Manoj Mehta: The Indian packaging industry to register a CAGR of 26.7%
Titled Awesome Asia, the 21st AGM of FAPGA will be hosted by the All India Federation of Master Printers (AIFMP) in New Delhi on 25 May. According to Manoj Mehta whose brainchild the event is, the forum will see participation from 16 member countries. Aultrin Vijay speaks to Manoj Mehta 25 days before the show
02 May 2022 | By Aultrin Vijay
Aultrin Vijay (AV): How excited are you about becoming the FAPGA President for 2022 to 2024?
Manoj Mehta (MM): It is indeed an honour. What’s more overwhelming is the love of my fellow printers and the expectations they have from me after the world has undergone major economic and habitual crises with respect to the CoronaVirus. I look forward to encouraging my fellow printers from Asian and the Pacific countries, by letting them connect and explore more opportunities in the world of print plus packaging.
AV: Describe the role you have to play?
MM: Taking off from Peter Lane’s words during the 19th FAPGA Forum in Philippines, "Cooperation and Collaborations" are required to overcome challenges in the print business. My role would be to find ways and encourage cooperation that goes beyond geographical borders and make them connect at regular intervals for discussions. This would, in a way, be conducive for long-term collaborations amongst Asia Pacific Printers. I feel it will be a win-win for everyone.
AV: Sir: Please introduce FAPGA for our readers? How will it benefit our industry in India?
MM: Simply said, What the All India Federation of Master Printers (AIFMP) is to the Indian print and packaging industry, the Forum of Asia Pacific Graphic Arts (FAPGA) is to print organisations across Asia and Pacific regions.
AV: How will it benefit our industry in India?
MM: It is here to make us open up to newer avenues and incorporate revolutionised printing methods. It will further support exports, joint ventures and work towards achieving its aims and objectives.
AV. What will be your agenda at FAPGA?
MM: It would most definitely be to evolve Indian print and packaging companies with respect to newer spheres such as digital, artificial intelligence, exports, etc, on the Asia-Pacific platform. As the president, I would like to introduce enhanced technologies, design common platforms for printers across geographical borders to network, organise knowledge seminars, etc.
AV: Anything for young members of the fraternity?
MM: Oh yes. Also on my agenda is promoting knowledge and knowhow amongst our gen-next printers. In focus would be a students’ exchange program for about three weeks where its participants would be stationed at various printing houses, visit on-going print expositions, etc.
AV: 2020-21 was one of the toughest years for the Indian print and packaging industry. How did you and our industry cope?
MM: It was tough; but staying positive, learning about our industry from various perspectives and going digital, has been the key. As we all know, it completely disrupted reading & shopping patterns. While retail and sales of luxury goods took a major setback, the spotlight was more on food, pharma and online media. Many of us ventured into diverse digital platforms; Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality and Artificial Intelligence made it big. As for packaging, the demand for corrugated packaging, melt-blown fabrics, masks, eco-friendly packing, etc. helped us sail through.
AV: Dominador Buhain, the president of FAPGA has asked you to describe the industry's situation in India. How would you?
MM: The pandemic has affected us all; however print and packaging has not just borne the brunt but also seen mega shifts in purchasing and information-sourcing patterns. It has opened up a world of opportunities for all who have accepted this change. There’s so much transformation. The Indian packaging industry is poised to register a CAGR of approximately 26.7%* (from 2021-2026). The demand is escalating due to the rising population, increasing income levels, changing lifestyles, more media penetration through the internet, television, and growing economy.
Moreover, it is one of the strongest growing sectors in the country. According to a prominent credit rating company in India - CARE, over 49% of the paper produced in the country is used for packaging purposes. Post the pandemic, my Indian fellow printers have learnt and evolved. I feel they are set to make a mark on the global horizons.
AV: What’s the type of conversations you have been having with your colleagues and contemporaries in the industry during the past 24 months?
MM: We took this opportunity to gain knowledge about the global situation and how the world had coped in past black swan events. We also looked into diverse awareness initiatives that could show us the light of day through various online interactive media. As the chairman of International Relations for AIFMP, I initiated ‘Going Global’, a monthly presentation spanning various topics from cutting costs to environmentally-sustainable packaging to VR & AR, and more. The motto was to Sustain, Rise & Thrive.
AV: What’s one thing people don’t know about FAPGA?
MM: Ah! Very few industry leaders in India are aware that it is the first time that the Forum of Asia Pacific Graphic Arts has an Indian print and packaging veteran come on board.
AV: Best piece of advice you’ve received during the pandemic?
MM: Someone once told me, “Make your home your world and the world will become your home”. These words really made so much sense during the pandemic. When the world was in lockdown, the well-being of our families, health and lives became everything we wanted. Our homes truly became our worlds. At the same time, technology made the entire world come to us. Each one of us realised its potential that was beyond geographical boundaries. We worked, shopped, connected & exchanged greetings via the internet. The world became our home.
AV: The future of FAPGA? Where do you see FAPGA and indeed our industry in 2024?
MM: FAGPA has always made a big impact on the Asian print & packaging countries. While it has covered a number of topics with conferences, meetings and its e magazine - FAPGA News, I have a wishlist that includes Interactive websites, conferences, and much more that touch up on and evolve printers, holistically. At the same time, efforts to curb foreseen paper shortages and supplies of print products (as warned by WPCF). Plus encouraging exports plus the weakening logistics sector due to the Ukraine-Russia stand-off, will be the topics to address.