In the sixth Retail Times and Euromonitor International Retail Spotlight, Karine Dussimon, senior research analyst at Euromonitor International, explores the impact of an ageing population and single person households on the latest packaging trends
Two major demographic trends shaping the global consumer landscape are population ageing and the shrinking in household sizes. These demographic features/movements very much continue to define how people have been consuming packaged foods over 2011/2012; but also the role of packaging in these food consumption habits.
Opening to the ageing population
In the UK, the Age UK organisation released a compliance scheme in early 2012 aiming to encourage national brand owners to better adapt their products and packaging solutions to the expanding aged population.
Here’s yet a new sign of the growing significance of addressing demographics for food brand owners and packagers alike. And it is something we are seeing in many countries; particularly so in emerging markets. Between 2006 and 2011, the median age of the population has increased in all regions of the world; with the highest CAGRs posted by Latin America (1.3%) and Asia Pacific (1.1%).
Since the key functions of food packaging include ensuring such products are safely and hygienically sealed, the acts of opening and closing a pack often become the major issue for elderly people. In the case of the UK, one interesting innovation for 2011 aims to provide a solution to the problem of opening metal lug closures on glass jars for seniors. British jams and preserves producer Duerr’s chose to use Crown Holdings’ Orbit easy-to-open metal lug closure.
Narrowing in on single households
The shrinking of household sizes has perhaps impacted the fmcg packaging industry even more to 2011/2012.
Over this period, a number of packaging developments have aimed to meet the demands of single households; and this has often taken the form of smaller and single-serve pack sizes.
These smaller formats often enable not only better portion suitability but also higher convenience; as many consumers living in single households are also urban people with relatively hectic lifestyles.
And this is not just in ready meal categories; for instance in Poland, a dried processed pasta folding carton was released under brand Podravka (Podravka dd), offering inside four single-serve portions packaged in flexible plastic of 85g each.
Meanwhile in France, leading ketchup brand owner Heinz France launched a 250g version of its standard PET bottle; a format more suitable for single households but also with a top down design as well as a more hygienic plastic screw closure fitted with an inner valve. Over 2011-2015, one person households are anticipated to grow by another significant 23m units (forecast absolute growth 2011-2015 of world households, Source: Euromonitor International).
Developing countries will bring some of the key opportunities for packagers in addressing both the aged and single household consumer groups. In both consumers segments, there is also undeniably a wide consumer base of mid to high purchasing power to tap into. Yet, while single household consumers are very much being targeted among brand owner’s marketing and R&D departments, the ageing population still presents large potential for packaging innovation and unit growth; as long as the margins are kept under control.