The Flexible Packaging Association (FPA), an advocate and voice for the growing US flexible packaging industry, announced the winners of its 65th Annual Flexible Packaging Achievement Awards Competition. The winning entries were recognized during a virtual awards ceremony that was live-streamed on March 10. 

This year, 75 package entries were submitted for the competition, with a total of 201 entries (some packages were entered into multiple categories). Twenty packages were honored with 27 Achievement Awards.

The judges for this year’s competition included Cory Francer, editor-in-chief, Packaging Impressions; David Luttenberger; global packaging director, Mintel Group Ltd.; and Keith Vorst, Ph.D., director, Polymer and Food Protection Consortium, Iowa State University.

Even though we’re amid a pandemic, the judges were thrilled at the number of entries for the competition. Luttenberger notes “I think the first thing that stood out was the number of entries. We've certainly had a unique and challenging year, but to have this many entries, as many, if not more, than we've had the past couple of years certainly was unexpected.”

Technical innovation and sustainability continue to be a focus of the competition. “We saw some packaging that was what I would call the total package for new ideas and innovations,” says Vorst. “It’s not just one component but companies are looking at all the package components now, and that’s exciting.” Luttenberger notes “the technological innovations we saw this year were really unique, clever, and practical constructions, looking at the advancement of barriers, particularly for recyclable materials and extending shelf life.”

An increasing trend seen for this year’s competition was the increase in international entries. We saw some entries from the Middle East, Europe, and Asia as well. So, really a nice global mix of packaging,” notes Francer. According to Vorst, “the international entries in many cases, brought some new technology to the game. I think we're seeing a different approach for packaging, maybe some things that we wouldn't typically see here in the US, and some of the entries that were entered were really impressive.”

The printing quality of the entries this year was also remarked on by the judges. “The print quality that we saw this year was really, really impressive. Some amazing things are being done with the graphics in flexible packaging,” states Francer. Vorst agrees with Francer’s observation and adds, “it was the first thing that grabbed our attention.”

Another trend seen for the competition is companies focusing on user experience for packaging. According to Luttenberger, “flexible packaging converters are recognizing that the end-user is not always a consumer - it could be an operating room technician, an EMT, or someone in a warehouse. Making sure that the packaging works as it's supposed to, and making sure that the product maintains safety, efficacy is protected, is easy to open, can tell us when it's already been opened is important. We have to think about the user experience in the context with who the user is, not just a shopper in a store or someone preparing a meal at home, for instance.”