Esko
Arnab Maiti and Chris Miller, president, APAC Esko at IndiaCorr Expo 2017 in Delhi. Photo PSA

At the Esko stand at IndiaCorr Expo 2017, Chris Miller, president, APAC, Esko, was busy interacting with customers. Packaging South Asia caught up with him to seek his views on the event and how he looked at the Indian market. “At this show we’re displaying both our digital finishing products—CAD design tool and Kongsberg X series digital finishing table—as well as our digital flexo plate maker,” said Miller, adding the company received excellent response at the event.

Sharing his views on the Indian market, Miller said, “We had our biggest year so far, last year; we grew by 50% and we are confident of repeating it this year too. From two people in Mumbai we now have seven people and we also have a new facility there. By the end of November we’ll have an open house at our new demo center in Mumbai. We also have our facility in Bengaluru and in Delhi we have gone up from one person to a team of three; we’ll continue to expand in Delhi.”

Miller also spoke of Esko’s product portfolio saying that the company has almost all the products in India that it sells globally. “The market here is transitioning like it has in other markets and with labor costs becoming more critical, the possibility of finding skilled people in such a niche industry is becoming difficult. Yet the difference between Esko and its competitors is that it has a larger and more fully operational setup in India with offices across different locations and personnel doing pre-sales, sales and after sales service and support,” Miller stated. He further asserted that Esko’s India team is self-sufficient with operations people, finance people, demo center and almost everything needed to run an independent profit center. “We’re not remotely managing it,” he added.

Miller feels that the packaging industry will have its ups and downs but over time it will continue to grow. Also, India, like many other countries, is saying ‘No’ to solvents and moving towards water-based solutions, flexo and other recycled material. He said, “We’ve been through that curve already in many other countries and we have the tools and technologies to help the packaging industry in India in this process. Automation can compliment a lot of the mundane tasks of workers and free them up for more creative jobs. This will eventually benefit the customer as more creative efforts will create better packaging. The idea is to get people into the thinking mode and let the computer do the routine tasks.”

The only challenge that Miller sees Esko facing is to ensure that the market absorbs its solutions well enough since there is so much on offer. “We have more solutions than most customers would ever want to try and take up at the outset. So our biggest strategy now is conducting workshops with customers and help them bit by bit on how to adopt the technology and become competitive in 6-9 months. When that becomes the new norm, we can help them solve their other problems. Over time, as our customer base grows, Esko also grows,” said Miller.

Packaging South Asia — resilient, growing and impactful — daily, monthly — always responsive

The multi-channel B2B in print and digital 17-year-old platform matches the industry’s growth trajectory. The Indian, South Asian, Southeast Asian, and Middle East packaging industries are looking beyond the resilience of the past three years. They are resuming capacity expansion and diversification, with high technology and automation in new plants and projects.

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 growing 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.

We target brand owners, product managers, raw material suppliers, packaging designers and converters, and recyclers. This is a large and complex canvas – the only thing that can work is your agile thinking and innovation together with our continuous learning and persistence.

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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