The top 3 packaging challenges in 2023: inflation, digitalisation and sustainability

The data analytics and consulting company GlobalData recently published a report entitled Top Trends in Packaging 2023, which discusses developments in the industry.

The packaging sector has been on the rise in recent years, with just a brief slowdown in 2020. However, this positive evolution is not without its challenges.

Packaging companies are currently facing three main challenges: inflation, digitalisation and sustainability. In this article, we analyse each of these challenges.


Inflation is a global phenomenon that is having a huge impact on all families. It has affected many countries, as we discussed in our article on inflation in Spain.

55% of consumers are very concerned about how it might affect their household budget. The same products now cost more, and are sometimes unaffordable, which means finding cheaper alternatives.

There are many reasons for this inflation, including the economic crisis resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, the instability of the energy sector, and the shortage of supplies as a result of the war in Ukraine.

In practical terms, this means we have to buy fewer products, because prices have risen across the board.

Obviously, this is not only affecting consumers. Packaging companies are also faced with a double challenge as a result of inflation. On the one hand, they are finding it difficult to acquire raw materials, and use suppliers and logistics services, while on the other, they must remain competitive in the market. Just raising prices does not guarantee the same profits, and may even be counterproductive.

In spite of the difficulties caused by both inflation and global economic instability, packaging companies have managed to adapt with different, complementary solutions.


Using recycled material is one of the best ways to combat inflation. Making packaging from recycled raw materials that maintain their properties is practical, cheap and sustainable, while also improving brand image and helping the environment.

Optimising packaging is another way to keep costs down. Today, a lot of packaging is designed to ensure that the product takes up as much space as possible.

This means smaller, more compact containers with the same amount of product, that allow us to maintain price levels and save on costs.

Not only does this guarantee significant savings in packaging production, but also in its transport, as more product can be moved in less time.

Last but not least, marketing is also a key factor in adapting to inflation. Packaging companies have gone further than just price savings, adopting new strategies that prioritise other values of interest to consumers.

Sustainability has become a determining factor in many marketing campaigns, with companies using it to highlight their investment in recycled materials that are produced using less energy, or which help reduce the product’s carbon footprint.


Sustainability in packaging is no longer a choice, it is now a real challenge for 2023 and for the foreseeable future.

Environmental awareness is also more widespread than ever. It has reached a point where consumers actively seek out sustainable products, in other words, products that are produced in the most environmentally friendly way possible and are also made from materials that can be reused.

The Top Trends in Packaging 2023 report demonstrates that consumers are increasingly well informed about what makes a product sustainable. Some of the main factors that customers in their purchases are:

∙ Certificates (not tested on animals, checked by third parties, etc.).
∙ Recyclable materials
∙ Recycling information
∙ Country of origin
∙ Method of production
∙ Impact of the packaging on sea life
∙ Information on carbon footprint
∙ Information on water footprint

This demonstrates that consumers want clear and accessible environmental information on packaging, as well as information on how they can personally reduce their carbon footprint.

In response, packaging companies should be looking to provide direct information about the production of their packaging and how it contributes to sustainability.

In addition, sustainable packaging solutions are increasingly being written into law.


The UK introduced ‘extended producer responsibility’ some time ago. With this legislation, both companies and national organisations are responsible for the cost of disposing of packaging waste from products they produce or import.

Moreover, a national recycling programme is also being developed with the aim of increasing recycled domestic waste.

SPG has had this same commitment to sustainability for years. Our strategies have complementary objectives, including:

∙ producing sustainable packaging based on the three Rs: reduce, reuse and recycle
∙ minimising the carbon footprint; associated with packaging production as much as possible;
∙ promoting the circular economy by giving new life to our products;
∙ investing in the development of monomaterial and/or recyclable materials.

The fruit of our investment in sustainability is our ECO range, which consists of products such as PE ECO, PE HB ECO and PP HB ECOTOP.

These structures are fully recyclable as they consist of more than 90% polypropylene. The remaining materials do not interfere in the recycling process.


The third main challenge for the packaging sector in 2023 is common to other industries. Digital transformation is essential for maintaining optimum levels of competitiveness and adapting to new consumer profiles.

The GlobalData report on packaging trends indicates that 41% of consumers prefer products that are digitally advanced and 64% believe that high-tech is a must for incentivising buyers.

As we live more digital lives, it is clear that this factor is crucial for the packaging sector in two ways. On the one hand, packaging is a basic logistical need for products sold online. On the other, digitalisation must also provide added value for consumers in terms of quality, traceability and promotions.

On a B2C level, online shopping is becoming increasingly widespread. To incentivise buyers, packaging companies need to adapt to this trend and offer an attractive digital catalogue that is easily accessible, even from mobile phones.

On a more technical level, packaging companies also need to adapt and include new technologies for product identification, for example QR codes and RFID or NFC tags, which also provide additional information to consumers.

Digitalisation even affects the presentation of packaging. Digital printing systems are a quick and economic way to get unique designs that stand out on the shelves.

Digital printing is perfect for short and very short runs (over 1,000 m2), and is especially suited to one-off and seasonal campaigns.

There are currently many ways you can embrace digitalisation. The key to success is choosing the path of continuous investment in new technologies to adapt efficiently to the constant evolution of the packaging sector.

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At SP Group we optimise our production processes to provide the most efficient service to large industry. Many multinational companies already trust our ability to meet their flexible packaging needs on a daily basis.
If you would like to know how your company can benefit from our services, send us your details and one of our sales advisors will contact you. Or, if you prefer, consult the contact details of your area representative.