Huhtamaki to leverage digitalization to unlock sustainability

Huhtamaki’s approach towards increasing efficiencies of core business

Antti Valtokari executive vice president, IT and Process Performance

Finnish packaging giant Huhtamaki sees digitalization as an essential lever that will help the company achieve its ambition of becoming the first choice in sustainable packaging solutions, said Antti Valtokari, executive vice president, IT and Process Performance, in a recent blog. 

Digital technologies and data provide an important transformative driver for the food packaging industry,” he said. “Enabling us to make our core business more efficient, from operations to sales management, unlocking opportunities in the way we collaborate with our customers and suppliers and how we design our packaging to be smarter and sustainable.”

Digitalization can help the company in three ways:

  • Improving our operational performance.
  • Enabling us to serve our customers better.
  • Helping design for circularity through smart packaging with sustainability at its center. 

Valtokari said that Huhtamaki had set ambitious goals for digitalization in its 2030 Strategy – by 2030, it will have 100% of its production sites and equipment digitized and connected; have 100% of its worldwide customer transactions digital; ensure 100% of packaging has a digital identity.

Huhtamaki on improving operational performance – digitalization in production

The potential impact of digitalization is clear both in how the company organizes and how it runs operations. Digital improvements in its manufacturing units – such as the use of real-time machine data, preventative maintenance, and automated material flows – will lead to potentially significant improvements in inefficiency. The same initiatives will help continuously improve the sustainability of operations, Valtokari said.

Serving our customers better – digitalization in customer transactions

Digitalization will enable Huhtamaki to create added value for its customers as it will digitally integrate its customer-facing processes with those of the customers. 

“We see potential in building our digital capabilities to create a better customer experience for existing and new customers, whose transactions with us – from quotes and order confirmations to invoices – will be electronic,” he said. “Simply put, by digitalizing our activities, we will become the first-choice partner for many customers because we will be the company easiest to do business with within our industry.”

Exploring new business growth avenues at Huhtamaki – smart packaging

According to Valtokari, digitalization also touches on the design of smart packaging.

“At Huhtamaki, we foresee printed tags and codes that enable packaging to have a true digital identity to provide substantial added value,” he said. “One of the key values in smart packaging is the easy access to information on the raw materials used in the packaging, which facilitates easier recycling, customer engagement with the content and traceability of the origin of the product.” 

Smart packaging goes beyond printed tags, codes, and other potential features; it can unlock sustainability and contribute to circularity, he added. 

“Today, we are actively exploring our role in providing these types of digital services to our global customers in the future,” he said. “We see the future alive with possibility and digitalization playing a transformative role in our ability to deliver on our 2030 Strategy. The pace of change is accelerating, and we are excited about the possibilities this brings in terms of protecting food, people, and the planet.” 

The Covid-19 pandemic led to the country-wide lockdown on 25 March 2020. It will be two years tomorrow as I write this. What have we learned in this time? Maybe the meaning of resilience since small companies like us have had to rely on our resources and the forbearance of our employees as we have struggled to produce our trade platforms.

The print and packaging industries have been fortunate, although the commercial printing industry is still to recover. We have learned more about the digital transformation that affects commercial printing and packaging. Ultimately digital will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future.

Web analytics show that we now have readership in North America and Europe amongst the 90 countries where our five platforms reach. Our traffic which more than doubled in 2020, has at times gone up by another 50% in 2021. And advertising which had fallen to pieces in 2020 and 2021, has started its return since January 2022.

As the economy approaches real growth with unevenness and shortages a given, we are looking forward to the PrintPack India exhibition in Greater Noida. We are again appointed to produce the Show Daily on all five days of the show from 26 to 30 May 2022.

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