Smart Packaging – How Technology is Embedding Intelligence into Packaging

Powered by

All the vital news, analysis, and commentary curated by our industry experts.

The packaging sector is on the edge of massive transformation with emerging technologies such as AI, alternative reality, IoT, robotics, and nanotechnology in action to advance automated, connected, eco-friendly, and customized packaging solutions, as well as better, engage customers with product content and immersive purchasing experiences. Technologies such as smart labels, QR codes, RFID tags, NFC chips, augmented reality are disrupting traditional packaging by fetching real-time information and establishing communication about products that can enhance customer experience and engagement.

Sustainable packaging is gaining traction as consumers are becoming more aware of the negative consequences of plastics used in packaging While one innovator is using sugarcane-based packaging to replace plastics in milk cartons, another is offering aluminum-free aseptic cartons packs for oxygen-sensitive products such as fruit juices. Nanotechnology is being leveraged to develop cellulose-based renewable packaging material to replace plastics, waxes, and non-biodegradable materials in packaging.

Technologies such as 3D printing and nanotechnology are providing advanced customization in packaging. For instance, stereolithographic photopolymer materials-based 3D printers are providing packaging options for material, color, and product development. Expanded polystyrene (EPS) packaging with an active protective layer leveraging nanotechnology is being used to ensure hygiene in the transportation and storage of food and protection of vegetable products, consumables, or vaccines from viral agents.

What are the key strategic challenges faced in the packaging sector?

Traditional packaging is often challenged by various factors, including rising material cost, the use of plastics threatening the environment, and creating compelling first impressions to consumers. The key challenges faced in the packaging sector include:

Distribution: The rise of e-commerce and last-mile delivery forces packaging to scale up while keeping the products inside safe and fall within health and safety guidelines.

Point of sale impression: As consumers rely heavily on first impressions, the focus on the packaging is more driven towards customer interaction and engagement, convenience, and ergonomics.

Rising costs: Increasing material cost directly impacts the packaging cost, which necessitates alternative ways to reduce it through production optimization.

Sustainability/regulatory: As the world is progressing to fight climate change for a sustainable future, companies are subject to compliance with the changing regulatory standards.

Product protection: Amid growing consumer awareness, companies are obligated to translate packaging quality into customer satisfaction with a value proposition in terms of product strength and brand reputation.

Which technologies are helping the packaging sector?

3D printing, AI, AR, blockchain, cloud, digitization, machine learning, robotics, nanotech, and IoT are the technologies that are helping the sector. The adoption of emerging technologies to address bottlenecks and accelerate innovation is significant across the value chain of the packaging sector. Some of their use cases include custom packaging, interactive packaging, supply tracking, and production optimization.

Smart packaging sector, by key technologies

Smart packaging sector, by key technologies

For more technology insights, download a free report sample

What are the key use cases of emerging technologies in the smart packaging sector value chain?

The value chain consists of packaging material production, packaging converters, filling & packing, wholesale, distribution & logistics, and retailers/consumers. The use cases of emerging technologies are increasing across the packaging sector value chain to broadly maximize output, minimize risk, and control cost.

Packaging material production: Technologies such as IoT and 3D printing are increasingly crucial in packaging materials production to decrease the production time and improve the strength. Key packaging vendors are leveraging 3D printing technology to improve the flexibility and efficiency to produce packaging products. 3D printers offer options such as material, color, and efficiency for design and development. Sweden’s technology startup Celwise has partnered with Pennsylvania’s machine industry company ExOne to develop sustainable packaging materials Celwise leverages metal tools 3D printed by ExOne in 316L stainless steel to transform wood and other cellulose fibers into sustainable molded fiber products that can replace single-use plastics. The key part of Celwise’s patented production method for producing the new type of molded fiber product is uniquely featured metal tooling that can only be made with additive manufacturing including ExOne’s binder jetting technology.    

Packaging converters: Technologies such as 3D printing, AI, and AR are driving innovation in the packaging converters value chain to optimize design and production. Packaging system provider Gogliohas integrated standard 3D printed parts into its packaging machinery. The machine boosts the manufacturing of packaging machines, flexible laminates, and plastic accessories. Goglioaims to improve the production process to engage customers in the long run, therefore, garnering revenues. 

Filling & packing: Robotics is one of the major emerging technologies widely used to automate various activities like filling, labelling, palletizing, and inspection. Packaging companies are increasingly adopting AI and robotics for automated inspection to improve traceability and ensure desired quality of the final product. Italian multinational company Stevanatohas unveiled an AI-equipped robotic-controlled inspection system ‘Vision Robot Unit’ (VRU). It is designed to fulfill and adapt to emerging smart factory needs of automated inspection that enhances the control process reliability. VRU’s ML capabilities automate the inspection of applications in the pharma development and manufacturing landscape, including biotech products such as vaccines and lyophilized drugs, and monoclonal antibodies (mAbs).

Wholesale, distribution & logistics: Robots and NFC-powered supply tracking solutions find their application in the wholesale, distribution & logistics value chain to improve operational efficiency. They are widely deployed for packaging assembly and to automate repetitive tasks in the warehouse. Polish robot startup No magic has introduced warehouse robots to automate the role of humans picking items up out of a box. The robots can automate repetitive tasks in warehouses that were previously carried out by humans.

Retailers/consumers: The benefits of emerging technologies are seen notably in the retailers/consumers value chain where robotics, AI, blockchain, cloud, IoT, and ML are helping for automated replenishment, medication adherence, product authenticity, recycling, and shelf-life analysis. Automated replenishment solutions leveraging AI and ML are gaining popularity to improve operational efficiency and customer satisfaction. Finland technology company Relex has unveiled an automated replenishment and allocation solution that enables businesses to reduce their inventory, out of stocks, and food waste. The company leverages AI and ML for demand forecasting and improving planning processes across merchandising, supply chain, and operations. The new solution can be adapted according to a business’ changing needs.

Market report scope

Outlook Year 2021
Emerging Technologies Packaging Materials Production, Packaging Converters, Filling & Packing, Wholesale, Distribution & Logistics and Retailers/Consumers


This report provides an in-depth analysis of the following. It provides:

  • Innovation Map: key real-world innovation use cases of emerging technologies implemented by enterprises and startups in the sector.
  • Innovation Insights: innovation examples by each value chain segment of the sector to present key trends.
  • Vendor Map: represents a sample list of vendors in each use case highlighted in the report.

Reasons to Buy

  • No surprise that technology has been a driving force in business transformation for years, but the term ‘emerging technologies’ has all of the sudden become the key catalyst to drive the next wave of innovation across sectors.
  • The sense of urgency weighs different across different sectors, where the direct customer-facing sectors are at the forefront compared to other capital-intensive sectors. Companies in one sector can take cues from successful innovations in other sectors to either draw analogies with existing products, services, and processes or transfer strategic approaches for a revolutionary transformation.
  • Against this backdrop, enterprises need to understand which emerging technologies are impacting their sector and how various companies are implementing them to meet various challenges.
  • The innovation landscape report in packaging, published by GlobalData as part of an ongoing series, covers some of the key trends, use cases, and real-world examples related to the implementation of emerging technologies across the packaging sector value chain.

Linksmart Technologies
LOG Pharma
Pickle Robot
Piramal Glass
Proco Machinery
Responsible Gold
S&R Robot Systems
Softweb Solutions
Tetra Pak

Table of Contents

1. Sector innovation insights: overview

2. What are the key sector strategic challenges faced?

3. Which technologies are helping the sector?

4. Innovation map by sector value chain: key use cases

4.1 Packaging Materials Production

4.2 Packaging Converters

4.3 Filling & Packing

4.4 Wholesale, Distribution & Logistics

4.5 Retailers/Consumers

5. Vendor map by sector value chain: key use cases

6. Methodology

Frequently asked questions

Smart Packaging – How Technology is Embedding Intelligence into Packaging standard reports
Currency USD

Can be used by individual purchaser only


Can be shared globally by unlimited users within the purchasing corporation e.g. all employees of a single company

Undecided about purchasing this report?

Enquire Before Buying Request a Free Sample

Get in touch to find out about multi-purchase discounts
Tel +44 20 7947 2745

Every customer’s requirement is unique. With over 220,000 construction projects tracked, we can create a tailored dataset for you based on the types of projects you are looking for. Please get in touch with your specific requirements and we can send you a quote.

Sample Report

Smart Packaging – How Technology is Embedding Intelligence into Packaging was curated by the best experts in the industry and we are confident about its unique quality. However, we want you to make the most beneficial decision for your business, so we offer free sample pages to help you:

  • Assess the relevance of the report
  • Evaluate the quality of the report
  • Justify the cost

Download your copy of the sample report and make an informed decision about whether the full report will provide you with the insights and information you need.

Below is a sample report to understand what you are buying

See what our customers are saying

“The GlobalData platform is our go-to tool for intelligence services. GlobalData provides an easy way to access comprehensive intelligence data around multiple sectors, which essentially makes it a one-for-all intelligence platform, for tendering and approaching customers.

GlobalData is very customer orientated, with a high degree of personalised services, which benefits everyday use. The highly detailed project intelligence and forecast reports can be utilised across multiple departments and workflow scopes, from operational to strategic level, and often support strategic decisions. GlobalData Analytics and visualisation solutions has contributed positively when preparing management presentations and strategic papers.”

Business Intelligence & Marketing Manager, SAL Heavy Lift

“COVID-19 has caused significant interference to our business and the COVID-19 intelligence from GlobalData has helped us reach better decisions around strategy. These two highlights have helped enormously to understand the projections into the future concerning our business units, we also utilise the project database to source new projects for Liebherr-Werk to use as an additional source to pitch for new business.”

Market Analyst & Management, Liebherr-Werk

Your daily news has saved me a lot of time and keeps me up-to-date with what is happening in the market, I like that you almost always have a link to the source origin. We also use your market data in our Strategic Business Process to support our business decisions. By having everything in one place on the Intelligence Center it has saved me a lot of time versus looking on different sources, the alert function also helps with this.

Head of Key Accounts, Saab AB

Having used several other market research companies, I find that GlobalData manages to provide that ‘difficult-to-get’ market data that others can’t, as well as very diverse and complete consumer surveys.

Marketing Intelligence Manager, Portugal Foods

Our experience with GlobalData has been very good, from the platform itself to the people. I find that the analysts and the account team have a high level of customer focus and responsiveness and therefore I can always rely on. The platform is more holistic than other providers. It is convenient and almost like a one stop shop. The pricing suite is highly competitive and value for our organisation.

I like reports that inform new segments such as the analysis on generation Z, millennials, the impact of COVID 19 to our banking customers and their new channel habits. Secondly the specialist insight on affluent sector significantly increases our understanding about this group of customers. The combination of those give us depth and breadth of the evolving market.

I’m in the business of answering and helping people make decisions so with the intelligence center I can do that, effectively and efficiently. I can share quickly key insights that answer and satisfy our country stakeholders by giving them many quality studies and primary research about competitive landscape beyond the outlook of our bank. It helps me be seen as an advisory partner and that makes a big difference. A big benefit of our subscription is that no one holds the whole data and because it allows so many people, so many different parts of our organisation have access, it enables all teams to have the same level of knowledge and decision support.

Head of Customer Insight and Research, Standard Chartered

“I know that I can always rely on Globaldata’s work when I’m searching for the right consumer and market insights. I use Globaldata insights to understand the changing market & consumer landscape and help create better taste & wellbeing solutions for our customers in food, beverage and healthcare industries.

Globaldata has the right data and the reports are of very high quality compared to your competitors. Globaldata not only has overall market sizes & consumer insights on food & beverages but also provides insights at the ingredient & flavour level. That is key for B2B companies like Givaudan. This way we understand our customers’ business and also gain insight to our unique industry”

Head of Consumer Sensory Insights, Givaudan

GlobalData provides a great range of information and reports on various sectors that is highly relevant, timely, easy to access and utilise.  The reports and data dashboards help engagement with clients; they provide valuable industry and market insights that can enrich client conversations and can help in the shaping of value propositions. Moreover, using GlobalData products has helped increase my knowledge of the finance sector, the players within it, and the general threats and opportunities.

I find the consumer surveys that are carried out to be extremely beneficial and not something I have seen anywhere else. They provided an insightful view of why and which consumers take (or don’t) particular financial products. This can help shape conversations with clients to ensure they make the right strategic decisions for their business.

One of the challenges I have found is that data in the payments space is often piecemeal. With GD all of the data I need is in one place, but it also comes with additional market reports that provide useful extra context and information. Having the ability to set-up alerts on relevant movements in the industry, be it competitors or customers, and have them emailed directly to me, ensures I get early sight of industry activity and don’t have to search for news.

Senior Account Manager, TSYS
Go even deeper with GlobalData Intelligence Center

Every Company Report we produce is powered by the GlobalData Intelligence Center.

Subscribing to our intelligence platform means you can monitor developments at Smart Packaging – How Technology is Embedding Intelligence into Packaging in real time.

  • Access a live Smart Packaging – How Technology is Embedding Intelligence into Packaging dashboard for 12 months, with up-to-the-minute insights.
  • Fuel your decision making with real-time deal coverage and media activity.
  • Turn insights on financials, deals, products and pipelines into powerful agents of commercial advantage.