Packaging Trends for 2022

As we enter 2022, Herbert Walkers predicts the top five packaging trends for the year ahead.

  1. Seasonal and year-round gifting

As seasonal retail periods continue to get longer, deadlines for cards and product packaging will get earlier. Print companies will be tasked with delivering projects that stand out in terms of quality and finish while meeting these business-critical deadlines. At Herbert Walkers, our specialist capabilities in finishing mean we can be competitive on smaller runs for seasonal items. That said, we’ve also noticed that gifting has become a year-round phenomenon and consumer trends have led to increased sales of luxury options. This may have been accelerated by the pandemic, as people sent gifts to loved ones during periods of national lockdown. As the economy recovers, we anticipate this trend to grow, so there will be a need for packs that stand out on shelf and also have virtual shelf appeal for online channels.

  1. Packaging as a keepsake

Packaging not only protects and showcases the product; it is often an integral part of what the consumer is buying. In the gifting world, it can be kept, as a container for odds and ends, for example, or simply as a keepsake because it is decorative and has sentimental value. Again, the increased focus on sentimental value may have been driven somewhat by the pandemic and the prioritisation of showing our loved ones how much we care about them.

  1. Sustainability

Sustainability is still an increasingly important influence for both packaging and greetings cards; consumer demand for more eco-conscious products means that print and packaging companies like ours need to be proactive in suggesting solutions. Non-recyclable materials like flitter, which used to be a common feature on greetings cards, are now much less attractive. Instead, multi-dimensional, reflective finishes can be used to add depth and aesthetic appeal to products. We regularly use our foiling expertise and in-house die making capabilities to develop comparable effects by using recyclable foils. Every last scrap in the print room is gathered up and compressed into bails so that it can be collected for recycling.

  1. Interactive Packaging

Interactive packaging is likely to be another trend we see more of in 2022, as features like QR codes are used more widely. One of the benefits of this trend is that information usually included in packaging can be cut down, as customers can simply scan a code to access it online. In some cases, this has the additional benefit of also being more eco-friendly.

  1. UK-based supply chains

We’ve seen a lot of companies reverting to a UK-based supply chain during the pandemic, which has highlighted the risks of overseas production. Delays with the import of boards and foils from the EU, which happened frequently this year, may well settle down, but we suspect the trend away from overseas suppliers and toward more localised supply chains will continue.

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Bringing Greetings Card Experience into Focus for Premium Packaging Print

Packaging is much more than a practical means of containing a product: it’s an opportunity to articulate the brand, achieve stand-out on shelf and deliver memorable creativity. Here at Herbert Walkers, we are able to leverage 75 years of experience in creative print projects across a range of other sectors, including commercial and greetings cards, to bring eye-catching flair and innovative techniques to packaging projects.

With specialist knowledge and experience of luxury food and drink packaging, gifting and premiumisation of carton-based pack concepts, we know that packaging not only protects and showcases the product; it is often an integral part of what the consumer is buying. In the gifting world, the purchaser and the recipient may both perceive the box as something that might be kept, as a container for odds and ends, for example. Or it may simply be held on to as a keepsake because it is decorative and has sentimental value, in the same way as a favourite greetings card.  There is a clear synergy between the two sectors in consumer behaviour, so it should be not a surprise that there are also synergies in the way we approach the creative design and technical print possibilities.

Unlike greetings cards, however, premium packs not only have aesthetic appeal and sentimental value, they also connect the end user to the brand, so the brand values must be embedded in the design, the materials and the sustainability credentials of the pack. Even if the consumer intends to keep rather than recycle the pack, they will want to see that it is recyclable and brands are equally invested in ensuring that their packs are environmentally responsible because sustainability lies at the core of so many brand footprints.

This is an area where the innovation we have pioneered in the greetings card sector is transferrable to the packaging industry. In the past, flitter – a glitter finish – was commonly used as an attractive, premium design feature of greetings cards. But, as a non-recyclable material that compromised the recyclability of the entire product, it is no longer in vogue. However, our greetings cards customers wanted to continue creating designs with multi-dimensional, reflective finishes to add depth and aesthetic appeal to their products and we have used our foiling expertise and in-house die making capabilities to develop comparable effects using recyclable foils.

By combining an understanding of the print finishing techniques used to enable wide ranging creative possibilities in greetings cards, with a focus on the commercial considerations of printing packaging at scale, and the ethical drivers for improved sustainability, Herbert Walkers is able to bring expertise beyond conventional packaging thinking into the packaging world. Our approach is to work collaboratively with the client and their design team to understand what they aim to achieve from the pack and combine their creative goals and the level of premiumisation required with a practical, commercially-focused solution.

Whether the result is a premium brand favourite, a product designed for gifting or a seasonal pack that will sit shoulder to shoulder with the strong competition of peak shopping periods, applying knowledge from the greetings card sector gives us a country mile head start on keepsake-worthy finishes and how to achieve them.

As we continue to invest in new equipment and skills, the digital printing used to deliver short print runs of greetings cards is invaluable in providing rapid turnaround samples for packaging design options. And, of course, our foiling capabilities continue to grow to enhance the design possibilities we can cater to, along with throughput and capacity.

These days, the cards we buy are carefully selected and the ones we keep are equally carefully curated. Increasingly, the same can be said for the gifts we choose and the packs we keep. At Herbert Walkers, bringing our greetings card expertise into packaging print builds on those principles.

Investing in People with a New Generation of Trainees

Throughout our 75-year history, Herbert Walkers has always been an agile and forward-focused company, evolving our printing specialisms and commercial interests alongside emerging trends and advances in technology.

Having the right mix of experience and new talent on our team has always played a critical role in maintaining high quality standards while preparing for the future. It’s a principle that still drives our people strategy today, with five trainees currently on our team and the recruitment process in progress for a sixth.

Nurturing People In-house

“Investing in people is just as important as investing in new machinery,” explains managing director, Mike Lammas. “Not only do we require the right skills on the team, we also need people that embrace our culture of customer service and quality assurance and the best way to achieve that combination of knowledge, can-do attitude and attention to detail is to train and nurture people in house.”

Amongst the trainees currently on the Herbert Walkers team are Daniel in our in-house die-making department, Kieran in our cut and crease department, Martin in our greetings card finishing department, Ross in our folding and gluing department and Matthew in account management. We are also currently looking for a new trainee print assistant. All five of our trainees joined us following a rigorous interview process and, after an initial induction, they have been assigned a mentor and a training plan to ensure they gain the skills, knowledge and experience they need to progress in their careers.

“Nurturing our own skills and knowledge leverages the experience already within the business to ensure our investment in people becomes a continuous legacy,” Mike continues. “Our trainees are learning from people who know the job, the company and the customers inside out and all their colleagues encourage and support them to succeed.

“Training people in this way allows us to create opportunity for local people and to put succession planning at the heart of our skills strategy, ensuring knowledge is cumulative within the business, not lost when individuals retire.”

Attitude & Ability

The current cohort of trainees at Herbert Walkers are mostly in their early 20s but Martin is an exception, having joined the company as a trainee in his mid-30s.

“We’re not looking for a particular profile when we recruit trainees,” says Mike, “We’re looking for versatile individuals who want to learn, have a good attitude and are enthusiastic about the role.

“There is always the potential to progress within the company or move into a different department for members of the team who have the talent and ambition, but the main qualification is bringing to work a consistent commitment to doing a great job every day.”

Matthew Cross has never looked back since joining the Herbert Walkers team: “I’ve learned so much since I’ve been here,” he says, “and if I’m ever unsure about something, I know I can ask – in fact asking questions is actively encouraged.

“I really enjoy working for a company where I know my contribution is valued. It’s also great that I’m not the only trainee but part of a next generation of skilled employees who will continue to build on the company’s achievements.”

Can’t wait five more months for Christmas?

Well, never fear.

With so many of us feeling robbed of a “proper Christmas” last year, Christmas 2021 is popping up early in all sorts of places – whether that’s a Christmas in July movie binge on Netflix, nights out to make up for missed work parties, or a jump-start on gift-buying.

It’s never too early to start planning for Christmas, and by all accounts this Christmas is going to be BIG. That’s because families across the nation have stashed away record sums of disposable income over the lockdowns of the past year, leading analysts to predict a possible boom in spending following the end of pandemic restrictions.

Brands which aim to take advantage of post-pandemic spending sprees by launching seasonal products and packaging should be setting their wheels in motion now. But how can businesses be confident that the packaging they choose strikes the right chord this Christmas?

Let’s look at five packaging trends likely to appeal to customers during the Christmas 2021 season…


Putting your brand’s best foot forward this Christmas might mean stepping one foot into the past.

That’s because wistful or sentimental feelings about bygone days have been on the rise, mainly as a reaction to the upheaval and uncertainty of lockdowns. This brand of escapism, in which we yearn for the experiences of more comfortable times, is prompting us to reach for more of the music and films (and products) we have loved before.

In the world of packaging, this is translating into a rise in classic and vintage styles in several product categories, from cakes and confectionery to dog food to beauty. Traditional styles tend to perform strongly, as they can convey a rich heritage and sense of authenticity as well as communicate the presence of high quality ingredients and pure provenance.

At Christmas a traditional look and feel also helps to conjure up memories of family celebrations, while helping consumers to fulfil their wish to pass on the experiences of their youth to the next generation.


The current popularity of organic-inspired shapes and designs could stem from our renewed love of walking with nature, the rise of “biophilic” design or heightened public awareness around sustainability.

Whatever the reasons, earthy colour palettes and nature-inspired visual themes – from woodland creatures to raindrops – are everywhere. These can be combined with pops of vibrant colour or metallics to achieve an “elevated rustic” style, an American import currently popular in the world of interior design.

Styles that use eye-catching, Instagrammable patterns are also proving enduringly popular, particularly with younger consumers. Luckily, today’s packfronts offer more versatility and precision than ever before possible, so intricate patterns with beautiful consistency and colour integrity can be achieved with ease.


Many of today’s consumers share a focus on living “green”, and this has led to a growing number of brands working to update their packaging to reflect the trend. This could mean ‘designing out’ packaging elements which hinder recyclability, thus making kerb-side recycling quicker and easier for individuals and businesses.

Another way to boost your products’ green credentials is to make packaging reusable. According to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, reuse models bring wide-ranging benefits including “superior user experiences, user insights, brand loyalty, and cost savings”.

These benefits have motivated some brands, such as children’s clothier Monday’s Child to create packaging from recycled cardboard which can later be used as a doll’s house.

But products aimed at children are just the beginning. Cleaning and grocery products in particular are exploring reuse models such as in-store refill, which can be bolstered by incentivisation schemes. Meanwhile, at-home refill models, which often involve a higher investment into a more durable product initially, are an excellent option for the Christmas season. That’s because reusable bottles, particularly popular in the beauty sector, generally give a more luxurious and/or “timeless” appearance.

Smart Packaging

Digital technology is surging forward, and – albeit lagging behind somewhat – is our familiarity with and ability to use new platforms and apps.

In packaging design, advanced technologies such as browser-based app, image recognition, QR codes and invisible barcodes are being implemented on packfronts. Brands can harness these technologies to drive engagement with consumers. These technologies make possible an entirely new landscape of messaging and marketing – from social shopping, quizzes and games to personalised ads and even augmented reality.

Christmas offers and recipes can be accessible to end users via smart packaging, or customers can be helped to form a connection between an in-store selection of products to a wider range available online.

Limited Edition Artist-Inspired

Whether emulating the style of Pop art masters such as Andy Warhol, or commissioning up-and-coming prodigies of the art world to create original designs, one-off limited-edition artist-inspired packaging is a trend which has endured throughout the past year and we expect to see it continuing into the Christmas season. For a tremendous example of this see Kiehl’s yearly collaborations with artists the likes of Jeff Koons, Peter Max and Kate Moross. The designs marry ingenious design with a festive feel, for packaging that’s both joyful and memorable.

After all, Christmas is the perfect time to let creativity run wild – and to attract new customers to your brand with festive, characterful packaging.

Let’s face it, after the challenges of the past year we all “need a little Christmas”, and with the right packaging, your business may be celebrating long after the gift-giving is done and dusted.

Every day’s a school day

Many thanks to Johanna and Tony from Billerudkorsnas for bringing their cartonboard school roadshow to Herbert Walkers today.

New for some and a refresher for others but nonetheless interesting and informative for all.


More Commitment to Recycling

Herbert Walkers have joined the BPIF Packaging to Recycling scheme illustrating our commitment to recycling and the promotion of sustainable cartonboard packaging.

No More Foil to Landfill!

Herbert Walkers are delighted to announce that we have achieved zero foil to landfill status for all of our foil waste.  The scheme is sponsored by the BPIF and managed by our partners Prismm Environmental and ensures that all of our foil waste that previously went to landfill is now recycled for energy production.

Packaging Innovations 2018

Herbert Walkers once again showcased their luxury packaging range at Packaging Innovations 2018. With plenty of samples of BRC food-grade packaging, foiled and embossed boxes for luxury brands alongside many other samples of cosmetics and confectionery packaging.

Andy Christie, Sales Director commented, “Visitors are always looking for innovative ways to package their products so our range of special finishes were once again a hit at the show. They were keen to learn about the in-house special finishes we offer, in particular foiling, embossing and print over foil. Retail packaging nowadays has to be practical but have real shelf appeal and we are one of the few UK providers who have the ability to control the whole process in house.

Hotel Chocolat renews packaging contract

Hotel Chocolat has renewed the contract with Herbert Walkers Ltd, to produce their core packaging for the next two years. Herbert Walkers will be producing packaging for the popular Sleekster cartons and the H Box range.

These two formats are available all year round and are also used for seasonal products. Herbert Walkers is ideally suited to producing high volume premium packaging requiring special finishes having an extensive print and in-house finishing operation. This in-house capability means that Herbert Walkers control the whole production process from design to shelf. The process is therefore quicker (than involving several suppliers) and is more flexible.

But why Herbert Walkers Ltd?

Andy Christie, Sales Director at Herbert Walkers explains why they are a good choice for high end retailers looking to differentiate their product lines. “Regarding in-house finishing we have more expertise, superior capabilities and greater capacity compared to any other packaging company in the UK. This means we can push the boundaries with embossing and foiling and produce some outstanding finishes for our clients’ packaging – enhancing their brand presence and making them stand out on the shelf”.

“Our extensive in-house capability is attractive to clients who want to trial new ideas. We regularly hold Innovation Days for clients to make use of our in-house die making facility.”

The Sleekster and H Box products are available at Hotel Chocolat stores throughout the UK and can also be bought on line at

Contact us for more information on Herbert Walker Innovation Days or read about our excellent range services Here .