Traditionally, a lot of milk and allied products were packed in pouches and many continue to do so. However, pouches as a packaging medium have been susceptible to counterfeiting and breakage plus spilling during transportation. In December of 2017, the Bhubaneshwar police raided a godown and busted a fake ghee manufacturing unit. Similar reports emerged from other parts of India like Rajkot, among others. Whereas, the breakage involved in pouches can be estimated around 10-15% and can lead to safety issues.
Considering all these issues that surround pouches, it has prompted dairy players to move to other packaging materials like PET bottles. The players are constantly looking out to replace pouches with quality, sustainable and attractive packaging for their premium range products. And slowly, PET has become a popular choice for packaging as it is highly convenient, easy to transport and safe.
When Parag Milk Foods wanted to re-brand and introduce a new PET packaging for their premium cow ghee brand, Gowardhan Ghee, the firm collaborated with Manjushree Technopack. Parag wanted to switch to PET from pouches for packaging their ghee.
The main objectives of the product development programme were to develop a container that would be user-friendly, easy to store and transport. Manjushree worked with Parag to switch from pouches to PET for the first time. "Ghee has an emotional value in Indian culture and is usually associated with festivities. We had to design the container that would evoke a sense of purity and quality that Gowardhan ghee stands for," explains Vimal Kedia, managing director, Manjushree Technopack.
After extensive research on resourcing, speed-to-market, materials selection and testing, Manjushree zeroed in on the metrics for the product: The bottle had to be transparent, un-breakable and cost friendly. "The Gowardhan Ghee ticks all our checkpoints," says Kedia.
Dairy players are slowly moving towards PET. While flavoured milk is being packed in PET bottles, value-added products are still seeing a slower rate of adoption. Explaining the shift towards PET, Kedia explains, "The benefits of packing ghee among other dairy products in PET are not lost on brands. A few reasons for the shift are: PET bottles are non-breakable and provide ease of operations. PET bottles are extremely safe and easy to handle especially in high-speed lines. PET being shatterproof reduces the line wastages and transit damages to almost negligible levels. Plus, PET lends itself to a great designing possibility.
For the Gowardhan Ghee jar, Manjushree has used Polypropylene (PP) for the cap as it provides good impact strength, durability, cost-effectiveness, thermal resistance, and pliability.
The jar design was conceived at Manjushree's in-house design studio. Gowardhan ghee’s container is a uniquely shaped transparent jar that provides a clear view of the packaged ghee. "The bottle had to stand out on shelves and catch the eyes of consumers. We decided to give the bottle a unique shape that would catch the curiosity of the onlooker. The shape of the bottle also makes it very easy to hold. As the shape is unique, we incorporated rib structure to provide strength to the container," says Kedia.
The container and the yellow coloured cap are made of 100% food grade plastic material. The resultant container was a lightweight jar which was safe and hygienic to store ghee. Manjushree worked with Parag to develop containers of 200ml, 500ml, and 1000ml in size.
The important advantage in shifting to PET for Parag has been the reduction in the cost of the bottle, which according to Kedia is almost by 30-40% when compared to glass. He says, "It is much economical and easier to transport PET bottles."
The breakage and pilferages of pouches can be unhygienic and hazardous if it is contaminated. This, in turn, can hurt a brand image. "The PET bottles form a safe and sturdy material for packaging. Apart from avoiding the chances of leakage during transport, there will be cost-savings in freight due as it is only one-tenth in weight when compared to glass bottles."
To produce the jar, integrated Injection Stretch Blow Moulding (ISBM) Technology was deployed to produce quality and high clarity PET jar, which according to Kedia "conserves energy and raw materials".
Explaining the technology, Kedia says, "This process is generally used for extremely high volume (multi-million) runs of items such as wide-mouth jars and narrow mouth bottles. Aligning with our motto of promoting sustainability through eco-design, we used the ISBM process."
For the cap, Manjushree incorporated Injection Moulding (IM) Technology.
"Both ISBM and IM technologies are advanced and expensive, but both contribute to reducing cost and conserving energy during production," informs Kedia.
Intelligent use of plastics and way forward
Plastics today is most widely used (42%) in packaging with the combination of rigid and flexible plastics in packaging. Hence, it is increasingly important for brands to look at a way to recycle the packaging waste generated by them. Plus, with the National Green Tribunal's deadline for banning multi-family plastic laminates approaches, it will be interesting to see the adoption of recyclable packaging materials, like what Gowardhan Ghee has opted for.