Experts rally behind London Packaging Week Innovation Awards

Blink and you’ll miss a new game-changing packaging innovation go by – that’s why shows like London Packaging Week are now must-sees for any business looking to keep up.

The packaging industry is committed to a course of real, substantive change. That commitment provides tangible results that we can see evolving at our packaging trade shows throughout the year. Never before has packaging innovation been such a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it concept – and it’s made shows like London Packaging Week and awards like the London Packaging Week Innovation Awards more important than ever.

Few industries must go through the sort of changes we’ve seen in the packaging industry over the past few years. At Easyfairs, we have a front-row seat to this change as the years fly by. It gives us a unique insight into what that change is affecting, what is driving it, and how quickly it’s taking place.

Innovation has never been more important. Five years ago, our show floors looked very different from how they look today. Whether it’s tightening legislation, the needs of today’s consumers, or delivering a brighter future for our planet, the packaging industry has intuitively understood the need to innovate.

Always motivated by the need to inspire the next big idea and to encourage advancements in sustainability and performance across four industry sectors, the LPW Innovation Awards have been designed to promote advancements in sustainability and performance across four industry sectors. Ingenious up-and-comers and well-established brands will compete for their most innovative commercialised packs to be judged by expert juries.

Hot on the heels of back-to-back record-breaking editions of both Paris Packaging Week, where 32 awards and 19 certificates were issued to winners of the prestigious PCD, PLD & ADF Innovation Awards, and Packaging Innovations in Birmingham, Christelle Anya, the driving force behind the Paris Packaging Week Awards believes there is a clear gap in the market for a London iteration.

“We already have awards like these at the Paris Show, and those started around 18 years ago,” she said. “We want brands to be involved in the show, and that’s why we work so hard to create a community. The initial concept was to highlight the grey matter behind products. Those who work in research and development often operate behind the scenes, but their efforts are crucial to progress and innovation. This event is an opportunity to celebrate the collective efforts.

“It has worked pretty well. Every year, we have more products and entries from brands that want to celebrate with their suppliers. It has been like building an occasion where the whole team behind a product can celebrate together.

“The awards in Paris are international, but we realised we don’t get many applications from the UK market, and it seems obvious that we should launch something dedicated to the UK market.

“We’re focusing on the technical side. For Paris, we have a lot of jury members with engineering backgrounds, and it’s interesting to see how they analyse the products they would judge. That’s really what we are looking for. New technology. New materials. User experience, ease of use and inclusive packaging. It’s really innovation focused.”

Over the next three months, companies will be able to apply for their innovative products to be judged by a dedicated jury comprising some of the leading lights in the world of packaging design and innovation and representatives of some of the biggest global brands. The jury will search for packaging creations that challenge the accepted limits of what is possible, showcase new technologies or techniques, and inspire the next generation.

From transformative, technical, or process-driven innovations linked to the consumer experience to emotional connections and eco-credentials, winners will receive their awards on the second and final day of London Packaging Week 2024.

Judges include Michael Carroll, Senior Packaging Specialist at Nestlé; Jim Bligh, Corporate & Public Affairs Director & Communications Leader at The Food and Drink Federation; Tanguy Pellen, Partner at Skarbek; Cain Hayward-Hughes, Senior Global Creative Manager – Prestige at Beam Suntory; Chris Allinson, Group Packaging Leader at PZ Cussons; Alfredo Ruiz Pose, Head of Purchasing at Glenmorangie; Saul Johnstone, Senior Direct Procurement Manager at Bacardi; Lisa Meade, Head Of Structural Packaging at Kingfisher, and packaging expert Raphael Ferri.

Joining Anya as Co-chair will be ThePackHub Founder and renowned packaging expert Paul Jenkins. With over 30 years of experience in the packaging industry, nobody is better placed than Jenkins, who spearheads a leading packaging innovation consultancy that works with brand owners, retailers, and packaging suppliers worldwide.

“I’m very passionate about packaging and packaging innovations,” he said. “I’m always very keen to get involved, so when Easyfairs asked me to be Co-Chair, I jumped at the opportunity. I really enjoy the whole process. I like to see all of the entries, not just the ones that get to the final. Every single one has some merit. If a company has spent time and effort putting an entry together, it deserves my time to see what’s behind it. Not all entries are worthy of winning, but you can still see the seed of a good idea there.”

From K-Round’s fully compostable coffee pods made with plant-based natural materials and Upfield’s plastic-free, oil-resistant paper tub for Flora to a new 90% recyclable Pringles tube that swaps the former steel base for a paper one, Jenkins believes awards like the LPW Innovation Awards will be the catalyst towards unleashing more creativity.

“It’s about encouraging people to celebrate the projects they’re working on,” he added. “Even if you don’t win but get recognised or commended, that is still a big achievement for a national award.

“Businesses spend so much time developing packaging that they release their product into the world, and that’s it. But it’s nice for the team members who may not get the acknowledgement in other ways to have their day in the limelight. These awards recognise the whole team, not just the senior manager. Packaging development is a team sport and opportunities for people to celebrate their hard work together are too few.

“If you win this award, you’ve got a host of expert judges who know what they’re doing; it really is a sign that you’re doing things right.”

London Packaging Week, which will take place on 11 & 12 September, attracted 4,500+ visitors and 190 exhibitors to the ExCeL in 2023. Organisers are again anticipating huge demand, with hundreds of the world’s biggest suppliers and thousands of designers, packaging developers, marketers, founders and buyers relying on the annual event to drive innovation and creativity.

“It’s about the brands coming with their suppliers and inviting the whole team that worked on the project to come together at the event,” added Anya. “So far, people are receptive, we have 29 entries, and that’s really good. From my experience of organising the awards in Paris for over a decade, it’s a fantastic start. We have around 80 draft entries, too, and there’s a while to go, so the competition will be fierce.”

Those initial entries already include submissions from big-name brands such as Coca-Cola Company, The British Snack Co, Charlotte Tilbury, Dalmore (Beam Suntory), Dalmore (Whyte & Mackay).

Prospective entrants must meet a minimum of one of four key criteria to enter: (Innovation) Technology Game-Changer, (Design) British Design & Craftsmanship, Consumer experience (British Experiential Quality), or Sustainability Impact (Environment Game-Changer).

From transformative, technical or process-driven innovations linked to the consumer experience to emotional connections and eco-credentials, winners will receive their awards on the second and final day of London Packaging Week 2024.

“One of the reasons I enjoy attending London Packaging Week as a business owner is to meet brand owners face to face and not just on a Zoom call,” said Jenkins. “These awards and other initiatives like them will only do an even better job of attracting more people like them. For me and the exhibitors, it just makes it even more likely that I’ll bump into the right sort of target customers I want to meet with.

“Winning this award could be the catalyst for complete success. So, we shouldn’t understate how important winning a national award is.”

Products should be distributed in the UK market between May 25, 2023, and May 24, 2024, and a full breakdown of the qualifying criteria and all other guidance on submitting an entry can be found here.

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