The Flexible Packaging Association (FPA) has conducted an annual Flexible Packaging Achievement Awards Competition since 1956 to showcase the industry’s innovation and the advances that have changed packaging. The competition is among the most respected in the industry, thanks to the outstanding caliber of packaging entries, the objective and methodical judging process, and the extensive media coverage of the competition winners. Its focus on new technologies, processes, printing techniques, and sustainability of flexible packaging places the achievement awards program in a class by itself.
For the competition, the package entries can be entered into six categories: expanding the use of flexible packaging, technical innovation, printing, shelf impact, packaging excellence, and sustainability. These attributes are what differentiate flexible packaging from other packaging formats to provide extraordinary solutions.
All entries are judged by an independent panel of experts. Gold and silver awards are given in each competition category and the Highest Achievement Award is given to a gold-award winner ranked by the judges as having contributed most to the advancement of the industry. The judges for this year’s competition were:
• Martin Golden, MHGolden Packaging, Packaging Engineering & Development Consulting and adjunct professor, Rutgers University Packaging Program
• Brian Ludwick, vice president, publisher, and brand director, Packaging Impressions
• Jim Peters, a marketing communications consultant who focuses on the packaging industry and principal author of the book, Creating Value Through Packaging
Shelf impact and the focus on the user experience for packaging are seen as increasing trends. “One of the things that were a big part of my consulting practice was shelf impact, and I realize that today, the thinking goes beyond just the shelf,” Peters notes. “So, I started using the term ‘point of perception.’ If you get into the medical field, if you get into the industrial field—it’s not just the packages on the shelf—but how does it help the end-user at the point when they first perceive the package. For example, color coding in medical packaging is a way to enhance patient safety.”
According to Ludwick, “Shelf appeal is extremely important and where the product/package really engages with the consumer. It is the first and last contact that product and that brand—and all the work they’ve done previously to build that brand—comes in contact and engages with the consumer. So that is a critical point. A lot of that has to do with not just color and graphics or printing, but also structure and functionality.”
Golden says, “Shelf presence today is extremely import-ant—how that package looks on the shelf, what attracts the consumer and the consumer’s eyes to interact with the package. Graphics are a vital part of the messaging from a marketing perspective, and also QR codes, so the customer interacts with the package.”
“All of these are important elements for packaging in the future, whether it’s a retail, e-commerce, or even a club store environment,” he adds. “The packaging is the silent salesperson. However, it’s not silent anymore with the interactability of the consumer to the package.”
Technical innovation and sustainability continue to be a focus of the competition.
“The sustainability aspect was an outstanding area to focus on amongst our discussions and review of the entries,” Golden says. “It led to several excellent thought discussions on what was presented by the entries and how that floated into technical innovations.”
Peters notes how the sustainability aspect permeated so many of the entries. “What I particularly liked is the way it was a total process—looking from the technical angle all the way to how it is used in its final use environment to be sustainable,” he says.
The printing quality of the entries this year was also remarked on by the judges. “Printing was a critical category for this year’s competition for the vast majority of the entries that we reviewed, and it was fantastic,” Ludwick notes. “The printing quality, the graphics, the use of colors, and the matte and gloss combinations were just outstanding.”
For this year’s competition, FPA received a historic number of entries—100 packages were submitted for the competition, with a total of 324 entries (some packages were entered into multiple categories). The winners of the 2022 competition will be announced at the upcoming FPA Annual Meeting on March 23 at the Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort and Spa in Bonita Springs, Florida.
Dani Diehlmann is FPA vice president, communications.