PrintPack 2019: Toyo Ink considering colour management support for customers

Noel D’Cunha catches up with Haruhiko Akutsu, who took over as the head of Toyo Ink in India on 13 December 2018, during PrintPack 2019.

02 Feb 2019 | By Noel D'Cunha

Haruhiko Akutsu at Toyo Ink stand during PrintPack India 2019

Congratulations. Welcome to India as the new CEO of Toyo Ink India. What was your role in Toyo Ink prior to coming to India?

In 1986, after completing my studies, I joined Toyo and worked for the newspaper ink sales side. In 1992, my career got a fillip. I was appointed to the marketing and management executive for overseas subsidiaries and it started with Hong Kong, then Taiwan, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia.

In 2017, I returned to Tokyo to take up a new assignment that of providing support to all the overseas subsidiaries.

On 13 December 2018, I took over as the head of Toyo Ink in India.

How different is your role from all those you have performed before taking up this assignment?

In Malaysia and in Indonesia, I was the managing director of the subsidiaries. Here I am chairman and managing director of the Indian subsidiary of Toyo. However, the difference is in the size of the market. India is a huge market.

When we spoke to Kotaro Yoshida san, your predecessor, he was expecting to grow at 10% in 2018. Did he achieve that? And how are you going to build on that success?

As I understand, there was a certain impact of the implementation of GST on businesses in 2017, and the ink business was no exception. But in 2018, we started to see business pick up. So, last year we saw a 33% growth, touching an annual turnover of Rs 382-crore.

Yoshida San had a dream of making Toyo Ink a Rs 500-crore company. I would like to build on that keep the momentum of growth, growing at least 33% per annum. We are moving in the right direction by introducing new products for the growing packaging market, as well as becoming a customer solution provider.

Yoshida San brought in backward integration so as to become more efficient, streamlined administration and service activities. I will try to build on that, as well as provide new customer-centric solutions.

What kind of customer-solutions are you talking about?

Reducing cost and increasing quality are two eternal solutions. And top of this we would like to provide value-added services like our in-house developed computer colour matching (CCM) system wherein the packaging customer can utilise the leftover inks more efficiently thus bringing down their inventory and ultimately cost. Of course, this requires a lot of coordination and cooperation.

I am talking of services like colour management support. We do not want to be seen only as an ink supplier, but a partner who will work to take our customer’s business to the next level.

Inks are run on presses, and it can sometimes be the cause for the machine’s downtime. Press manufacturers are talking about preventive maintenance. What are you doing on that front?

Honestly speaking, we have more than 300 case-studies in Japan, the US, China, Thailand and also in Indonesia of our colour management system that does exactly what you have mentioned – helping reduce malfunction in the press thereby preventing unnecessary machine downtime.

Are they tools, and who have developed them?

Yes, these are software tools and are completely developed by Toyo. These are developed to suit the kind of inks we make.

When will we see it in India?

We are prepared to roll it out in India. As whenever we have printers who are willing to implement it, we will go all out to support them.

Will it be a cost centre? And why should printers pay for it as they are already paying for the ink?

Cost is an impediment, not only in India, but across the world. But when the printers see the benefit of implementing the colour management system, the cost will become secondary. The immense quality improvement will help differentiate our customers from their competitors; waste reduction will directly impact profitability. These are just two of the benefits but the customer will understand that there are many more.

Toyo does not talk a lot about NTNK, low migration inks. Why?

Yes, you are right. That’s because we were not so much in the packaging side of the printing ink business. But with NEXpress we are moving into the packaging segment, and we have made PrintPack show our vehicle to enter that segment.

We are projecting Toyo Ink not just an ink solution provider to the commercial segment but also the packaging segment.

What’s NEXpress ink about?

The NEXpress range will include the regulatory safe line-up of tailor-made products viz. Offset, Flexible, UV and Coatings for the packaging of food, toys, pharmaceuticals and other consumer products.

You have experts to come and talk to the brands on this?

Yes, we have Jose Novo from the global business division of Toyo Ink in Japan, come and meet the brand owners. So we are not just producing inks, but also connecting with the brand owners who are our customer’s customer.

We started this journey about six months ago.

Coming back to NTNK, low migration inks...

See low migration is a big topic which requires long discussions and there are perceptions that vary from customer to customer. I can say that we have NTNK inks and we are in process of offering Low Migration solution as well. Prior to this, we need to educate our customers as to what low-migration inks are. Because ink is not the only factor in making the product food-safe. There are paperboard, chemicals that run on presses, chemicals used with plates enlisting every minute thing that goes in printing.

By the way, we give a certificate in compliance with our product, but have you seen a certificate on the product that is sold to the end-user?

And NEXpress range of ink?

NEXpress is a packaging product basket that covers various product under Offset, flexible, UV and coating segment. It’s a line-up of regulatory-compliant inks and coatings that undergo strict quality management by the company to ensure these products conform to EN-71, RoHS, SVHC, and other safety initiatives.

Does it feature NTNK?

NEXpress inks feature a new series of Benzophenone-free and ITX-free UV inks that are specifically formulated for indirect food contact folding carton applications. The NEXpress flexible packaging series features a non-toluene, non-MEK series of gravure lamination inks that are specially formulated for food labels, packaging and other consumer products.

Why do you think NEXpress is a perfect fit for the market?

More than a perfect fit, I think that there’s a gap between the highly priced ink in the market and the second best. NEXpress fills that gap, both in pricing as well as quality.

We have been successful with our inks for the commercial segment, and I am sure the NEXpress range of inks will be equally successful for us.

Toyo has taken great strides in the last decade. There’s been a new plant and new product offerings, even to different industries. What’s your vision for the Indian plants?

Everybody knows that offset and gravure is our stronghold, our bread and butter. But we do not want to just stay happy with that. We have polymer and plastic colourants added to our portfolio. Then we have adhesives – one for flexible packaging and other for pressure-sensitive products.

That said, our expansion plans in India will continue, and we will continue to focus on what the Indian market needs.