Corrugated Folding Carton

Digital Finishing Enhancements

The Paperboard Packaging Council (PPC) noticed several design trends during the judging of its annual North American Paperboard Packaging Competition. Manufacturers submit hundreds of folding cartons and rigid boxes into the competition each year. The 2018 competition saw a record number of digital entries and the judges agreed that the quality has skyrocketed. In many cases, it was hard to tell the difference between digital and traditional printing.

Additionally, 2018 was the first year where digital finishing enhancements, like those from Scodix, were popular.

Paperboard is often the first choice of substrate for luxury markets. Yet this year’s competition saw upscale printing and finishing effects even in everyday market sectors. For example, for the first time in the competition, the judges saw soft touch coating on a six-pack beer carton. Graphic Packaging International highlighted this trend with its Kellogg’s Extra Creations cereal box. The black, gable-top carton has overall matte varnish, spot high-gloss coating with embossing, and gold foil stamping. The nontraditional shape, colour and effects all work together to create an upscale feel that grabs consumers’ attention.

The competition featured cartons that not only branded and protected products, but also provided consumers additional value after purchase. WestRock submitted one such carton for Asahi beer. Not only is the design graphically unique for the beer segment, the structural design of the bottom tray enables the pack to display cans and hold ice. This allows consumers to keep their beer cans cold on the beach or wherever their adventure takes them.

Other interesting entries included a spooky, glowing Jägermeister carton designed to illuminate consumers’ Halloween parties; a rigid paperboard Ferris wheel that served as a showpiece for upscale cosmetics; and several packages that utilised augmented reality or allowed consumers to access virtual content with their smart phones.

The 2018 competition also had several folding cartons and rigid boxes designed for the cannabis industry. Some entries were quite strong in the branding aspect, featuring soft touch coating, foil stamping and spot UV. Other designs took it a step further by adding creative locking mechanisms made entirely from paperboard.

The top winners of the 2018 competition will be announced at PPC’s upcoming Fall Meeting, October 24-26 in Atlanta, Georgia. For more information, visit