Cosmo Films on the pandemic, industry expansion, exports & sustainability

Interview Pankaj Poddar, CEO, Cosmo Films

Pankaj Poddar, chief executive officer at Cosmo Films Photo: Cosmo Films
Pankaj Poddar, chief executive officer at Cosmo Films Photo: Cosmo Films

Amongst the fourteen new film lines coming to India in the next three years is Cosmo Films’ polyester line from Bruckner. Naresh Khanna, editor of Packaging South Asia asked Cosmo CEO Pankaj Poddar to comment on the current economic situation, expansion, exports and sustainability. Naresh Khanna

Packaging South Asia – Please comment on the pandemic on two levels — the first on how it has been for the economy and the flexible film and packaging industry; and secondly, on how your company coped with it and what learnings it acquired in the past 14 months. How does the next year look and how do you see the economic recovery?

Pankaj Poddar – Packaging being part of the daily needs was not as much affected. That being said, while things were getting back to normal for all other industries with the passage of time, the second wave has caused even more disruptions in every business.

The packaging industry shall be in a better position to navigate in this crisis though it is also facing several challenges of costs going up, demand coming from only a few sectors putting pressure on price, labour issues and other operational challenges.

At Cosmo Films, we have seen this as an opportunity to take our business completely digital. Customers can now use our online ordering system to directly order the required categories and quantity without getting on a call with the salesperson.

We have acquired artificial intelligence competence and are working towards complete automation. We are in the process of moving towards newest version of SAP HANA, which is an in-memory, column-oriented, relational database management system for customers. Cosmo is rapidly progressing to take the business to a digital epitome.

In the post Covid-19 world, concerns around food hygiene could increase plastic packaging intensity. A change in buying behaviour will be seen and people would be seen shifting to eCommerce stores.

As a company, Cosmo Films is already supplying innovative packaging solutions which are recyclable and can provide a shelf life to food products. We have a complete range of labelling solutions, synthetic paper and lamination films too.

PSA – Please comment on the large expansion that seems to be coming in terms of film lines and flexible packaging capacity — will the market be able to absorb it and if so how?

Pankaj Poddar – With the kind of market we are in, any new expansion will be easily absorbed. Demand for new products are continuously increasing, and new production lines for different types of products are coming up all across the world. These expansions will not only help the whole industry grow, but will also help cap the increasing demands in the industry. Irrespective, Cosmo Films is expected to be least impacted as it is a niche player mostly supporting specialty projects of the customers.

PSA – How is Cosmo taking part in this large capacity building?

Pankaj Poddar – Keeping ourselves ahead of the curve, we have set up a new subsidiary – Cosmo Speciality Chemicals, which was established with a vision of acquiring the textile auxiliary market in India and abroad by providing the best and the most competitive products through innovations based on sustainable science.

We have already announced the commissioning of our specialized BOPET line by the next year. Speciality BOPET is a niche segment which caters to multiple application segments, with high margins and opportunities for import substitution as well as worldwide exports. The new specialty BOPET line shall be unique and a majority of the products made on the line would focus on sustainability and creation of a greener future as the key theme.

PSA – Please comment on the prospects of packaging and specialty film exports from India.

Pankaj Poddar – India is already an exporter of packaging and specialty films, but yes, there is indeed a large opportunity to grow further. The government will have to play a huge role in improving infrastructure and ensuring zero tax incidence on exports.

PSA – Please comment on the sustainability and recycling issues that the flexible packaging industry and consumer product industry are facing.

Pankaj Poddar – Every year, we see an increased outcry for sustainability and a reduction of the Carbon Footprint on social media, in world conferences and summits. While this has helped us understand the importance of a sustainable future, it has also led to several misconceptions about the use and recyclability of plastics.

Several solutions of Cosmo Films

Cosmo Films has come out with several solutions to help ease plastic recyclability. We are a focused polypropylene player and our films are made from BOPP and CPP. The two types of films could be used individually for single layer/duplex structures or in combination to form mono-material laminates without compromising on the aesthetics and performance of the pack. BOPP and CPP films also offer benefit of better yield and in turn less consumption of plastics and overall lesser laminate cost. Cosmo Films is working very closely with several FMCG brands to understand their needs, the needs of the consumer and is then helping them to develop easy to recycle packaging laminates for their products, without compromising the various functionalities that a particular packaging is supposed to provide.

The Cosmo Films heat resistant and barrier range of films are appreciated the world over and customers are rapidly replacing their old non-sustainable structures with mono material solutions provided by our company.

Apart from these, the company has also introduced a unique Synthetic Paper, which can be used as a replacement of wood pulp based paper in applications like certificates, mark sheets, menu cards, tags and more; thus helping reduce the cutting down of trees.

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As we present our 2024 publishing plan, India’s real GDP growth for the financial year ending 31 March 2024 will exceed 6%. The packaging industry growth will match the GDP growth in volume terms and surpass it by at least 3% in terms of nominal growth allowing for price inflation in energy, raw materials, consumables, and capital equipment.

The capacity for flexible film manufacturing in India increased by 45% over the past four years. With orders in place, we expect another 20% capacity addition in 2024 and 2025. Capacities in monocartons, corrugation, aseptic liquid packaging, and labels are grown similarly. As the consumption story returns over the next six months, we expect demand to return and exceed the growth trajectory of previous years. The numbers are positive for most of the economies in the region – and as shown by our analytics, our platform increasingly reaches and influences these.

For responsible and sustainable packaging, with its attendant regulations and compliances, there is significant headroom to grow in India and the region. Our coverage includes the entire packaging supply chain – from concept to shelf and to waste collection, sorting, and recycling.

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The coming year looks to be an up year in this region, and this is the right time to plan your participation and marketing communication – in our rich and highly targeted business platform with human resources on the ground. Share your thoughts and plans to inspire and mobilize our editorial and advertising teams!

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– Naresh Khanna (25 October 2023)

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Editor of Indian Printer and Publisher since 1979 and Packaging South Asia since 2007. Trained as an offset printer and IBM 360 computer programmer. Active in the movement to implement Indian scripts for computer-aided typesetting. Worked as a consultant and trainer to the Indian print and newspaper industry. Visiting faculty of IDC at IIT Powai in the 1990s. Also founder of IPP Services, Training and Research and has worked as its principal industry researcher since 1999. Author of book: Miracle of Indian Democracy. Elected vice-president of the International Packaging Press Organization in May 2023.


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