What demands does the packing of sweets and snacks have to satisfy in the year 2020 and beyond? ProSweets Cologne, which is being staged from 2 to 5 February 2020, aims to provide answers to these questions. 

Less plastic, more renewable raw materials, lower packing weight and recyclability are the focus of the solutions presented in Cologne. Due to the digitalisation, the theme product information is also taking on a new standing at the international supplier trade fair for the sweets and snacks industry, which is playing an increasingly bigger role at the point of sale. 

Snacks and sweets are classic on-the-go products: They are frequently purchased spontaneously and eaten en route. The convenience of the packing plays a decisive role here. However, this no longer suffices alone: Almost 70 percent of the consumers in this country have at least refrained from purchasing a product once because the packing wasn't sustainable enough. Every fifth German citizen (19.3 percent) regularly puts the products back on the shelf for this reason. This was the outcome of a representative survey, which the German Packing Institute published in June 2019. Some of the chain stores are also picking up on this theme and have started releasing recyclable executions. 

Sweet and snack manufacturers, who want to be a step ahead of their rivals, have realised that the sustainability of the packing always has a decisive influence over the success at the point of sale. Especially the brand manufacturers are consistently pursuing a goal, which is being reflected by many of the innovations at ProSweets Cologne: As little packing as possible, as much as necessary! Plastic that is difficult to recycle is being gradually removed from the range. At the same time, more alternative packing materials such as compostable paper-based and bio-degradable materials are being implemented. 

Paper that can be formed without glue In order to satisfy the permanently increasing demands for the sustainability of packing, the fields of application of paper are being continuously further developed. The latest innovations include packets made of 100 percent recyclable lightweight paper, which replaces plastic blister. It is folded into different shapes by a rotating assembly machine of the latest generation. 

The principle: A tray cutout made of ultra-light corrugated cardboard is taken out of the blanks magazine, pressed through the tooling plate and fed out of the machine as finished packing. Since the packet can be shaped through interlocking completely without glue, the consumer can easily dispose of it in the paper waste. From here it is directly taken to the paper treatment plant and fed back into the cycle as recycled paper. What at the first glance conjures up the idea of Japanese paper folding art, is the result of a close cooperation between the machine builders and packing specialists. 

New materials for real recycling products 

However not only packing made of FSC-certified paper are become a "true" recycling product at the Cologne fair grounds. The exhibitors of ProSweets Cologne are presenting fully recyclable or bio-degradable foils in Hall 10.1. The innovative material often have the same mechanical characteristics as conventional PET/PE composite foil and can be directly processed into individual and multipacks using tubular bag machines. 

Whether paper on the lid or in the lower film, in tubular bags or single-serving packaging, full-surface, laminated strips or with viewing windows that are individually designed and cut per laser - the segment of sustainable, composite materials is growing as is the diversity of the equipment. And for the economic twist packing of chocolate, hard or soft bonbons and chewing gum there is in the meantime a wide choice of paper-based foil solutions. Here materials made of regrowing raw materials are exploiting their strengths, because they reduce the amount of plastic of the composite material. 

"The industry is pursuing a host of approaches for designing and producing packing in a sustainable manner," is how Micha Goes commented the developments on the market. He assumes that the variety of materials will continue to increase and that the recycling technology will become further improved. At ProSweets Cologne the Executive Director of the design agency, Pacoon, intends to motivate the sweets manufacturers to assert themselves more actively for more sustainable packing solutions – and is placing the focus here on approaches like refuse, renew, remove and recycle. In the scope of the special event PACKAGING "Function meets Design", he and his team will present concepts for the future. 

On the way to the digital multi-talent 

Brands that clearly present themselves on sustainable packing fall under the current consumer preference for minimalism and clean label. As such, the manufacturers attain a huge reach at the point of sale, however "often not all information can be stated on the packing that the consumer wants to know," explained Alexander Schenk, Chief Design Director at the agency DeTeMa. This is where the digitalisation of packing comes into play, a further theme that the special event will focus on at ProSweets Cologne under the motto "Extended Packaging". Alexander Schenk: "Technologies capable of interacting, that are based on digital codes like Digimarc have the potential to turn packing into multi-talents." 

The special thing about the Digimarc code: It is invisible to the human eye and is attached to the entire packing – a sort of watermark that not only allows the Global Trade Item Number to be encrypted or accelerates the checkout process. It also enables a link to the social media. The real and digital world simply merge at the point of sale by pointing the camera of a smartphone on any point of the packing. The recipe, nutrients or allergy warnings can be called up together with offers, prize draws or coupons. 

Best practice solutions for every trend 

How can snacks and sweets do justice to the manifold demands of packing? What do they have to take into account when providing additional product information? From 2 to 5 February 2020, ProSweets Cologne will present the entire supplier spectrum of the sweets and snacks industry: from manifold ingredients to innovative packing machines and materials through to optimised production technologies, that do justice to the highest demands in quality and efficiency. Central industry themes will also be discussed on the Speakers Corners, the central lecture stage of ProSweets Cologne. Furthermore, the ISM Packaging Award powered by ProSweets Cologne will once again be conferred for the most innovative packing. The B2B trade fair is staged in Cologne parallel to ISM, the trade fair for sweets and snacks, and covers the entire value chain of the sweets industry.