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Key Trends, That Are Changing The Future Of Corrugated Packaging Industry The industry is expanding around 3.7 per cent per annum to reach the estimation of $300 billion in 2023

By Gaurav Jalan.

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The corrugated packaging industry is growing at a rapid pace, mainly assisted by the arrival of the e-commerce and developments in digital printing technologies.

The worldwide corrugated packaging market is expanding faster than expected, startling some predictions that tell about a slowdown in corrugated usage. A downturn in demand in China and the prohibition of contaminated recycled paper stocks has completely materialized. The corrugated packaging industry lends vital services to both individuals and businesses across the world. There are already several reports and studies have been undertaken to provide insights and predictions on the future of this important product in this industry.

The paper packaging industry, particularly the corrugated boxes, cater to the needs of many sectors in the economy like the food and beverages, Fast-moving Consumer Goods (FMCG), Pharmaceuticals, Durable Goods, Tobacco, and a lot more. Key trends that are changing the future of the corrugated packaging industry.

Here are some of the observations made.


E-commerce sales are continuously looking to go high, with predictions of almost 20 per cent annual growth in e-commerce trade in Europe solely. Global online business is estimated to be over $5.5 trillion in the year 2023. This will have a huge impact on packaging demand, particularly in the corrugated industry as it represents about 80 per cent of demand in the e-commerce sector.

The ever-expanding complex logistics chain for straight to customer delivery e-commerce packages are supposed to be handled up to 20 times and even more during normal distribution. That means there is a new demand for cost-effective secondary corrugated board packaging.

The expectation from company owners are now being felt by the evolving market as various brands now need the secondary pack to bear their image into the home, not only the retail outlet. This enhances the need for converters to make top-quality graphic designs on the shippers themselves.


One thing that came out of e-commerce has been the appearance of fit-to-product (FTP) or box-on-demand methods, driven in general by the demands of dedicated e-commerce sellers, let's say Amazon. This method makes the manufacturing of customized secondary packaging based on the original size of the product being packed, including inconsistent shapes. For the end-user, this eradicates the need for large inventories of standard-sized boxes that mostly require copious quantities of filler material.

As FTP platforms become more and more popular, there will be heightened demand for boards sold as fanfold, as well as finishing material, in the form of the printers, that can work with them. Significant moves are being taken to pounce on this growth market.


Corrugated board is getting increasing popularity in the packaging industry as sustainability becomes a more critical issue across the value system. It is quite easy to recycle and the pulp and paper industry is very much familiar at change these into new generations of containerboard. These capabilities mean there has been a boost in the popularity of corrugated protective formats over polymer-based options, like the expanded polystyrene (EPS) foams.

Albeit light-weighting of the board has long been affecting the corrugated industry, light-weighting, and proper-sizing is playing a critically an important role in this industry, not only in response to buyer's demands for efficient packaging, but also in response to the logistics system's adoption of dimensional weight (DIM) pricing. In some scenarios, substituting to a heavier board grade can have a better impact overall as it allows for the eradication of additional protective elements,

The motive to minimize the volume of air being shipped within every delivery, channel means that in certain cases there have been huge cost increases. As in, a pack of toilet rolls costs nearly 37 per cent more to ship using charges based on the size, rather than only weight.

Light weighting has been quite successful in Western Europe. The importance of light-weighting will continue to be felt even in the coming years as it is cost saving.

Digital Printing Advancements

As the digital print market increases, the corrugated sector, while still in the early phases, has developed a growing hunger for adoption of the process and systems are now being conducted to address the demands of the high-volume liner and post-print industry.

The adaptability of run-lengths, savings in costs, the capability to personalize relating to brands, geographical locations, stores or individuals, and the level of quality now possible through the current technologies all teamed up to create a perfect wave of growth opportunities for converters and printers.

Product owners are identifying the opportunities to grow falling brand loyalty through greater association with their customer base provided by these technological ways, and industry pioneers see packaging as an integral component in the development of a memorable shopping experience that buyers want to share on social media, which can push marketing, encourage repeat business and acquire new customers.

Retail Changes

Retail-ready packaging has now firmly formed itself as a chief cost saver for the retailers, particularly in some parts of Europe. This will slowly affect the other parts of the world too. This ongoing profit influence is giving an impetus to use more retail-ready composition as a labor-saving solution, as it is speculated that these secondary packaging compositions can decrease shelf restocking and handling expenses by nearly 50 per cent. It is also notably popular with sales into convenience stores and discount retailers. For brands, it provides the added bonus of giving them bigger control over the presentation of their products within the retail space.

The increase in e-commerce trade into the grocery industry is likely to have a little impact on retail-ready packaging use as online sales does not need these pack types.

Corrugated cases will still be used to deliver goods to an e-sales retailers warehouse or fulfillment center but they do not need to be retail-ready compositions. The arrival of subscription box and meal kit services that offer directly to consumer delivery of specialist food using a weekly and monthly subscription are giving some new opportunity for corrugated board suppliers with delivery friendly formats having goods within a die-cut interior.


The present businesses have learned that plastic is damaging not only the environment but also their brands. As customers become more conscious of environmental changes, they began to expect businesses to adapt as well.

In a way, corrugated boxes are certainly one of the best solutions for packaging several things. Industry experts also say corrugated boxes are there to stay and will eventually continue to play a critical role both for business and the environment. Due to the fact that they can be reused and recycled.

In normal or simple words now, the businesses can thrive not just depending on their profits and earnings but also by contributing towards the cleaner environment. Corrugated boxes are one such solution which assists the environment to thrive and live.

If someone is an e-commerce entrepreneur, a marketer in a multi-national company or a small business owner the customers will judge the business right from the moment they get to see the packaging of the brand. In short, the above trends will keep the market of corrugated boxes alive and kicking.

Gaurav Jalan.

Founder & Director, Packman Packaging Pvt Ltd.

Gaurav Jalan is the Founder and Director of Packman Packaging, one of the largest Indian packaging company that has been serving some of the world’s eminent technology, pharmaceutical, retail, fast-moving consumer goods, food, courier, publication, Jewellery, fashion, e-commerce organizations for the past 30 years.

A brilliant academic, a good graphic designer and a graduate from India’s top management institute IMT Ghaziabad, Mr. Jalan is a visionary businessman and an eminent spokesperson on matters related to the Indian Packaging industry.  He has witnessed and as well as participated in the growth process of India’s packaging industry’s that was few billion dollar the market in 2010, grew into USD 31 billion in 2015 and is expected to turn$72 billion by 2020.


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