EuroPack Summit 2019

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  • Packaging Accessibility for an Aging Population


    Dr Alaster Yoxall, a speaker at the marcus evans EuroPack Summit 2012, on designing packaging that is accessible by the elderly.

    Interview with: Dr Alaster Yoxall, Engineering Design Principal Research Fellow Art & Design Research Centre, Sheffield Hallam University


    Packaging accessibility is a serious problem today and is getting worse as demographics change, says Dr Alaster Yoxall, Engineering Design Principal Research Fellow Art & Design Research Centre, Sheffield Hallam University. Packaging sustainability and cost are important, but to support Europe’s aging population, packaging ease of use should move further up the agendas of packaging directors, he adds.

    A speaker at the marcus evans EuroPack Summit 2012 in Cannes, France, 17 - 18 September, Dr Yoxall discusses why the packaging industry must focus more on addressing the needs of the elderly.

    What are the key issues in the packaging space today?

    Sustainability and cost are key issues, however, we can see huge demographic changes in Europe, especially in Italy, Germany and Spain, and the aging populations in these countries will need better accessible packaging.

    This is the elephant in the room. It is happening and the packaging industry is not necessarily addressing it. Someone born today is likely to live to over 100 years. They also want to live independently. These people will want to purchase goods, a lot of which will be packaged, and we have evidence that accessibility is a problem in hospitals and communities today. I do not think that the industry has a good understanding of what is causing those issues.

    How do you try to identify and understand accessibility issues?

    We interview older people and look at what problems they face. With my background in mechanical engineering, I also measure people’s capabilities and what force or effort is put into opening packs. I try to match the two to understand what properties are preventing ease of use by older and disabled people. Also, we use motion capture technologies, reflective markers to track people’s motions in detail with infrared cameras, or high speed cameras with 5,000 to 10,000 frames per second.

    We always study people in detail. It is the detail that counts.

    What do people want from packaging?

    In 2004 the BBC coined the phrase “Pack Rage”, the idea of frustration with accessibility of packaging. What people want is ease of access, getting the contents out easily and safely, and having packaging made of cost-effective materials.

    There are tools to access packaging, which are fine to some degree, but when people misuse them, for example using a knife or screwdriver to open something instead of a pair of scissors, they can hurt themselves. We need to remove some of the frustration out of pack use so that people buy and use products safely.

    Do you have a final piece of advice?

    In the UK, 80 per cent of the wealth is owned by people over 50 and they will increasingly look for products that are designed with their capabilities in mind. Organisations cannot overlook their needs any more. People have been able to cope with poorly designed packaging so far, but this will become harder as the demographic changes are severe.

    Contact: Sarin Kouyoumdjian-Gurunlian, Press Manager, marcus evans, Summits Division

    Tel: + 357 22 849 313

    About the EuroPack Summit 2012

    This unique forum will take place at the Majestic Barrière Hotel, Cannes, France, 17 - 18 September 2012. Offering much more than any conference, seminar or trade show, this exclusive meeting will bring together esteemed industry packaging leaders and solution providers to a highly focused and interactive networking event. The Summit includes presentations on innovative packaging, reducing time to market and maximising sustainability.

    For more information please send an email to or visit the event website at

    marcus evans group - food/beverage sector portal

    Please note that the Summit is a closed business event and the number of participants strictly limited.

    About marcus evans Summits

    marcus evans Summits are high level business forums for the world’s leading decision-makers to meet, learn and discuss strategies and solutions. Held at exclusive locations around the world, these events provide attendees with a unique opportunity to individually tailor their schedules of keynote presentations, think tanks, seminars and one-to-one business meetings. For more information, please visit 


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