By Tom Egan, vice president, industry services, PMMI
The legal cannabis market will be worth more than 23 billion USD by 2025, according to a report by New Frontier Data. Growing alongside the legal marijuana industry in the United States is producers’ interest and investment in packaging and processing solutions to meet the challenges of this burgeoning sector.
In addition to the usual hurdles associated with growing a business within a young product category, cannabis producers must also navigate stringent regulations on packaging, meet consumer demand for sustainable options and secure suppliers amid fears surrounding the industry’s volatility. It’s a tall order, but far from impossible with the next generation of packaging and processing technologies available.
1. Child-proof packaging
Like the pharmaceutical industry before it, the cannabis industry must adopt packaging that can meet different formats while addressing accessibility regulations. Child-proof packaging is a major focus, and companies are experimenting with solutions like containers that have web-enabled combination locks connected to physician’s offices.
2. Inspection equipment
Companies are also looking for machinery that automates manual cultivation and inspection equipment that detects and eliminates contaminants during harvest. Testing, which generally takes place during harvesting, is required at multiple stages of processing to determine the level of THC in the product. Better, faster CO2 extraction equipment is also in demand for processing cannabis concentrates.
3. Diverse formats
According to the 2017 whitepaper Here to Stay or Up in Smoke, produced by PMMI, The Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies, consumer preferences are shifting from cannabis as a flower or bud towards more processed formats including oils, edibles and topical products. Cannabis companies are reaching for heat-proof borosilicate glass containers, polystyrene containers and BPA-free acrylic containers for packaging oils and waxes. Edibles require sealed tube jars, single-use bags using food-grade films and resealable, smell-proof bags.
4. Digital printing
Cannabis’ ever-changing legal status means that producers must be ready to quickly adapt to new labeling requirements. Digital printing solutions allow companies to design and easily customized a label template to print unique product information, while keeping branding consistent. With this technology, producers can avoid overprinting, thus reducing waste and cost.
Cannabis producers can find the latest technologies and innovations in packaging, labeling, inspection equipment and track and trace at Healthcare Packaging EXPO co-located with PACK EXPO Las Vegas 2019 (Sept. 23–25; Las Vegas Convention Center).
About Tom Egan
Tom Egan serves as the vice president of Industry Services for PMMI, the Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies. He joined the PMMI staff in 2003 following more than 20 years in the packaging industry during which he was also an active PMMI member. His previous work experience includes tenures at Eaton Corp. and as Vice President, Marketing & Sales, for Hoppmann Corporation. He has an MBA from Baldwin-Wallace College, and a BEE in Electrical Engineering from Villanova University.