From lightweight bottle designs to the growing adoption of single-use beverage sachets, brands are minimizing materials for packaging.

According to a recent report on the global beverage packaging market by Technavio, demand for lightweight packaging ranks among the top three market trends. It allows r brands to reduce the environmental impact of packaging and save on costs. It encourages recyclability and, furthermore, supports brand owners’ efforts to provide greater convenience. Consumers want a packaging option that is light and compact, and they value convenience and portability.

However, the demand for lightweight packaging comes with both benefits and challenges. Every product is different, and brand owners must decide the best approach to take for each product. They must determine what precautions to consider to ensure structural integrity and a positive consumer experience.

It is critical that brands not compromise the structural integrity of packaging as they transition to lighter materials. The product needs to be appealing and sustainable and — most important — must uphold product quality. This is vital, because the way the packaging looks once it reaches the store shelf directly impacts how consumers perceive the product and overall brand.

Manufacturers also must consider whether pallets or cartons will provide better product protection during shipping. They need to ensure that any shift in the process is sustainable and cost-effective.

When product packaging shifts to a new format or material, it often requires changes to the production line. For example, if a brand switches from a glass container to PET, modifications to the speed and handling of the line are necessary to compensate for the changes in weight and rigidity.

Whether they entail an investment in new equipment or simple adjustments to existing equipment, implementing these modifications can prove to be cost-effective and beneficial for brands long-term. The investment in this new equipment will also pay off as other parts of the supply chain become more efficient and sustainable.

It is important that brand owners evaluate the needs and goals of their business and identify the best fit for their brand. Some beverage brands may find a solution in PET bottles. Based on the Global Packaging Trends 2017 Report by PMMI, The Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies, PET packaging is on the rise.

The flexibility that PET provides in form and size for beverages makes it a desirable package for manufacturers. Its recyclability also meets consumer demand for sustainability. The versatility, innovation and design that PET offers makes it a differentiator from other types of packaging materials. PET is already seeing growth in six regions of the world, and this growth is expected to continue.

Over the years, many beverage brands have transitioned from glass bottles to PET for its recyclability and lightweight characteristics. Other brands are turning to carton-based packaging formats to support sustainability efforts and differentiate themselves from competitors.

In addition to the sustainability attribute, consumers are devoted to trends. A distinct design, format or material for a specific beverage will often influence their purchasing decisions.

Changing the format and materials for beverages can be important, and arguably many beverage products on the market could benefit from packaging updates. Depending on the type of packaging used, the beverage is protected by barriers to sunlight and oxygen. This protective layer helps preserve both freshness and flavor longevity.

Consumers are willing to pay a little bit more if they know that they are getting added value. Some brands are now expanding their beverage packaging to include pouches in addition to a regular bottle format. This makes the product slimmer, lightweight and convenient for on-the-go use.

Even though this new format is sustainable, it’s not the main reason they are on the rise. Beverage pouches give companies flexibility to get creative with their packaging, and that adds value to their brands. They are able to use enhanced graphics on their products, making them stand out on a shelf from other brands.

Packaging professionals seeking the latest beverage packaging innovations can explore new technologies at PACK EXPO East 2018. Produced by PMMI, the show is conveniently located in Philadelphia, within 200 miles of a third of the nation’s consumer packaged goods companies. The event is expected to draw 6,000 attendees and 400 suppliers of advanced packaging equipment, automation, robotics and controls, materials, containers, printing and labeling technologies. To register, visit