“Rethinking supply chains after Covid19: what new packaging requirements?”


  • Philipp Bernd
  • Fulconis François


  • Covid19
  • Packaging logistics
  • Supply chains
  • Logistics functions of packaging
  • Shoppers

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Recent academic and professional studies have started to examine priorities within the tension area standardization vs. customization regarding packaging solutions within supply chains, both from a supply and a demand perspective (Bemis Company, 2016; BillerudKorsnäs, 2018; Highland, 2018; Fulconis and Philipp, 2019; Smith-Forbes Insights, 2018). The world has changed since; the current corona pandemic strongly affects the configuration and nature of supply chains: international versus domestic ones, supplier dependence versus (country) sovereignty etc. Packaging as a key element of logistics processes with both operational and strategic impacts on supply chains is at the very heart of this trend. Traditionally, the packaging choice between standardization and customization had been influenced by globalization, circular economy and omnichannel requirements (Philipp and Fulconis, 2020). However, since covid19 cards will have to be re-shuffled, as novel requirements for both supply chain members and targets (i.e. shoppers) superimpose with more traditional considerations, increasing once more complexity that packaging players were already familiar with. Novel pandemic-induced packaging requirements stem from changed customer expectations and behaviours regarding hygiene and safety (substrates that minimize the possibility of the virus’s survival on the packaging surface...) as well as from substantial changes of our supply and/or packaging chains (endogenous level) and their operating contexts (exogenous level). Vis-à-vis this area of tension, supply chains have to be reassessed, and a new equilibrium for packaging solutions seems inevitable. E-commerce and related e-supply chains have known a significant sales increase during the crisis for numerous product categories (Deloitte, 2020), justifying a comparative approach with traditional channels. Our paper contributes to orient supply chain actors regarding their packaging choice in this new era of business.

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