Healthcare Packaging: Emerging Market Trends in EMEA, APAC, and NA

Dec 9, 2016

Packaging is important on both the functional and aesthetic levels, and will undoubtedly have a major impact on the future of healthcare as a whole. It has the potential to transform the way patients receive and use medication, and improve the quality and appeal of pharmaceutical products. In this blog, we cover some of the major trends in healthcare packaging by region, looking at both specific materials and general strategies.


One trend in the EMEA market is the creation of packaging that encourages patient adherence. Getting patients to take their medication and follow a strict dosage schedule can be challenging, which is why healthcare packaging manufacturers are working on ways to make packaging more informative as well as supportive, through more attractive designs and clearer text. Further, some companies are taking the approach of creating special kits or boxes for patients that transform the medication process into something a bit more “fun” and pleasant.

Another related trend that will continue to become more prevalent in the next several years is personalization. Each patient has individual needs and therefore cannot be grouped by an illness category and treated the same as all other patients. The idea behind personalized packaging is to provide flexibility and ensure that the specific patient requirements are met, and, even more importantly, that the patient feels like they are receiving a truly individualized product. Packaging manufacturers are even seeking ways to create “smart,” tech-oriented packaging that would allow patients to directly communicate with their doctors.


Given that the APAC region is projected to experience the highest growth rate in the healthcare packaging market between 2016 and 2020, there is a great deal of change and innovation occurring. One major market trend is the emergence of flexible plastic packaging as a replacement for rigid plastic. The benefits of flexible plastic are numerous, and flexible plastic packaging allows companies to meet strict health guidelines, save money, and provide packaging that is far more aesthetically pleasing. Additionally, flexible plastic speaks to the growing sustainability concerns in the region.

Directly related to flexible plastic packaging is another key trend: tube packaging. The demand for tube packaging will continue to increase in the region as a result of urbanization and an increase in disposable income. Tube packaging includes squeeze tubes and laminated tubes, both of which are designed with sustainability and convenience in mind. Additionally, tube packaging is known for its excellent barrier properties, which can protect products during transport and help increase their shelf life.

North America

The North American healthcare market, most notably in the United States, is undergoing serious renovation. One major trend in the healthcare packaging market is the use of glass packaging. Glass packaging is beneficial in some ways: it is 100% recyclable, impermeable and has no chemical interaction with its contents, preventing changes in taste, smell, and chemical makeup. While it may be more of an investment when compared with plastic, glass packaging has long term value, and as healthcare facilities improve, the demand for this type of packaging will continue to increase.

Another important trend in this region is the outsourcing of pharmaceutical packaging, also known as contract packaging. Outsourcing is critical, as it reduces time to market and allows manufacturers to focus on in-house responsibilities and necessities. This trend is being fuelled by the reduction in overhead costs and increased flexibility and will continue into 2020. Further, outsourcing is the most effective way to keep up with the growing healthcare sector and the demand for pharmaceutical products; it would be nearly impossible for manufacturers to try to bear such a heavy burden in-house.

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