Packaging in the Era of COVID-19

Packaging in the Era of COVID-19

During the Covid-19 pandemic, the demand for packaging has increased as more shoppers rely on online purchasing and home delivery. Small grocers, providores and supermarkets are delivering for the first time or have had to adjust to increasing their home delivery services.

The demand for eCommerce wholesale packaging has grown enormously with strapping, pallet wrapping machines, pallet wrap and shrink wrap all having demand increased more than ever before, as hygiene products such as gloves, masks, sanitiser and gowns are being shifted from ports, factories and suppliers, out into the community.

With the changes brought about by Covid-19 comes the increased need for packaging, bags and cartons. There has been a mad scramble for businesses who were offering limited eCommerce avenues to switch their business model to one of providing a robust, fully featured eCommerce store which requires packaging and full focused home and postal delivery systems via their


Even though there are hygiene concerns for handling home deliveries, customers still want businesses to take their environmental concerns to heart. The overuse of plastic and oversized packaging is still a sore point for customers. As consumers, we all realise packaging is a necessary evil, but the wastage can be mitigated with considered reductions in overuse.

Product and consumer safety

Postal deliveries are touched at least 20 times, raising the potential for damage compared to an item bought directly from a brick and mortar store. It’s a fine balance between protective packing and packaging overuse.

There is some question as to whether using plastic mailer bags are more hygienic compared to paper satchels and void fills. The potential for spreading the virus on the surface of mail and deliveries was originally a concern but testing in labs has revealed that the Corona Virus stays stable on plastic surfaces longer than cardboard. The virus can survive up to 72 hours on plastic and 24 hours on cardboard.

Packaging post-COVID

There is no doubt about it, COVID has changed the way we will look at packaging into the future. There will be increased demand for hygienic practices which may mean an increase in single-use packaging. For the health of our environment, the concern is we might see a reversal in the trends in green packaging. The re-introduction of single-use packaging could reverse the progress made toward reducing waste.

Packaging Suppliers

International avenues for imported packaging are no longer viable as routes and ports have closed resulting in delays of shipments. Local manufacturers and suppliers of packaging are seeing a boost in revenue and its helping to reduce the carbon footprint of consumers by removing the reliance on imported products.

The biggest growth in packaging production and the industries that will most influence the shape of packaging’s future will be in groceries and eCommerce.

Grocery industry packaging

During COVID here has been a shift in consumer habits to buying groceries and other food items in hermetically sealed packaging rather than loose, such as fruit and veg. Consumers feel safer knowing that packed food has been handled less often but according to Food Standards Australia and & New Zealand there is no evidence you can contract Corona Virus from food and food packaging. It is not a foodborne disease.

The pandemic has brought new challenges to the fresh food industry. There is a likelihood that sales in plastic wraps and heat-sealed plastic packets will increase. The grocery industry will have to adopt a new approach to address consumer safety concerns. Customers still expect the grocery industry to continue developing packaging innovations that protect food from contamination while also recyclable in the curb-side waste stream. Food packaging has a renewed responsibility to do its part in the circular economy.

eCommerce wholesale packaging

Consumers flocked to online shopping platforms for essential items during COVID, and most have had a positive experience, particularly enjoying the convenience of home deliveries. It is expected that this buying habit will continue post-pandemic. It has also created a new revenue stream for retailers which will continue post-COVID.

While we will see an increase in packaging for eCommerce in essentials, we will see a lessening of packaging consumed in the non-essential trade as consumers curb spending over time until there is a full recovery from the economic crisis our country is in.

The next phase

Packaging companies are going to have to rethink packaging design to step beyond performance and cost. Three major areas for improvement are going to come out of COVID:

  • sustainability
  • eCommerce click and collect
  • hygiene.

Changes in packaging design will be influenced by the eCommerce sector as brick and mortar stores give way to more online shopping.

Consumers will also move away from non-essential online shopping and focus more of their spending dollars on health and hygiene. This will also create new developments in packaging design.

The trend to downsize packaging and use right-sized packaging will be continuing with greater demand. Using less fills, increasing volume density without weighting up the package will be a design focus.

Efficient delivery systems will influence packaging design to withstand the rigours of transport while protecting goods inside.

Aesthetics will always play a role in customer appeal. It engenders brand loyalty and positive unboxing experience for the consumer.

In summing up, changes are developing in the packaging industry due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The most positive thing to come out of it is that packing manufacturers and developers will take sustainability to the design table along with more efficient and hygienic elements in the mix.