Amid predictions that 2019 is set to be a challenging time for many UK businesses, leading packaging solutions supplier Antalis has revealed that improving the impact that packaging and packing are having on warehouse operations and transport logistics, whilst adopting eco-friendly solutions will be the key trends in the year ahead.

It comes as recent research shows that labour shortages and the lack of skills availability in many industries including manufacturing, e-commerce and food will escalate as the number of EU nationals entering employment continues to fall dramatically in the coming year 1. Meanwhile, the Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply (CIPS) has warned that expected customs delays at the border could have a significant impact on UK companies and their supply chain after one in 10 businesses admitted they could collapse due to customs delays of only 10-30 minutes2.

As such, the main priority for businesses should be to review their current packaging and processes to identify improvements that will help alleviate these pressures and reduce the true cost of packaging. One such area is considering mechanisation and automation that can streamline potentially costly manual processes.

Meanwhile, reviewing postal or transport operations and the packaging solutions used for these will be key to preventing potential issues in-land and at the border, says Andrew Smedleyhead of e-commerce and logistical packaging at Antalis Packaging.

He states: “As we look to the year ahead, UK businesses will be grappling with a number of challenges not least how to deal with ongoing labour shortages in packing, distribution and delivery – which unless tackled head on will no doubt increase cost and crucial lead times on orders.

“With a raft of packaging machinery now available, our advice is to look at how these solutions – including simple in-line automation with case erectors as well as end-of-line pallet wrappers which maximise films can save money whilst being consistent. In our experience, customers have increased packing speeds by 60% or more after introducing the right machines, giving them the correct level of automation required to make improvements holistically that look beyond cost.

“Another pressing issue is how to plan for expected customs delays at the border when sourcing or delivering goods from abroad. This requires a review of existing logistics and supply chain packaging. Investing in an automated box-sizing machine is one way not only to eliminate the need for void-fill and save on valuable warehouse and container space but it also means more boxes can fit on a pallet and subsequently the lorry – ensuring each delivery is operating at maximum efficiency.”

At the same time, with 2019 likely to see the UK’s major supermarkets and top brands invest heavily in more environmentally friendly packaging, demand for sustainable and easy to recycle solutions is set to drive further development of innovative packaging products. In recent months, Antalis unveiled the WrapPak® Protector, a pioneering new paper-based thermal packaging solution for chilled and frozen foods.

Andrew adds: “An on-going major challenge for the new year, particularly in the food and e-commerce sectors, will be identifying eco-friendly packaging solutions that can maintain the highest standards of protection when goods are transported through the supply chain while also being practical and cost effective.

“Businesses and suppliers alike will find that innovation and bespoke packaging will be key to meeting the brief and we expect to see a greater selection of eco-friendly products, solutions and services coming to market. However, our advice has always been to cut out excess process and packaging where necessary, understanding your true cost to pack before just jumping into anything”

“Those looking to kick-start the year on the front foot, working with a trusted expert like Antalis via our Smart Packaging Centre means customers can visit and explore first-hand innovative ways to pack products, test out the latest machinery and sit down with our designers to create live samples in just a few hours.”

To find out more about the Smart Packaging Centre, go to or call one of the Antalis Packaging experts on 0370 241 1466.