“Our focus extends across various facets of packaging”


In an exclusive interview, Soha Atallah, Vice President of the World Packaging Organisation (WPO), shares insights into the WPO’s influence in global packaging, discussing the WorldStar Awards, sustainability challenges, and AI’s impact. She shares her views on the WorldStar 2024 winners and upcoming trends, providing a snapshot of the future of packaging innovation.

1. As Vice President of the WPO and recently as Vice President for Marketing, how do you see the organisation’s role in shaping the future of packaging? And what initiatives is the WPO currently focusing on to promote innovation and sustainability in packaging globally?

I envision our organisation as the driving force behind shaping the future of packaging on a global scale. WPO plays a pivotal role in uniting national and regional packaging associations and institutes from 63 countries, forming a collective voice for the industry. Our focus extends across various facets of packaging, including innovation, technology, sustainability,education, saving food waste and promoting  food preservation, branding and how packaging can be a marketing tool and and supply chain efficiency.

To actively promote innovation and sustainability, WPO spearheads initiatives such as the renowned WorldStar Awards. This prestigious global packaging competition not only recognises exceptional innovations worldwide but also dedicates a special category to sustainability. WorldStar serves as a powerful platform to showcase and celebrate advancements that contribute to a more sustainable future. The competition encourages participants to push the boundaries of creativity while embracing sustainable practices. By providing valuable resources and recognition through WorldStar, WPO plays a pivotal role in steering the industry towards a future marked by innovation, environmental consciousness, and global collaboration. (Only winners of national and regional packaging competitions recognised by WPO are eligible to apply for WorldStar . WorldStar is about recognising the best of the best packaging innovations from around the globe)

In addition, WPO recently released a comprehensive guide for Packaging Design for recycling, available for download on our website in multiple languages at this link . This initiative underscores our commitment to fostering sustainable practices within the packaging industry. 

2.In your opinion, what are the key challenges in balancing food safety and sustainability in packaging design?

During the process of packaging design, we should always aim to reach a balance between sustainability and product protection & food safety. Over-packaging contributes to environmental strain and an inefficient use of resources. Therefore it is important to design packaging using the right material and the needed weight of packaging material that reduces waste, supports a circular economy, and minimises environmental impact. However, while advocating for minimalism, we must not compromise on the primary function of packaging: safeguarding and protecting  the product from external, biological or chemical factors. 

Under-packaging or reducing materials excessively can jeopardise product protection, potentially leading to shorter shelf lives or compromised product quality. Addressing the challenge of food waste is paramount especially with the given striking numbers of hunger and poverty around the world. Packaging serves as a vital tool in prolonging shelf life and safeguarding products from damage. Thus, optimising a minimalist approach means finding the equilibrium between reducing environmental impact and ensuring the necessary protection for products, effectively contributing to a sustainable packaging model.

3.Can you discuss specific ways AI is enhancing efficiency and innovation in packaging design and production?”

The packaging industry, much like other business sectors, stands to gain significant advantages from AI technology. AI integration promises automation, a key driver that enhances productivity, saves time, and reduces costs. By leveraging AI capabilities in areas where its precision and efficiency surpass human capabilities, the packaging industry can streamline processes, optimise operations, and achieve higher levels of output and cost-efficiency.

Harnessing AI in packaging involves integrating the new technology into various aspects of the packaging process, from conceptualisation and the packaging design and production to the supply chain, distribution and marketing.

AI can support the packaging industry in the following aspects: 

  1. Quality Control and Inspection: AI-driven systems can conduct quality control checks during the packaging process to identify defects or inconsistencies in packaging  
  2. Maintenance for Packaging Equipment : AI can predict machinery maintenance needs, reducing downtime and preventing unexpected breakdowns. 
  3. Supply Chain Optimisation: AI algorithms analyse vast amounts of data to optimise supply chain logistics, predicting demand, reducing inventory waste, and improving overall efficiency.
  4. Personalised Packaging: AI enables data-driven personalisation in packaging and marketing strategies. By analysing consumer behaviors and preferences, brands can create personalised packaging experiences tailored to individual customers.
  5. Digital Packaging: AI integrated with sensors can create smart packaging solutions. These packages can track product conditions such as  data on shelf time and temperature in order to  enhance consumer interaction.

4.Regarding the recently announced WorldStar 2024 winners, what unique qualities did the winning designs possess?

The recently announced WorldStar 2024 winners demonstrated exceptional qualities, making them stand out in the global packaging landscape. This year, 435 entries from 41 countries competed for the prestigious award.

 The Top Five winners, by country, are Japan (28), Germany (21), Australia and New Zealand (16), USA (12), and Brazil and Austria (11 each)

The international judging panel, comprised of 45 packaging professionals from 45 WPO member countries, meticulously evaluated entries based on the following judging criteria:

  • Sustainability
  • Protection and preservation of contents
  • Sales Appeal: On-Pack Branding/ Marketability
  • Ergonomics
  • Quality of Execution
  • Cost Reduction, economy of material, and cost-saving
  • Ease of handling, filling, closing, opening, and reclosing
  • Creativity and Innovation

The winners showcased innovation and excellence in these aspects, highlighting advancements in packaging technology and design. The increasing number of entries each year reflects the industry’s commitment to efficiency, sustainability, and meeting modern life needs.

The complete list of winners is available on the WorldStar webpages, and the award ceremony is scheduled for June 15 2024 in Bangkok-Thailand during ProPak Asia. At this event, special categories, including the President’s Award, Sustainability Award, Marketing Award, and Packaging that Saves Food Award, will also be announced.

5.Can you share your insights on the most significant global packaging trends we’re seeing in 2024?

These trends are reshaping the packaging industry , influencing consumer choices, and driving innovation within the packaging  industry:

  1. Sustainability: Sustainability will remain the major trend for packaging for the coming years. Consumers are putting pressure on their preferred brands to shift towards sustainable packaging materials like bioplastics, compostable materials, and recyclable options. Consumers and companies are emphasising eco-friendly choices to reduce environmental impact.
  2. Price Sensitive : Due to inflation resulting from crises  and wars around the world, consumers are becoming price sensitive and are cutting budges on their expenses. Therefore packaging should be cost efficient and brand owners are advised to invest in less costly packaging materials such as mono materials .
  3. Interactive/Digital Packaging: The integration of technology into packaging, such as QR codes, augmented reality, RFID tags, and sensors, is transforming traditional packaging into smart, interactive solutions. These technologies enable better traceability, product information, and even real-time monitoring of product conditions.
  4. Minimalist Packaging Designs & Convenience: Less is more is the trend in packaging design. Clean and minimalist packaging designs that prioritise functionality and convenience are becoming more popular. Consumers appreciate packaging that is easy to use, store, and dispose of without compromising on protection or aesthetics.
  5. Personalisation & Limited Edition : Packaging is becoming more personalised to cater to individual preferences and experiences. Customised designs or limited edition design or the use of special  messages, or even interactive elements on packaging allow brands to interact with their consumers on a personal basis. In 2024, consumers crave uniqueness. Limited edition and personalised packaging are on the rise, offering a more personalised touch. Brands are tailoring their packaging to connect with consumers on a more individual level.

Soha Atallah will be presents during the show ALL4PACK EMBALLAGE PARIS, in November for the 2024 edition .

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