK-II Airtouch Foundation package that uses ionization to apply foundation particles onto the skin.

Likewise counterfeiting in the cosmetics and toiletries sector is on a sharp rise. The most common anti-counterfeiting measures are based on unique holographic authentication features or secondary image labels.

While these are effective for a short period until counterfeiters find a way to get round such barriers. As a result, new track and trace applications are being applied in packaging using RFID technology. Firms involved in this part of the market include 3M.

"Tamper proof packaging is also seen as a solution here and this is an area where there is a considerable amount of research going on, some involving colour changing dyes and electronic detection methods,"​ NanoMarkets reports. "However, high cost poses significant limitation for the wide-spread acceptance of such products."

Firms involved with novel tamper proof solutions include 3M, Letica, Crown Holdings, CSIRO and Cypak.

NanoMarkets says the arrival of a broad range of printable electronics technologies are making smarter packaging possible.

"Only printing can deliver sophisticated electronic capabilities to packaging at a price that makes next generation economically viable,"​ the company stated.

RFID, scaled down OLED displays and light, sensors, thin film batteries and photovoltaics are among the printable technologies that will be used in packaging to make products healthier, more secure, longer lasting, easier to use and more aesthetically appealing, the company forecasts.

However, critical to this success will be printable electronics making good on its promise to deliver an RFID tag in the one cent range. Significant improvements in the ability of printing machines to create RFIDs in high volume and print them on a wide variety of substrates will be key to achieving the price target.

In the past, the evolution of smart packaging has been hampered by the lack of small low-cost power sources. NanoMarkets claims that help is coming from three sources: piezoelectric materials, organic photovoltaics and thin film batteries. As these technologies mature and fall in price, the power will be there to drive lights, sensors, displays and active RFIDs in the latest generation of smart packaging technology.

NanoMarkets believes that in the future, smart materials will have an important impact on smart packaging technology.

Thermochromic inks will be used to show when an optimal or dangerous temperature has been reached. Shape memory alloys will control the opening and closing of packages depending on environmental conditions. Piezoelectric materials will provide power for lighting and audio features on packaging, and smart adhesives can be used in conjunction with smart labels to ensure freshness through color changes.

An International Chamber of Commerce estimate found that in 2003 counterfeit goods worldwide accounted for eight per cent of the total world trade.

NanoMarkets believes this is a tremendous opportunity for smart packaging, noting that a combination of RFID authentication at point of sale, security inks and other smart packaging approaches will make a major contribution to combating counterfeiting, especially in the food, beverage and pharmaceutical sectors.

Related topics: Packaging & Design, Packaging

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