Industries are meant for the creation of wealth and developing of an economy. However, there is one industry that has a unique role of wealth creation both through its manufacturing activities and also by way of preserving the wealth or value generated in many other industries, it is the packaging industry.
Packaging was once considered a part of the manufacturing process and not as a separate industry as it is today. Over a period of time packaging emerged as a crucial segment of any economy in proportion to the growth-both in terms of its business size and technical competence.
Today packaging, in particular the flexible packaging market is worldwide has gone up from $58.3 billion in 2011 and is expected to touch $ 71.3 billion by 2016.The yearly growth rate is also expected to be more than 4%.
According to a report, the flexible packaging market in Asia-Pacific region has grown in both volume and value in the year 2012-13 and is expected to be fastest growing region, rising at a CAGR of 4.4% from 2013 to 2019. This trend is expected to continue owing to the rapid economic development in the region which in turn has resulted in the growth of various industries such as food & beverages, personal care products and pharmaceuticals among others.
Technical advancements have also dramatically changed how flexible packaging is viewed. It has become the most favoured form of packaging replacing rigid packaging like glass, metals etc. It is estimated the global consumption of plastic packaging will grow at an annual rate of 3.5% over the next 5 years reaching $ 231 billion by 2018.
In the Indian context the flexible packaging industry has proven its mettle by growing at an exceptional pace. The industry has registered a growth of 20-25%.
Apart from providing employment opportunities, contributing to the economy through its services, packaging doubles up as a source of preservation to products like snack foods, candy and confectionery, sugar, rice & other cereals, beverages, tea & coffee, desert mixes, noodles, wheat flour, soaps and detergents, shampoos & conditioners, vegetable oil, spices, marinates & pastes, cheese & dairy products, frozen food, sea food, meat, anti-fog, pet food, pharmaceuticals, contraceptives, garden fertilizers and plant nutrients, motor oil and lubricants, automotive and engineering components etc.
Flexible packaging has a catalytic role in the modern economy. This form of packaging offers a variety of exciting marketing opportunities to the producer without increasing the cost of production. The packaging can be tailored to suit the merchandising requirements. Flexible style of packaging can be customized into practically any shape or size. They can also incorporate a variety of colors and styles. Flexible packaging helps businesses and brands gain recognition.
The role of flexible packaging isn’t limited to just attract the consumer. It is also meant to protect the perishable items inside. Protection from contamination and deterioration throughout its shelf life is also an integral part of good flexible packaging. It must also be informative of the nutrients and ingredients and other details in compliance with the labeling and packaging regulations.
Owing to the growing competition in the flexible packaging sector the manufacturers worldwide are increasingly coming up with innovative and effective flexible packaging products and solutions. The greatest attribute of flexible packaging that has been the mainstay of this sector is how well it is in sync with a variety of customer trends. Good looks, sustainability, convenience are some of the factors that have matched customer’s expectations.
Keeping up with the times and the dynamics of the packaging industry Uflex has been a pioneer in setting benchmarks for delivering innovative packaging concepts and to ensure the safety and viability of the packaged food in its life cycle.
A study conducted by McKinsey & Company states that the Indian pharmaceutical industry will touch USD 45 billion by 2020 and the market will be the sixth largest in the world by the same year. The reason for this robust growth in the pharma sector is being attributed to committed health insurance, improved healthcare facilities, a growing economy and FDIs. Healthcare in India contributes to almost 6% of the nation’s GDP.
For the flexible packaging industry the pharmaceutical sector is a golden opportunity to diversify and innovate. Due to an increase in the health awareness, increase in product processing units, demand for convenient packaging, the pharmaceuticals packaging industry is registering strong gains and as the market grows the demand for flexible packaging in this sector is also expected to grow.
According to a report (marketsandmarkets.com), edged by a vast population and favorable demographics Asia-Pacific countries like India, Japan and China is expected to overtake North America and the European pharma packaging market by 2018. Other factors like robust pharma market, increased incentives, investments and initiatives both by the government and FDIs will help keep the market at an upside.
Flexible packaging presents many advantages to the medicinal industry like better features and convenience in packaged products. Child resistance, tamper proof and anti-counterfeit packaging are also some innovations that the flexible packaging industry has come up with keeping with the worldwide demand. As with most other packaged products, pharmaceuticals too need a dependable and innovative packaging solution that is a combination of quality, protection and convenience.
Over the years, the pharmaceutical companies have let go of glass packaging and switched to PET bottles for packaging their syrups and other liquid medications.
As most of the Indian pharmaceutical products are also exported overseas (US$ 14.6 billion in 2012–13), it is imperative for the flexible packaging industry to provide packaging that is foolproof and compliant to international norms. For that the packaging systems need to be advanced.
A rapidly developing pharmaceutical industry in the country and a more aware and educated consumer has made it mandatory that the packaging structure also goes through a paradigm shift. Uflex Ltd., India’s largest flexible packaging solution provider has ensured to keep pace with the times and keep itself armed with technological innovations to provide affordable and sustainable packaging solutions. Developments in the pharma sector have pushed the flexible packaging companies in India to be more competitive, economical and novel.
According to the 2011 census 68.84% of Indians live in rural areas. (Wikipedia) No wonder then that the Indian rural market offers great opportunities and potential to companies as two-thirds of the country’s consumers are residents of this belt. Almost half of the national income is generated in the rural areas. In 2007 the rural retail opportunity was estimated to be approx USD 34 billion which is expected to touch USD 58 billion by 2015.
However, a large proportion of India’s rural population remains poor and unable to afford products with a steep price range and that is a major concern for manufacturers. In this regard the concept of products in small packages/sachets has appealed to one and all. Shampoo sachets were the first to be introduced in this trend at a minimum price of Re.1 targeting the rural consumer. According to an ORG-MARG data, 95% of total shampoo sales in rural India is by sachets. The demand was fuelled by largely price conscious consumer residing in rural and small towns.
With time and the increasing popularity of the sachet rural marketing became high on the agenda of most of the FMCG companies who came up with their products in small packets and at a basic price. From shampoos to hair oil to toothpaste to biscuits to soups to chocolates to cold drinks/juices to various other items sold like hot cakes.
Low purchasing power of a majority of the Indian consumers has ensured that the demand for small packaging does not die down. Flexible packaging has gained mostly in this trend owing to its low cost. Uflex Ltd. is at the helm of delivering innovation packaging solutions through its constant and improved R&D.
Packaging which once upon a time had the simple purpose of protecting the packed products has come a long way. Today flexible packaging is an art, science and a technology in itself. Progressive R&D has also ensured that packaging has become an integral part and a reflection of the consumers’ personality and lifestyles.
Small packets and sachets have allowed the rural consumer to user durables/consumables in their everyday lives which an urban consumer would also use thereby improving their standard of living.
The rural market is a minefield of opportunities for any marketer provided that his plans are in tune with the specifics and requirements of the market. By capitalizing on this trend the flexible packaging industry can invest in advanced sachet packaging technology which can help the manufacturers achieve the flexibility and efficiency and ease for which these packs are intended. The little pouch is a powerhouse of benefits which extends from the manufacturer to the consumer.
First Impression is the last impression and this is what forms the basic rule for packaging industries. Besides ensuring the packaging to be safe and hygienic, packing department necessarily has to spend time, money and energy in designing the packaging of the product. It is because packaging is often the consumer’s first point of contact. The more attractive the package, better are the chances of it flying off the shelf into the shopping basket.
The packaging becomes more important in case of food and beverages market. In case of packaged food, the packaging should not only be designed to attract the consumer but should also be able to specify the nutritional value of the food product. Consumers are constantly evolving to reflect societal values, likes and dislikes. Owing to the wide spread of internet and awareness, consumers are growing more health conscious and search for products that provide nutritional benefits. They seek packages that include food quality and safety, freshness and information rather than specific retailer and manufacturer driven benefits. Therefore, with so many nutritional and added-value food and beverage products entering the market, packaging has to be both eye-catching and adequately reflect health benefits.
The first thing in packaging that attracts the consumers is the color. The food packaging must necessarily take colors in the context of the product’s marketing goals. Hence, we can see children’s cereal packaging has many bright colors that attract their eyes; health-focused cereals will have more whites and pastels to project a softer, more adult image. Second is the design of the packaging. Along with colors, design can have noticeable effect on consumer behavior. Therefore, the food packaging should feature a design that makes it easier to eat.
Third is the sustainability of the packaging. The role of packaging is not limited to attract the consumer but extends to protect the food items inside. Protection from contamination and deterioration throughout its shelf life is also an integral part of good packaging. Therefore, packaging that is innovative, flexible and eco-friendly tends to create an appeal amongst the consumers.
Uflex Ltd., India’s largest flexible packaging company has been offering amongst others, the food packaging solutions for more than two decades now. Keeping up with the times and the dynamics of the packaging industry Uflex has been a pioneer in setting benchmarks for delivering innovative packaging concepts and to ensure the safety and viability of the packaged food in its life cycle. Flexible packaging at Uflex is known for excellent chemical resistance, strength, protection against moisture and odour and dimensional stability. Its innovations in packaging enable food retailers to better protect the quality of the products, while expanding the range of marketing possibilities.
Sustainability is fast gaining favours among companies, with consumers increasingly looking to buy products that are ‘green’. A recent report highlighted the growing trend of sustainable packaging in growing markets of China and India. The cause is attributed to a growing middle class who is aware of health and environmental issues of flexible packaging. It is forecasted that by 2018, Asia will become the largest market for sustainable packaging in the world accounting for 32% of the overall market share. In the same year consumer demand, technological advancement will push sustainable packaging to a $244 billion mark.
Bioplastics have been playing an integral role in company’s sustainability drive over the past couple of years and these materials will be more and more commonly available as we further head into the new millennium. The global production of bioplastics is tipped to increase from 1.2 million tonnes in 2011 to 5.8 million tonnes by 2016.
The approach towards sustainability also offers a competitive business advantage that manufacturers should keep in mind. Good environmental performance and business value can work in tandem, and this is all the more relevant in today’s time.
In addition to clear business advantage, sustainable packaging offers exploring innovative options both for the flexible packaging manufacturer and the FMCG industry. It is important that both the sectors work together to employ a number of innovative approach to improve sustainability of their products like recycling and reprocessing infrastructure, using optimum packaging, producing packaging from bio-based materials.
Packaging companies in India like the Uflex Ltd., which is India’s largest flexible package provider, has always been committed towards sustainable options of flexible packaging. Being on the edge of innovation they provide packaging that keeps the products safe, fresh and devoid of any harmful reactions. With the constant R&D for safer and environment friendly packaging, the company is dedicated to bring safer, better and sustainable packaging solutions.
Uflex products are high on sustainability which is important in packaging as the product is very close to the consumer and is usually assumed as a waste. Uflex believes that wherever possible all flexible packaging waste should be re-cycled or reprocessed in the same industry or alternative applications.
Their Green pet and rPET techniques ensure that the plastic is manufactured in an environment friendly manner without compromising on the quality of the product and the recycling and reprocessing of the plastic waste is done in a safe and non hazardous manner.
In its new role, sustainability is a way for the company to provide a platform to the consumers that allows them to feel like they have made a difference, to have done something that they might not have been able to achieve on their own and feel good about the purchase.