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Trends, the Independent, and AICC

By Michael DAngelo

March 22, 2021

width=107Here we are in 2021. All our 2020 problems are not behind us, but we do begin the year with hopes of better things for our country, our communities, and our industry.

Regarding the industry, aside from substrate shortages, can things get any better? Data continues to pour in about the “hot and historic” demand that is causing backlogs at the mills and seven-day operations at box plants. Demand will eventually find a level of stability that can be addressed—through increased operating rates and additional capacity coming online at the mills, and incredibly productive and efficient printing and converting technologies at the box plants.

That leaves us to ponder what is permanent about the disruptions of the past year driving the market surge and what is transient.

Prognostications are not my strong suit, but I do pay attention to several resources and have been compiling a list of trends identified by others that I believe every AICC member needs to keep in mind as they game-plan their todays and tomorrows.

The Fastmarkets RISI International Containerboard Conference took place in November. From my notes, here are some things to consider:

  • Greg Tucker, Chair and CEO of Bay Cities: “Everything is going to get faster.”
  • Packaging selling on the shelf and online.
  • Mass customization/personalization = boxes on demand.
  • Automation of the ordering process.
  • The future of the independent is with small and medium-sized companies buying from them, while Amazon and consumer packaged goods buy from big players.

AICC member Pratt Industries has shared its view of future packaging trends:

  • Lightweighting
  • 100% recycled packaging
  • Less plastic in packaging
  • Personalized digital printing and promotion
  • The smart box
  • Subscription boxes
  • Portion control and focus on food waste reduction

Finally, Smithers has put out a market report that includes five key trends that are changing the future of the corrugated packaging market:

  • E-commerce
  • Fit to product
  • Sustainability
  • Retail changes
  • Digital printing advancements

These diverse sources all seem to see common threads that bear attention. AICC committees and staff have been taking and will continue to take these into consideration when planning AICC programming for online events, our Spring Meeting at Amelia Island, FL April 26 – 28 and beyond.

In the meantime, AICC continues to provide: virtual plant tours, which have proven to be very popular; Converter Think Tanks on the timely of importance to members; a robust schedule of webinars and online hybrid events; and AICC’s Packaging School, which continues to add courses in both English and Spanish.

Now, if AICC could just find a way to instantly add a paper mill to our member services.

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Michael D’Angelo

AICC President