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Packaging has thrived in the Internet era.  Services like Amazon and eBay have driven packaging volumes for years.  Additionally, in high-end packaging, innovative solutions involving cellulose-based and plastic-based products have been very important.

Rumblings are afoot that what we have seen in packaging in the last 20 years may just be the tip of the iceberg.  The latest retail sector under assault is the walk-in store of any ilk.  In fact, Starbucks is concerned that the lack of in-person retail shopping may impact their in-store business, as well.  The logic goes that if people are not out and about shopping, they are not going to be going out just to get a latte.

One sector’s pain is another sector’s gain.  The question is how do packaging material grades made by our mills become leaders in innovation in these new paradigms?  By that I mean, what do we do besides lower basis weight? 

Packaging companies that can seize the momentum here will obviously be the ones to thrive in the near and long term. 

One place I think packaging has failed to seize the opportunity is the inside of the corrugated container.  Think about it—the recipient of a box of goodies from Amazon spends more time looking at the inside of the box than they do the outside.  Yet, have you ever seen any advertisements, information or other useful material printed on the inside of a box?  I haven’t either.  Looks like a wide open bit of real estate to me.

Jim Thompson is Executive Editor of Paperitalo Publications. He can be reached by email at jthompson@taii.com.

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