Packaging trends and forecasts for the next three years

We have just left a controversial year behind, and now we are full of expectations and hopes for the year ahead. From the world of packaging comes a breath of optimism.

Mecs-Centro Studi Ucima predicts a scenario of growth – overall and worldwide. Let’s see which countries will be most involved, which products and materials will be trending and which formats will find a place on our shelves from now to 2024.


According to Mecs-Centro Studi Ucima, in the three-year period 2021-2024, there will be over 300 billion more packaged products on our shelves around the world.

The continent where the largest number will be concentrated (1,709 billion corresponding to the 44.5%) is Asia. Europe holds the second place, followed by North and South America. However, Middle East/Africa is the area that is developing the fastest.

Products and packaging materials

This growth trend will mostly influence soft drink, dairy and confectionery sectors which will absorb a total of 73% of the 200 billion new packages expected in the next three years (2021-2024). Salty snacks, oil, biscuits, sauces, baked goods, pasta/noodles and alcohol are the sectors to follow.

In the beverage industry, bottled mineral water and alcoholic drinks – based on fruit or juices – will prevail. Flavored waters (+ 4.7%) and energy drinks (+ 3.7%) will also grow. Sport drinks and sparkling water are going to increase with equal merit (+ 3.5%).

As for the upcoming trends about materials, the market will be driven by flexible plastic packaging, with approximately 115 billion new packaged products. But PET bottles and plastic pouches will experience the fastest growth rate.
In spite of the desire to move towards more sustainable materials, plastic will still be the most used raw material –about 90% of the new packaged products.

In detail, 52.7% of the new products will be packaged with flexible plastic, 24.5% with PET and 11.1% with thin plastic containers.
The remaining slice will use paper (holding the second place), metal and glass packaging (third and forth place).
Only a small percentage will be using composite materials.


Small packs (0-100 gr/ml) will be preferred in beauty, personal care, food and home care sectors, mostly due to the practical lifestyle of the modern consumer.

Packaging is about to experience an encouraging three-year period, during which companies will be asked to look toward an increasingly prosperous future – but with even more sustainable objectives.