Can Uflex and the Chinese suppliers make an impact?

Liquid packaging solutions for smaller players and co-packers

Gable top cartons produced by Parkkons for local supply of milk and juice

Tetra Pak, with its factory near Pune in Western India, has hardly had any competition although in the past four years some Chinese suppliers have entered India which are mainly in the liquor segment, where Tetra Pak is also present. The only prospect of significant competition comes from the new Uflex liquid packaging project in Sanand, commissioned in the past month. Of course, Uflex still has to prove its technology and compete on cost and performance as well.

According to industry experts such as P Raghunath, the current growth of aseptic board packaging in India has perhaps doubled to 16 to 18% from what it was a decade ago. Current Indian consumption is estimated at approximately 12 billion packs annually compared to Chinese annual consumption of 120 billion packs. In spite of the current high growth, factors that have contributed to the relatively slow growth over the years, especially in comparison with China, are the high capital expenditure required in developing such projects (the Uflex project in Sanand is said to be a Rs 800 crore project) as well as the higher cost of the process and packaging, which raises the price of the end product.

There has been a lack of technology inputs and knowledge, especially for the smaller players in the food and beverage segments including milk and fruit juices. In addition, the raw material for the packaging material or laminate has to be imported in the main. There has also been a lack of penetration of this technology in the co-packing segment, which could be a way for smaller producers to pack their products without making a major investment in their own plants.

A Tetra Pak line at Surya Foods juice plant in Greater Noida. Photo: PSA