Sustainability among the trends shaping future of food and beverage packaging
At Anuga FoodTec, Tetra Pak identifies four major expectations by brand owners and consumers for food and beverage packaging technology that will drive future innovation.
Tetra Pak offered a comprehensive view on the economic, social, and environmental forces impacting food-packaging development during a trade-show press event and impressively large and technologically advanced 16,000-sq-ft booth at Anuga FoodTec 2012, held in Cologne, Germany, in late March.
The company’s theme for the event, “Today, Tomorrow, Together,” highlighted its focus on packaging solutions for today—especially in the realm of liquid cartons for food and beverages—and innovation for the future that meets key consumer trends.
At its press event, attended by more than 100 journalists from around the world, Tetra Pak president and CEO Dennis Jönsson, said, “We have seen the world changing around us. Demographics, economics, and sustainability are driving changes.”
Among the demographic changes he cited were the growth of aging populations in developed markets, new and expanding middle-class populations in developing countries, and the expansion of the world’s population overall. “There are tremendous opportunities for growth primarily due to population growth,” said Jönsson. “We will have two billion more customers by 2020.”
Speaking to economics, Jönsson noted that Tetra Pak had not attended the last edition of Anuga, in 2009. Due to the poor economic environment, “many of our customers did not attend, so we did not either,” he said. This year’s show saw Tetra Pak coming off a year of 5% growth, resulting in €10.3 billion in revenue and “growth in all geographies,” including South and Southeast Asia, Central and South America, China, and Sub-Sahara Africa.
As for sustainability, “we need to do more with less,” he said. “New realities are shifting all the time.”
Setting the stage for the event, Jönsson closed his presentation by enumerating the four trends identified by Tetra Pak that will drive the future of packaging. These include rising expectations by both brand owners and consumers in the areas of:
• Package functionality and differentiation
• Overall packaging performance and reliability in relation to cost
• Food safety
Package functionality, differentiation
During a press tour of the Tetra Pak booth, Francesco Faella, product director at Tetra Pak, introduced some of the company’s newest package designs, created to meet the desire by brand owners and customers for packaging with greater functionality and differentiation. “The customer [brand owner] wants the consumer to choose their product,” he said. “The selection process at the shelf is so short. A package must be able to quickly communicate quality and functionality.”
One of the functional expectations of late has been for convenient, on-the-go packaging, noted a complementary Tetra Pak press release. “One of the biggest challenges to the food industry in recent years has been the growth of on-the-go consumption,” says the release, “with busy consumers demanding a ‘right here, right now’ service from their shopping experience. Consumers are increasingly looking for a stress-free option.”
This need for on-the-go packaging also applies in the area of healthy products, where the demand has been met “by daily-dose drinks, energy boosters, and probiotics, a market which is expected to expand by four percent globally between 2001 and 2014,” adds the release.
Other functional expectations for packaging include:
• Logistical benefits, for brand owners
• Easier pouring and better drinking experience, for consumers
• Easier opening, for aging consumers
In the area of differentiation, “expectations are constantly rising as consumers look for that ‘extra’ experience from every purchase through a combination of outstanding looks and excellent functionality,” says the release. This has resulted in the need for new package shapes and structures that offer on-shelf appeal and greater branding opportunities, and the ability for high-quality printing.
Cost-effective packaging system performance, reliability
In this area, Tetra Pak spoke on some of the growing expectations by brand owners for efficient, productive packaging technologies—including machinery, software, and controls—that offer reduced cost and complexity.
Brand owners are “aiming for knock-out packaging for consumers that’s cost efficient to produce,” said Roberto Franchitti, director of project management, development, and engineering, Tetra Pak. Franchitti sat down with journalists to answer questions on the Hyperspeed Concept, one of several new technologies presented by Tetra Pak at Anuga to enhance the efficiency and performance of packaging operations.
The Hyperspeed Concept, expected to be ready for sale in three to four years, is new technology for the Tetra Pak A3 filling machine that allows the equipment to run at speeds to 40,000 packages/hr—70% faster than Tetra Pak’s top-rated liquid carton packaging machine. “It allows for a significant cost reduction, less investment, and fewer utilities,” Franchitti explained.
The concept relies on a redesigned jaw system and an innovative final folder based on linear guides that handle packages firmly until final delivery to the belt. It also requires the use of new sterilization technology for dairy, eBeam noncontact and dry sterilization, which Tetra Pak says will provide “reduced system costs and improved environmental performance.”
Other brand owner expectations for packaging systems include:
• Greater integration of production
• Dynamic system feedback
• Software that is more intuitive
• Software that is easy to upgrade
• Greater mobility, through tools such as iPads and iPhones
• Commonality of controls
• Controls that are easier to use, eliminate human error, and reduce downtime
• Equipment that allows for flexibility in package size and shape
In his opening presentation, Jönsson said, “There is a radical awareness from consumers that is driving the need for systems that ensure the safety of their food.”
According to Charles Brand, vice president of marketing and product management for Tetra Pak, the three top areas for innovation around food safety are product safety/no contamination; tamper-evidence; and full traceability.
Among the suggestions by Tetra Pak for solutions that ensure food safety are data management and marking systems that allow for simple, secure, end-to-end package traceability, and on-pack labeling, such as 2D bar-codes, that allow consumers access to information on their specific product, such as its origin.
In the area of sustainability, Brand told journalists in a sit-down meeting that it’s not just about the products a company supplies, but the way it runs its own operations. “It’s not just about paperboard or green caps,” he says. “It’s about the operation of a company, the programs it has in place to drive down waste.”
Tetra Pak’s director of recycling and base materials, Global Environment, Mario Abreu, echoed this sentiment during a booth tour and one-on-one with journalists, as he spoke of Tetra Pak’s innovations in green packaging and its company-wide goals around sustainability, which include commitments around reducing its carbon emissions.
As for brand owners and consumers, Tetra Pak noted that they are looking for sustainable innovations that allow for:
• Source reduction
• The use of renewable materials
• Responsibly sourced materials
• Optimized packaging that allows for enhanced logistics
• Greater opportunities for recycling
• Broader packaging end-of-life options, such as waste-to-energy
• Equipment that uses less energy
• Equipment that results in less waste