New research from Industrial Physics, a packaging and material test and measurement provider, has revealed the extent of innovation within the food and beverage packaging industry and how it is impacted by internal operations.

Last year, Industrial Physics found that there is a desire for innovation, with 96% of packaging professionals in food and beverage expressing that new developments in packaging were important, and with 71% believing it was very important. However, this year’s data highlights that in reality, less than a quarter (24%) of organizations are currently taking an innovative approach.

The international survey of packaging professionals operating in the food and beverage packaging sector found that more than 1 in 5 (22%) packaging professionals said that their company does not usually follow up on the innovative ideas it comes up with, and half of respondents (49%) said that too many teams are involved in the innovation process, which slows them down.

The report also found that 35% of packaging professionals using organic material said that they didn’t feel they had the appropriate expertise to facilitate growth and innovation in their business.

As Steve Davis, global director of product management at Industrial Physics explains in the report, there is limited capacity for innovation despite the desire for it: “Overall the mechanisms, the capacity and the direction aren’t quite there yet. Packaging companies understand the significant resource and investment required for the majority of innovation opportunities, therefore the decision to go ahead is not a quick or an easy one.”

When respondents were asked how their business had fared over the past five years, almost half (47%) said their company has had to make layoffs. This is more likely to be the case with U.S.-based respondents at 58%, compared with an average of 44% in Europe and 45% in Asia. The proportion of those making layoffs varies between material type – the highest being those working with paper (62%).

Davis adds: “Many companies within the packaging sector have been operating for decades and currently do not have the capacity to pursue innovative ideas whilst maintaining their regular manufacturing output which already satisfies a consistent demand. We’re noticing that companies who want to pursue innovation are running into internal barriers. In a period where budgets are extremely tight and layoffs are being made, unless a company can guarantee the ROI, there simply isn’t enough justification to assign resource to innovation.”

Davis concludes: “Our report highlights that pursuing opportunities in innovation is not as straightforward as it seems. With continued turbulence and both internal and external factors contributing to uncertainty, organizations need more support than ever to remain resilient and assess opportunities for innovation in packaging without compromising on the quality or safety of their products.

“With 41% saying their company is planning to take an innovative approach in the next three years, companies should start planning ahead and assessing their internal operations to make careful, considered decisions about how they’re going to pursue innovation, as these changes cannot be made overnight.”