Siegwerk’s CEO Dr Nicolas Wiedmann quotes the Mordor Intelligence data for the sector which expects a CAGR of 29.88% from 2018 to 2028. And with 12 facilities in India, Dr Wiedmann tells PrintWeek, Siegwerk is well positioned to best serve its customers across the country and remain able to expand capacities as business demands
PrintWeek (PW): What were Siegwerk’s biggest challenges in 2022?
Nicolas Wiedmann (NW): Overall, 2022 was undoubtedly an exceptionally challenging year full of uncertainties hitting the industry quite hard. From the ongoing effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, continuously rising raw material and utility costs to the war in Ukraine, the economic environment was volatile, and outcomes remained difficult to predict.
PW: How did you navigate through these challenges, meet performance targets?
NW: Our teams have worked hard to ensure we can continue serving our customers, make important progress on our sustainability agenda and further expand the company’s global footprint.
Although we could not fully meet our performance targets for the year, we still achieved important successes. With the successful acquisition and integration of La Sorgente, one of the most important ink suppliers for flexo printing in Italy, we, for example, further strengthened our position in the European packaging market. Besides, we have been honoured with several sustainability awards around the world.
From products that were considered the best sustainable innovation, through awards for operational sustainability management to customers developing award-winning packaging with the help of our solutions – all these recognitions showed us that we are on the right track with our sustainability journey.
PW: Anything India specific?
NW: India in particular, was one of our growth regions in 2022. The team did an excellent job enabling strong progress and growth during the crisis.
One local milestone was, for example, the commissioning of a specialised solvent-based blending facility at our Bhiwadi site in Rajasthan early that year. This new centre complemented the existing 100% toluene-free manufacturing plant to drive local growth further.
Besides, we opened a new warehouse and colour-matching centre in Tauru (Haryana) to support the country’s growing demand for packaging inks.
As the first company in India, we also transformed our Bhiwadi plant to 100% mineral oil-free in 2022, accompanied by the launch of the new Vega series, a mineral-oil-free ink line for food-safe applications. It marked an important move in our sustainability journey in the region, following our global commitment to actively drive the transformation to a circular economy.
In addition, Siegwerk India partnered with the non-profit organisation Centre for CSR & Sustainability Excellence (CCSE) to restore a pond in the Dhaki village in Tijara (Rajasthan) to help the local community to conservate natural water resources. This is just another example of our overall sustainability journey, which aims to improve the environmental and social performance in the regions where we operate.
PW: If we go back a little, the years 2020 and 2021, they too have been volatile. Did you feel the impact?
NW: The two years’ volatile economic environment has put all market players under high pressure. The ability to react quickly and adapt to rapidly changing circumstances has never been more important for companies as during that time. Thus, we have systematically adapted and reorganised our processes to these continuing challenges. We made every effort to ensure the optimisation of our organisation and systems to be able to make better decisions faster, continue to serve our customers and support our employees worldwide.
PW: What are the lessons learnt?
NW: Today, we are able to evaluate all impacts on pricing, availability, logistics and relationships with our suppliers in a significantly shorter time and derive adequate actions more quickly. Besides, we have established a network of backup suppliers to create an even more robust global supply network, securing a worldwide supply as stable as possible. We have also built corporate and local business continuity teams to jointly monitor the overall industry and markets to anticipate potential disruptions, such as supply shortages, border closures or broader transportation disruptions. All this enabled us to ensure the availability of our products on the market and allow competitive terms for our customers even in such a highly volatile environment.
Despite all economic uncertainties, we always stayed focused on our goals to continue growing our strong position within the global packaging market. We further set on differentiation via innovation and digitalisation to improve efficiencies and build new business opportunities while further investing in our infrastructure, technology, and personnel to promote long-term growth for our future.
PW: What does the concept of “customer development” mean to you?
NW: There is no “one size fits all” solution when it comes to packaging printing. The requirements for inks and coatings are highly complex and vary from packaging application, intended purpose, used materials, and printing technology. That’s why we always offer customised solutions that are concretely adjusted to the individual customer needs considering everything from printing set-up through packaging material, application, and targeted packaging end-life scenario to applicable regulations.
All our inks and coatings are always formulated with the highest technology and safety standards to best support the individual development project and printing job, ensuring optimum performance and product safety for the individual packaging or label solution of our customers. Therefore, we not only offer inks and coatings but also a range of services supporting customers throughout the entire production process - from prepress stage to further processing. All these supportive services are also finely adjusted to the individual needs to help customers achieve their individual performance and efficiency goals while saving time and money.
To sum it up, we focus on customisation in everything we do to best support customer development projects.
When it comes to packaging sustainability, the cross-industry exchange also plays an important role, as it cannot be tackled by one industry player or one sector alone due to the complexity behind it. That’s why we are partnering with different associations and industry networks to join forces along the supply chain and develop advanced packaging solutions with improved performance and recyclability to help realise the full potential of a circular economy. We are committed to shape the future of packaging not only through innovative and sustainable ink and coating solutions, but also through sharing our know-how to support our partners in putting theory into practice and making circular packaging solutions actionable.
PW: What is the coolest customer development case study you can share with us?
NW: Latest collaboration projects with customers and industry partners, for example, include the development of an innovative oxygen barrier coating with Henkel that enables mono-material packaging solutions with better recyclability and better barrier properties: Multi-functional thin layers replace incompatible multi-layer structures, creating recyclable packaging to support circular economy ambitions. We also joined forces with Clariant, Borealis and Beiersdorf to tackle the challenge of creating recyclable consumer packaging based on 100% retrieved plastic packaging waste for cosmetics applications. These are just a few collaboration examples. We are currently working on other exciting and promising projects about which I am not allowed to reveal anything yet.
PW: The K 2022 show in Dusseldorf and Labelexpo in India concluded on a high note. Three important exhibitions in Europe are lined up in 2023 and 2024, Labelexpo Europe in Brussels plus Interpack/Drupa in Dusseldorf. What should we expect from you at these shows?
NW: The trend towards a circular economy will dominate the upcoming trade shows here in Europe. Sustainability is a hot topic and the most important key driver in our industry, as the need for change has never been more pressing than today. It’s about enhancing the performance and recyclability of packaging to ensure a cleaner future for the next generations.
As already communicated by the Labelexpo Europe 2023, resource management, digital technologies, and product safety will be core topics of the show in Brussels this year. In this context, we will focus our presence on sustainable printing inks and coatings for the development of circular packaging solutions. We will, for example, present our latest deinking primer solutions, a field we see a growing demand in the market. LED-UV will be another focus for us based on ever-growing customer interest, as it already was at Labelexpo Americas last year.
This year we will present the two series Sicura NutriflexLEDTec and Sicura Flex Dual Cure. The Sicura NutriflexLEDTec is a low-migration flexo printing ink series, suitable for processing on all types of inline label or packaging printing machines on a wide range of plastic materials and other substrates, that can be cured by either LED-UV or mercury arc lamp UV-curing (Dual Cure system). The Sicura Flex Dual Cure is a TMPTA-free formulated LED-UV and/or UV-curing ink series for non-NPH (Nutrition,
Pharma & Hygiene) applications. In addition, it can be assumed that the topics of inkjet and digitisation will also be of interest to Labelexpo visitors.
Please note that we won’t be exhibiting at Interpack/Drupa this year.
PW: India is a price-sensitive market, yet the trends are forever changing. As a mass producer of products, how does one stay relevant, and what innovations in products can one offer for consumers to create trends or disrupt the marketplace?
NW: Product safety is, and remains, the most important and challenging aspect of the packaging and a key concern, especially in food packaging. Also, the apex quality and safety regulators in India - the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) and Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) - have already highlighted the importance of packaging safety through the Food Safety and Standard (Packaging) Regulations, 2018 and subsequent revisions. Providing safe printing inks and coatings for the intended end use has always been one of our top priorities.
In this context, we are not only committed to stringent safety and environmental standards, but also attach great importance to transparency along the value chain, as this is the only way to ensure consumer safety and environmental protection. Over time, raw materials such as the solvents toluene and mineral oil have earned global disrepute for their bad toxicological profile with manifold adverse effects, making them an issue related to consumer safety, occupational safety and environmental safety.
PW: And Siegwerk’s food-save journey?
NW: Even before any national legislation in 2018, Siegwerk India had already started its transition to toluene-free packaging inks. It voluntarily moved to 100% mineral oil-free production in 2022 following the company’s global commitment to product and consumer safety.
With these proactive moves, we have achieved a fully food-safe operation in India, which in a way revolutionises the local packaging market.
Today, we are a global leader in providing product safety guidance and have an expert team exclusively dedicated to this topic.
As part of our overall commitment towards product safety, we also see it as our responsibility to raise general awareness for ink and packaging safety. This also includes educating the different stakeholders about the adverse effects of hazardous solvents such as mineral oils or toluene and the need to eliminate them from packaging inks in the interest of food safety and consumer health.
PW: How do you address greenwashing as part of your sustainability/circular economy communications?
NW: To externally monitor and verify our sustainability performance, we, for example, pursued a certification by EcoVadis, a leading business sustainability ratings provider, which methodology is built on international sustainability standards, including the Global Reporting Initiative, the United Nations Global Compact and the ISO2600, covering 200 industries and more than 160 countries.
In 2022, we finally received the EvoVadis Silver Medal rating across all business units and regions with an overall score considered in the top 15% of companies in the ink industry.
In December 2022, we also became the first printing ink manufacturer to join the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) to reinforce our commitment to carbon neutrality in line with the latest findings in climate science. The SBTi is a collaboration between the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC), the World Resources Institute (WRI) and the World Wide Fund For Nature (WWF). We are committed to set science-based targets as well as net-zero targets, including a long-term science-based target and plan to submit these to the SBTi in the first half of 2023. In doing so, we will be a part of the Business Ambition for 1.5°C campaign and the Race to Zero campaign, aiming to reduce emissions in line with a trajectory to keep global temperature increase to 1.5°C.
PW: What is HorizonNOW?
NW: To date, we have made successful progress on our journey to become a circular and digital packaging solutions company. We are developing circular ink and coating solutions and continuously rethinking our processes and business according to a circular approach.
With HorizonNOW, we have launched a sustainable business program to manage our ambitious sustainability targets and keep track of our progress and achievements. The initiative focuses on seven measurable targets to be achieved by 2025. These are based on the UN Sustainable Development Goals and touch all aspects of our business. They include, among others, achieving carbon neutral scope 1 and 2 emissions globally, innovating our portfolio so that 75% of all products and services sold enable reducing, reusing or recycling of packaging, and achieving a minimum gender representation at the executive level of 15%.
Another target is to provide full transparency on our products’ environmental footprint, enabling our customers to precisely and easily determine their own environmental footprint. This Product Environmental Footprint (PEF) represents the next level of European environmental policy, forming the comprehensive basis for the declaration of the products with regard to their environmental compatibility.
PW: How do you ensure HorizonNOW success?
NW: All in all, HorizonNOW represents the roadmap of our sustainability journey, ensuring that all our actions have the desired impact. To guarantee its success, HorizonNOW is also backed up by a proper organizational structure with dedicated resources to concretely drive sustainable change inside as well as outside of Siegwerk. With our “sustainability office”, we facilitate and guide the implementation and advancement of this sustainable business agenda while the Sustainability Council ensures top-management responsibility.
We know that to achieve those goals, we still have more homework to do, which will require working together with our customers and other important business partners. To deliver, we must build a sustainable business that remains economically viable and focus on the visibility of our measurable achievements. I strongly believe that HorizonNOW is the right strategic direction, and that we will be successful in achieving our ambitious targets.
PW: The Government of India has set a vision of a USD five-trillion economy. In your view, what are the opportunities for the print and packaging industry - and your organisation - in India?
NW: In 2022, India was one of the fastest growing economies and the sixth-largest consumer market in the world. Until today, the country has emerged as one of the largest consumers and producers of inks in the Asia Pacific region. Furthermore, the expansion of organised retail, the rise in the middle-class population’s purchasing power, and exports contribute to a growing packaging demand to increase shelf life, maintain production speed, and guarantee quality.
India has especially seen solid packaging growth in the food and beverage sectors due to increased packaged food consumption and demand for quality products. Besides, growing investments in the food processing sector are further opening up new packaging opportunities aiming for the reduction of agricultural crop waste.
Thus, the food and beverage sector is the main driver of the packaging market’s expansion in India, with an expected CAGR of 29.88% from 2018 to 2028 according to Mordor Intelligence.
From our perspective, India is still our biggest and the fastest-growing market. Over the past years, we grew disproportionately in most of our business units compared to the market. This development was mainly driven by the fact that Siegwerk is perceived as a leader in product safety and regulations and a provider of innovative solutions for a circular economy – delivering on the two core topics at the Indian printing and ink markets.
PW: As and when the present USD 3.1-trillion economy grows to a USD 5-trillion economy, the Indian printing industry, particularly the packaging industry, will see substantial growth. One number says, the packaging consumption in India has increased 200% in the past decade, rising from 4.3 kg per person per annum (pppa) to 8.6 kg pppa as on FY20. How prepared are you to support the print and packaging factories in India?
NW: Our local ink production capacities are aligned with the increasing packaging demand. With our state-of-the-art solvent-based blending centre at Bhiwadi in Rajasthan, we, for example, have an extensive blending capacity of over 13,500 metric tons (MT) and a storage capacity of 700 MT. Our warehouse and colour matching centre in Tauru, Haryana, in turn, has a storage capacity of 1,000 tons and still has room for further expansion requirements.
With all our 12 facilities in India, we are well positioned to best serve our customers across the country and remain able to expand our capacities as business demands.
PW: In India, too many business owners talk about their machines and investments. Few focus on soft power. For example, culture, team-building, delegating, housekeeping, plus how to get optimum conversion costs and be much more efficient. Your view?
NW: As a global company with around 5,000 employees in more than 30 countries, we know that our people - the so-called Siegwerkers - are our most important asset. Their motivation and engagement are the basis for our success. That’s why our employees are always at the heart of everything we do.
We strive to build a supportive working environment for personal growth, creating an atmosphere in which employees feel respected and motivated to give their best.
We aim for diverse and inclusive workplaces where everyone can develop and surpass oneself while ensuring safe and healthy working conditions. But we are not only looking inside our organisation. We also advocate for diverse, inclusive, and equitable communities outside our company. By generating community benefit, we globally support corporate social responsibility projects with both time and financial investment to give back to the communities we serve.
Saying so, it’s again our Siegwerkers around the globe who volunteer their time and know-how to especially help children and young adults in need to prepare themselves for a better future. This deeply rooted team spirit of solidarity and passion drives us forward.
So, yes, it shouldn’t be just about hard facts as the “soft power” is like the engine, the DNA of the company. That’s why we also attach great importance to soft factors and explicitly take into account “people and community” topics in our overall sustainability agenda for the sustainable and healthy development of our company in all aspects.
At a glance: Dr Nicolas Wiedmann
- Fav most app? Apple fitness app to track my daily physical activity.
- Besides your phone and wallet, what are a couple of must-have items you always carry? In the meanwhile only my phone and no more wallet. And unfortunately also my glasses.
- Window or aisle seat? Aisle.
- Snack or meal? Snack.
- Cocktail or diet drink? Cocktail.
- SUV or luxury? ECar.
- What’s the current author you are bingeing on? Philippa Perry, and the book is: The book you wish your parents had read (and your children will be glad that you did).
- One celeb who you met who has impressed you? Dirk Nowitzki.
- First thing you notice in a biz meeting? Energy level.
- One question you always ask when you are hiring? What’s the biggest miss in your business life.
- What’s the one thing you wish you knew at age 21? A lot of problems are solving themselves.
- What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received? Marry that woman.
Product spotlight – VEGA – The colour of safety
There have been major transformations in the Indian packaging industry with the introduction of food safety and standard (packaging) regulations in packaging safety. With the Bureau of India Standards further revising the standards on food packaging inks, it made safety procedures more stringent, keeping consumer safety as the primary objective.
In 2017, Siegwerk’s commitment towards product safety led it to the decision of supplyingonly toluene-free inks, much before it became a legal obligation.Taking it forward we introduced an entirely new ink range of inks – Vega that is completely mineral oil-free and safe for packaging as well as non- packaging applications. “We have done this because, it is our commitment to make food packaging safer and also ensure the safety of our supply chain partners and end consumers. We strive to support the brand owners and supply chain partners and help them keep their brand reputation intact.We aim to put an end to mineral oil cross-contamination for packaging that uses Siegwerk inks. And we strive for strict adherence to compliance set by regulatory bodies such as FSSAI and BIS.”