During the initial months of the pandemic, thousands of Brazilian households moved to fill the void left by social isolation by acquiring pets, a phenomenon that also highlights that Brazil is one of the largest markets worldwide for pet products, only behind the United States and China.
This increment is also confirmed by a recent study by Euromonitor International which shows an 87% sales increase for pet accessories and foods in the last five years, a figure that the intelligence agency is sure will hold steady all the way through 2026.
In a market with such a high growth potential, differentiation has become a key factor for the competitiveness of companies that tend to the demand for pet food, especially driving products and packaging that stand out for their sustainability, functionality, and food safety guarantees.
Animal and environmental wellbeing
An opportunity to generate aggregate value for the pet care products sector, while at the same time responding to environmental demands of pet owners, was materialized recently in Brazil for Adimax, one of the largest dog and cat food processors of this South American country. Established in 2002 with the mission to promote domestic animal wellbeing through high-quality foods, this manufacturer has also pioneered the development of environment-friendly solutions in Brazil.
As part of its product portfolio, this brand has a line called Fórmula Natural. Developed by veterinarians, it employs advanced nutrition concepts for dogs and cats, striving for differentiation by incorporating into their food production fresh meats and specific sources of carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins and minerals, including fruits and vegetables.
It was precisely for this line that the company developed and rolled out flexible packaging produced with Ecophane films, manufactured in Brazil by Terphane. These films include a minimum of 30% rPET, as warranted by the “Recycled Content” seal granted by the international certification body SCS Global Services, becoming the only rPET material certified for direct food contact by Anvisa, the National Agency for Sanitary Vigilance.
Terphane devoted its full attention and capacity to the development of the films, facing the challenge of keeping barrier properties intact. “It took us nearly two years to develop these films and, although our resins were already approved for direct contact with foods, our idea was to add recyclable content to the inner layers so we could expand a whole line of products in which film functionality remained practically unaltered,” highlighted to Mundo PMMI André Gani, Sales and Marketing director for Terphane.
For Adimax, the use of this Ecophane film line has proven to be a remarkable advancement in their purpose of having more sustainable packaging presentations for their products. “The socio-environmental issues along with an innovative spirit, part of the Adimax DNA, push us to constantly search for alternatives that improve our packaging using sustainable technologies. All this, without giving up on aesthetics or functionality, while offering more comfortable and practical solutions to our clients,” Leonardo Dalmagro, Packaging Development manager for Adimax told Mundo PMMI.
These attributes could not be more consistent with the food-product line currently being packaged with Ecophane films, that ensure a reduced usage of virgin raw materials, placing Adimax at the Brazilian forefront of this petfood segment trend. “The partnership between Adimax and Terphane is consistent with our conviction of promoting a perfect relationship between the food and its packaging, and nothing could be more adequate for a product spectrum carrying the word “Natural” in its name than a sustainable flexible plastic packaging,” stated Dalmagro.
The Ecophane post-consumer recycled polyester films align with the objective of Adimax to advance in the transit towards a circular economy, an initiative aided by the new materials by reducing the carbon footprint and the use of fossil-based products, and the amounts of residue that reaches landfills, rivers, and the oceans. “For every 1,000 kilograms of PET that we use for our packaging, we avoid the disposal of 13,800 one-liter bottles in inadequate places,” Dalmagro explained to us. “Our goal is to intensify the actions we take to ensure sustainability all through the life cycle of our product.”
A project with a smart eco-design way of thinking
Packaging for the Fórmula Natural line were originated in a smart eco-design project centered around the economic, social, and environmental pillars of sustainability. During its execution, different challenges were sorted, including how to determine the right portioning sizes, all the way up to the application of a resealable system to reduce product waste. Its design and materialization counted on the participation of, apart from the film manufacturer Terphane, the converting Brazilian company Copobrás.
Andre Gani explained the initial requirements their client had for the films that were to be incorporated into the packaging. “Adimax was looking for typical common polyester film characteristics, such as oxygen, gas and humidity barrier properties, and keeping mechanical and chemical polyester properties which ensure perfect machinability.” This last subject turned out to be extremely important, due to the ability of polyester to accept either printing or lamination. “At the end of the day, Adimax was looking to have the same properties of the polyester they regularly purchased, while at the same time moving to a greener polyester,” Andre Gani pointed out.
Previously, Adimax had led the development of sustainable packaging in Brazil, by using I'm GreenTM materials made by the manufacturer Braskem from renewable sources such as sugarcane-derived ethanol. With the early adoption of this material, Dalmagro said “we contributed to significantly reduce the use of fossil fuels and to lower greenhouse gas emissions throughout the plastic chain. We also performed environmental compensations through the Eureciclo initiative, seriously committing ourselves to promoting a more resource-conscious consumption.”
The development Adimax embarked on with collaborations from Terphane and Copobrás, made it possible to alter the structure of the conventional polyester they were using, without any kind of negative effect on the product. “With the new films we were able to maintain high-barrier properties, prioritizing food safety,” the Packaging Director for Adimax underlined. Likewise, due to the similarities in nature of Ecophane films and conventional PET, the packaging manufacturer has not met any type of hurdle in the converting process, nor any production line adjustments have been necessary. The aesthetic appearance of the Fórmula Natural flexible packaging has not suffered alterations either, as noted by Andre Gani: “What we found with this development was that printers did not need to modify their inks at all; that was the main idea, to allow for a seamless implementation of this project.”
Scalability at hand
The projections regarding the adoption of Ecophane films by petfood packaging evidence that these will have wide acceptance. At Adimax, they foresee their use in the Fórmula Natural line could expand to other references in this brand’s portfolio. The favorable reception these new packaging has had within the consumer base is pushing a wider implementation. “Consumers grow more demanding each day in terms of how brands stand in face of sustainability, and our clients are no different. Even after such a short time following our launching, we have received numerous positive feedback that proves we are on the right path,” Dalmagro assured us.
The advantages this new packaging has are evident and promotion is already under way through various channels: our own clients, who use our packaging as a means of information, social media, and via the Adimax sales and technical teams. The adoption of these types of films and the incorporation of increasingly higher recycled content without losing food-contact capabilities, seems to be an unstoppable trend which will surely go mainstream and reach many sectors and very different products.
Particularly, this Adimax application represents an unprecedented technological advancement in Brazil and complies with its corporate philosophy. “Our goal is to intensify actions towards the circular economy, being sustainable all through the product’s life cycle,” stated Dalmagro to summarize the reasons behind this Brazilian development on new packaging for the popular petfood, Fórmula Natural.
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