Coffee packaging trends: What to consider in 2024

Sam Shipiti
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January 16, 2024
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The coffee packaging industry is constantly evolving, with new materials, shapes, and designs hitting the market each year. Keeping on top of packaging trends can add value to a coffee roasters brand and ensure products stay relevant to customers.

As 2024 dawns, so has a fresh wave of coffee packaging trends. These are driven by a mix of factors ranging from technological and economic changes to the evolving needs and expectations of consumers. Interestingly, a 2023 study found consumers can easily lose trust in a brand that does not evolve with them. 

To unpack the predicted coffee packaging trends for the year, I spoke to Miranda Caldwell, the founder and co-CEO of The Coffee MBA, a platform offering consulting and education tailored for the coffee industry, with a focus on business-related aspects.

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Coffee packaging materials: What’s popular and why? 

Until recently, plastic was the primary material used in coffee packaging. However, that’s changing as the push towards sustainability continues to gain momentum. Miranda notes that compared to five years ago, there are far more packaging options available, particularly in terms of compostability, recyclability, and reusability. 

Traditional plastics are being replaced with eco-friendly alternatives, such as low-density polyethylene (LDPE), polyethylene terephthalate (PET), and polylactic acid (PLA), which is compostable. Beyond this, kraft paper, rice paper, and cardboard packaging are increasing in popularity. Deciding which is best for your business will depend on various factors. 

“Always make sure the packaging material you chose aligns with your business values and what you are trying to communicate,” Miranda advises, adding that it should also align with your budget. “If sustainability is something you want to communicate, it’s important to know that you’ll have to spend a little extra money on sustainable packaging,” she says.  

Miranda notes that she’s yet to find an entirely ‘perfect’ packaging solution. “I’ve worked with companies that have invested in recyclable products and had a very low recycling rate because consumers had to turn in the bags or take them to collection centres.” 

In her opinion, compostable materials feel like the answer to sustainability calls, especially if they are backyard compostable. “But those too are not yet perfect either,” she adds. “To me, the most important aspect is reusability.” 

However, this packaging model often requires a specific type of consumer. “Knowing who you are selling to will help you identify which materials are valuable for your business,” Miranda highlights.  

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Coffee packaging trends to note in 2024

Sustainable materials

Research shows that 63% of consumers remain willing to pay a premium for brands with leading sustainability practices and eco-friendly packaging. As a result, the majority of coffee brands, and other businesses, will be investing further into packaging and design techniques that have little to zero effect on the environment. 

Returnable packaging options

Of the many solutions being trialled to curb the pollution problem, returnable coffee packaging has become a popular option. Notably, it’s estimated the value of the returnable packaging market will exceed $170 billion by the end of the decade. This is further supported by a survey where 74% of consumers expressed interest in buying products that come in refillable or reusable packaging.

Minimalistic designs

In an interview with Packaging Europe, the marketing manager at Easyfairs, Naomi Stewart, remarked on how toning down graphics and using the bare minimum to convey a brand’s message helps consumers focus on what matters. 

That’s an observation Miranda agrees with. “These days, you want to communicate with a customer as clearly and quickly as possible.” However, she maintains that for customers to take action, your messaging needs to be accurate. A minimalist coffee bag design can help reduce costs by using fewer resources while aligning with sustainability goals.

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What’s popular with custom printed coffee bags? 

“I think customisation is going to become more important as time goes on, ” Miranda says, while also expressing regrets that the industry is yet to fully maximise the opportunities here. “In the coffee industry, we’re quite behind on the customisation trend.” 

To address this, she encourages coffee brands to research other sectors and experiment with their product packaging. “Study other industries and be much more creative in coming up with your packaging.“   

“I love it when other coffee roasters incorporate different, unique styles of packaging, such as coffee in cans,” Gefen Skolnick, the founder of Couplet Coffee told MTPak Coffee in an article on sensory branding. “Notably, I’ve seen a recent trend of VHS tape-style packaging in coffee.” 

Personalisation

To make customers feel more valued, brands are placing more focus on creating personal experiences for their customers. “If you have a corporate client, for instance, you can create a unique label or special coffee blend, if possible.” 

Understandably, there may be challenges when it comes to minimum order quantities (MOQs), especially for smaller businesses. However, investing in stock coffee bags and creating custom-printed labels can help reduce costs and print run quantities. 

Certifications

Miranda also encourages businesses to think about certifications. “The reason certifications are so powerful is because they can easily be identified in the consumer’s mind,” she explains. When you are looking for ways to communicate quickly about your brand, anything that’s identifiable like that could be very helpful. 

Notably, a 2023 Macfarlane Unboxing survey found that 55% of consumers want businesses to keep sustainable packaging as a priority going into 2024. However, in the same survey, 42% of customers felt that sustainability shouldn’t come at a premium. Therefore, businesses need to find the balance between sustainability and costs, given the current inflation and unstable economic conditions. 

At MTPak Coffee, we take pride in creating bespoke coffee packaging solutions that won’t break the bank while appealing to eco-conscious consumers and ensuring your coffee stays fresh. Having worked with speciality coffee roasters from around the world and catered to their unique packaging preferences, we are ready to help you too create the best recyclable, compostable, and biodegradable for your coffee business and consumers. 

Plus, our range of customisation techniques is completely eco–friendly, thanks to our use of digital printing technology and sustainable inks. 

For more information on custom coffee bags, contact our team

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