Keep innovating

India ranks fifth in the packaged food industry globally with a worth of USD 39.7 billion and is expected to reach USD 65.41 billion by 2020. In all this there is the shocking story that the amount of food India wastes annually is enough to feed a country like Egypt for one year. Therefore the moot question, how can packaging help the food and beverage industry.

22 Jun 2018 | By Ramu Ramanathan

The sixth edition of UBM’s InnoPack F&B conference discussed this. More than 200 professionals attend the two day event which saw Palanixchamy Muthumaran of Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) talk about packaging trends for food and beverage industry plus participation from food scientists and food brands who examined regulatory expectations in F&B Packaging (FSSAI, FDA & EMEA), protecting environment by adopting sustainable packaging, maintaining food safety, security and quality through right way of packaging, recent innovations in F&B packaging, methods of plastic waste management in F&B packaging, etc.

The sessions included interesting take-aways. For example, Shashi Mishra, vice president R&D, Rich Graviss Products saying, "Former Kerala Chief Minister of Kerala Oommen Chandi mentioned how only one product (Boomer) outlived Congress ruling. The price is Rs 1/- since the launch and has not been increased till date." Mishra asked how did they do it? And then he provided a break-up of how primary packaging is 60% of the total packaging cost, and the secondary pack is 25% and tertiary packing is 15%. The Boomer team used one U-liner sheet instead of four card board sheets in the primary packing to provide better strength at a reduced cost. Keep innovating, he added. This was the theme of the conference.

Four highlights from the UBM conference at WestIn, Mumbai 

Highlight 1 # Effective Supply-Chain Management in F&B packaging

Bhupinder Kumar from General Mills

The main thrust of Bhupinder Kumar from General Mills was anti-counterfeiting, he said, counterfeit food threats are becoming more common as supply chains become more global. Today the food counterfeit market is expected to reach USD 62.5 bn globally by 2020. Of which, the Asia Pacific region is projected to be the fastest growing area, with an estimated CAGR of 18.1% from 2015 to 2020. Therefore, he said, effective supply chain requires a technical approach to solve counterfeiting.

Today, the types of counterfeiting methods are: adulterator, tamper, theft, over-runs, simulation or look-a-likes and counterfeits.

The methods to monitor are: overt and covert, forensic, track-and-trace, authentication, investigation, regulation. 

Track-and-trace entails RIFD, barcode, tags, labels, holograms, smart technology. In addition there is, tamper-evident, closures, special inks nanomaterials, readers, printers, recognition equipment and software solutions. And finally, there is, UIN – Unique identification Number; mass serialisation whereby all sealable units have a number; and digital mass encryptions.

Highlight 2 # Need for Luxury Sustainable Packaging

Sumanta Singha from Diageo

Sumanta Singha from Diageo says, packaging helps prevent food and product wastage and in clear and succinct messaging; and creating packs that are delivery friendly pack and eCommerce ready. He highlighted three trends in lieu of the belief that many people believe that packaging is a major environmental problem. He added, "Ten times more resources – material, energy and water is used to make and distribute food than are used to make the packaging to protect it"

The three trends according to Sumanta Singha which prevail are: MAP - modified atmosphere packaging and oxygen scavengers, to extend the shelf life of foods; packaging which is more sustainable, fit for purpose in terms of protecting, preserving and presenting food at high standards; and move to product/packaging portioning that caters to changing consumption patterns and smaller households. 

Through interesting case-studies, he looked at opportunities in designing sustainable packaging. Especially a growing need for luxury packaging for premium spirits. Singha said, When eggs can be differentiated with packaging, why not spirits which has so much in it like - age of maturation, Flavours, history and heritage, quality, way it is made and the place it is made. The practical solutions he offered were: 100% recyclable security closure, labels without PET, use of recycled paper (perhaps bottles made of paperboard), and no plastic layers.

Highlight 3 # Smart Innovation in Packaging

Sharanya Bhatt from Trigon

Sharanya Bhatt's presentation focused on the gap between design creativity and print technicalities. With units in Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru and UAE plus an office in Singapore, Trigon Digital Solutions serves 350+ brands each year which includes twenty of the top 100. 

Today Trigon is a registered supplier for international brands and helps them with pre-press and repro work, new packaging structure development, 3-D modelling with product prototyping, 3-D and 2-D visualisation, mock-ups and market research requirements for global brands in more than dozen countries. 

Trigon has ensured similar infrastructure and technology in all its units, whereby it can support packaging segments like cartons, flexible, laminates, shrink sleeves and labels.

These days the focus is, getting personal with an e‐Commerce site for consumers to aim to purchase a personalised product for any occasion. Plus Variable Data Printing – VD QR Codes/unique numbering – security features for anti-counterfeit solutions. 

Trigon aims to produce mock ups on the actual substrate within 24 to 48 hours. Thanks to a HP Indigo digital press, it's short run capability is from hundred to thousand with two days for 2000 units of shrink sleeves (8-colour).

Trigon Digital Solutions is a PrintWeek India Award Winner in 2013 and 2017.

Highlight 4 # Innovation in Flexible Packaging 

Shailesh Nema of Michelman India

Shailesh Nema, Michelman India’s director said, in 2017, the flexible packaging market is valued at USD 230 bn. He added, the Indian flexible packaging market is valued at USD 5.6 bn which are 3% of the global packaging market. And the Indian growth rate is 11-14%. 

But he cautioned there is lack of regulatory clarity in packaging; the rapid growth leaves little resources for innovation; insufficient consumer awareness of sustainable packaging and a large unorganised market. 

In this context, he mentioned how the inauguration, the Michelman Innovation Centre for Coatings (MICC) has been a boost to the market. MICC invites brand owners, film producers, converters, universities to take advantage of the Kroenert pilot coater laminator. The MICC boasts of equipment for barrier testing, lamination, and for improving both the physical and chemical properties of coatings. One of the focus areas at the MICC is creating packaging structures with improved barrier properties.

He added, Michelman advocates sustainable packaging.

The MICC team sees seven layers packaging products as an opportunity. The scientists are seeking to create superior monolayers. And so, a flexible packaging solution like Michem Flex P-series extrusion coating primers which is a water-based formulation rendered packaging films and papers more receptive to extruded PE and PP film. This allows for a more efficient extrusion process at lower temperatures, and with better adhesion to the substrate. Grades are available for applications ranging from basic dry and wet, to demanding retort packaging.

Likewise, there is Michelman’s new oxygen barrier coating which eliminates the need to use alternatives containing chlorine, or nanoparticles, while maintaining effectiveness through processing and distribution functions. It shows excellent printability and lamination bond strength and is compliant for use in food.

Nema said, "The idea is to elongate the shelf life and create an oxygen barrier on flexible packaging film and paper."