Over the past month, we have all been part of conversations talking about how this is a moment-in-time that will change behaviors, change economies, change lives. We often find ourselves reflecting on changes that were made after other moments-in-time; from big bang moments like the launching of the internet to extreme negatives, such as 9/11. In the flexible packaging industry, we may be on the verge of as big a wave of change as we have ever seen before … the shift toward digital printing.
The hockey-stick increase in demand that we have seen for flexible packaging can absolutely be tied to a population retreated to their homes and the dramatic shift in the need for packaged food that has prolonged shelf life and can be easily transported.
Converters find themselves pushed to their capacity, operating in this difficult environment to produce essential packaging for everything from nuts to pharmaceuticals. Many digital converters are benefiting from the overflow of larger analog converters, exposing new customers to their capabilities. So, what happens when the world comes back out of our caves? Will demand and production methods return to pre-virus conditions?
No, I don’t believe so. This moment has exposed not just the value of flexible packaging, it has shown many medium to large brands what was already known by smaller brands. The converters with digital printing capabilities can do more than just customize and do short runs. These converters have the ability to produce high-quality, cost-effective pouches and flow wraps and sachets and turn them around faster than anything they’ve experienced with the tried-and-true methods of the past.
The new normal requires we plan on a degree of chaos and uncertainty far greater than before this moment. This means throughout the value-chain we need to stay flexible and avoid tying up working capital in inventory. It means we need to be adaptable enough to add instructions, regulations and information, keeping our packaging current and maybe even customized for the region. It requires having the speed to react to shifts in design and demand and market opportunities, such as more sustainable packaging. All of this describes the converter with digital printing capability.
For the past few years, digital printing has been on the rise at a higher rate than the overall market for flexible packaging. That was before this moment-in-time. Coming out of this, which will hopefully be soon, watch for the continued exponential explosion in demand for the digital converter.
If you are a digital converter, this will be your moment in time. Use social marketing, networking and promotion to deliver the message that your operation is agile and ready with the cost-effectiveness and speed you can deliver with your model. Connect with us at S-OneLP so we can help you create that flexibility and streamline your costs, inventory and workflow.