The key enabling technology for electronics in packaging—printed electronics—is on the verge of reducing costs for smart and intelligent packaging by 99%. That’s according to a new report, "Smart Packaging Comes To Market: Brand Enhancement with Electronics 2013-2023," from IDTechEx.
Notes the study, electronics and electrics are already used in packaging, from winking rum bottles and talking pizza boxes to aerosols that emit electrically charged insecticide that chases the bug. We even have medication that records how much is taken and when, and prompts the user. Reprogrammable phone decoration has arrived. But that is just a warm up. The key enabling technology is printed electronics, which will reduce costs by 99%. Consequently, many leading brand owners have recently put multidisciplinary teams onto the adoption of the new paper-thin electronics on their high-volume packaging. It will provide a host of consumer benefits and make competition look very tired indeed. This is mainly about modern merchandising—progressing way beyond static print—and dramatically better consumer propositions.
IDTechEx estimates the global demand for electronic smart packaging devices is currently at a tipping point and will grow rapidly to $1.45 billion by 2023. The electronic packaging (e-packaging) market will remain primarily in consumer packaged goods, reaching 14.5 billion units that have electronic functionality in 2023.
E-packaging addresses the need for brands to reconnect with the customer or face oblivion from copying, the report notes. That even applies to retailer-own brands. It addresses the aging population's consequent need for disposable medical testers and drug delivery devices. Electronic packaging addresses the fact that one third of consumers have difficulty reading ever smaller instructions.
Main drivers of the rapid growth
According to the study, the rapid growth of e-packaging will be driven by trials now being carried out by leading CPG companies and the rapid technical developments emanating from more than organizations, half of them academic, that are currently working on printed and potentially printed electronics.
The six main factors driving the rapid growth of electronic smart packaging are:
• Aging population
• Consumers are more demanding
• Consumers are wealthier
• Changing lifestyles
• Tougher legislation
• Concern about crime and the new terrorism
Says IDTechEx, there will also be growth from existing applications, such as talking pizza boxes, winking logos on multipacks of biscuits and bottles of rum, compliance monitoring blister packs in drug trials, prompting plastic bottles of drugs that prompt the user, testers on batteries, and reprogrammable decoration on mobile phones. However, IDTechEx's projected adoption only represents a few percent of CPG packages being fitted with these devices in 2023.
There are still many challenges to be addressed, notes IDTechEx, including creating sustainable e-packaging products, rather than one-off projects. Cost and lack of integrators and complete product designers are current limitations.