Changing retailer demands, eating habits, demographics, regulations and sustainability efforts are common themes in packaging, but they’re especially apparent among bakery and snack product manufacturers. “Bakery and Snacks–Market Assessment 2012,” released this month by Packaging Machinery Manufacturers Institute (PMMI), a Reston, Va.-based trade association and organizer of the PACK EXPO trade shows, details the effects of these trends for original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) as well as their customers. Below are some of the trends discussed in the report:

Growth patterns parallel demographic shifts

As reported in PMMI’s “Global Packaging Trends–Global Growth Markets for Packaging” (July 2012), world population growth is shifting to so-called emerging markets, such as the Asia Pacific region.

The Bakery and Snacks market report notes bakery and snack products manufacturers will see that growth in action, with 4% growth predicted in U.S. sales of packaged snacks through 2015, but 7% annual growth to $334 billion in global sales of snack foods in the same period. Globally, bakery product sales are expected to increase 4.5% annually, to $410 billion by 2015.

“Globally, regions such as Asia Pacific, Latin America and India are presenting the best scenarios for future growth for snacks and bakery products,” says Paula Feldman, director of business intelligence, PMMI. “Our global packaging report noted that by 2015, world population growth will spring largely from the Asia Pacific region, which is expected to see a 160 billion-person increase in that time.”

Today, the United States is the world’s largest market for snacks, while European markets top the list for baked goods sales. And while 62% of the snack food companies surveyed for this market assessment see Asia Pacific markets as the source of the largest fraction of their sales growth, only 20% of bakery companies share that experience.

Custom packaging is standard

Historically, changes in consumer eating habits have driven new product development. In 2012, the driving force has shifted to the retailer; many large merchants have their own specifications for the products they carry, Feldman notes.

“In the bakery and snack foods arenas, retailers are specifying package sizes, multipacks and variety packs to optimize shelf space, and they’re asking for retail-ready packaging for high-traffic areas,” she says. “Convenience and drugstores also have their own sets of requirements and more than a quarter (26%) of respondents are developing packaging accordingly.”

Even dollar stores are making a difference: 2% of participants are distributing to dollar stores (and expect that part of their business to grow), and those venues are requesting smaller portions that they can sell for $1.

Retailer demands were cited by 42% of respondents as the main driver for changes to primary packaging, and 50% said they’re implementing changes in their processing and packaging operations to accommodate retailers’ requirements.

Equipping manufacturers to meet customer demands

To accommodate the multitudinous change agents in the bakery and snack product marketplace, manufacturers are turning to packaging machinery OEMs.

“Their requests fall into three categories: functionality, support and integration,” Feldman says. “The OEM that wants to meet those needs will do best to build a relationship with the manufacturer and collaborate in the design process.”

This type of partnering will help OEMs better understand needs for machine cleanliness and sanitation, the features and functionality, and automation.

“Today’s baking and snack foods manufacturers want machines that can be flexible and run a variety of sizes, materials and packages, and that are easier to clean and operate, ergonomically designed and reliable,” Feldman says. “They need OEMs to clearly communicate recommended cleaning schedules and to provide knowledgeable technical support. That’s in addition to integrated lines, remote connectivity and the like!”

To purchase a copy of “Bakery and Snacks–Market Assessment,” visit