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Thoughts on innovation

Senior research analyst and consultant M Sam Vineet of Beroe Consulting, whose U.S. offices are in Cary, NC, shares his thoughts on innovative packaging.

Packaging World:
What are the drivers behind packaging innovation?

M Sam Vineet:
Major drivers are ease of handling at the warehouse, optimization of the overall packaging cost, ease of identification, and improved end-of-life carbon footprint. But perhaps the most important driver of them all is differentiation. Products must not look like those offered by the competition, and innovative packaging is among the best ways to make them look different.

Are you seeing innovation more in primary packaging or secondary?
We’re seeing it in both, and in tertiary packaging, as well. The important thing for Consumer Packaged Goods companies to keep in mind is that packaging innovation may need to serve a variety of retail channels, including wholesale clubs, supermarkets, convenience stores, and cash-and-carry.

Can you provide an example of innovative packaging in food and beverage?
Bertolli pasta sauce pouches from Unilever are a good example. By moving out of glass jars to stand-up pouches, Unilever saved almost 70 percent in packaging materials. This enabled them to come up with packaging that was microwavable, had easier handling characteristics, and had an equivalent shelf life compared to glass. A major improvement was witnessed in logistics, where transport efficiency was increased dramatically. One truck load of unfilled pouches equals 25 truckloads of unfilled glass jars. Not to mention the fact that the consumer now encounters a far more attractive package.

Any other examples?
Mars is all set to launch its new retail-ready package for its Dove chocolate bars that come in a new space-efficient user friendly format. It prevents any hassle that arises while retrieving a single chocolate bar from the package.

What are the future trends you see in packaging?
Manufacturers across the globe are searching for ways to reduce, downgauge, and lightweight their packaging. There’s also an emphasis on intelligent packaging, where detecting, sensing, recording, tracing, and communicating become the functions performed by the package. Valued at around 1.62 billion USD in 2011, global packaging should grow substantially at a Compound Annual Growth Rate of around 8.3% through 2013. Adapting innovative techniques in packaging is not limited anymore to the developed nations and has penetrated high-growth emerging markets like India, China, and the Middle East. 

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