Trends and innovations driving flexible packaging in India

InnoPack F&B Confex 2018

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flexible packaging
Shailesh Nema – country manager & director, Michelman India speaking at the InnoPack F&B Confex 2018

At the recently concluded InnoPack F&B Confex 2018 in Mumbai, held at Westin Hotel on 5-6 April, Shailesh Nema, country manager & director, Michelman India delivered a very interesting and enlightening presentation in which he talked about the trends driving flexible packaging and the benefits of flexible packaging. He also touched upon the challenges plaguing the flexible packaging industry in India.

According to Nema, the key innovations and trends in flexible packaging are improving barrier technology, downgauging or light weighting and advanced bio-derived and bio-degradable technologies. He stated that food packaging demands excellent barrier properties that improve shelf life and retain flavor and that coatings are preferred over films, which result in cost efficiency. Advancement in coating technology leads to less ‘return-to-vendor’, less wastage and less cost. It has also reduced processes and increased sealing speeds, he said.

Advantages of downgauging or light weighting are manifold, he argued. It results in less resource usage and greater cost efficiency, provides significant reductions in materials consumed and optimizes logistics costs.

Sustainability is another buzz word not only because of government regulations but also because of consumer awareness about environmental concerns. Greater focus on plastic waste management is leading to a gradual shift to mono material structures. There is use of plastics from the same family, there is less over-engineering and more optimized structures, he said.

Benefits of flexible packaging
According to Nema, flexible packaging has many advantages such as economical to manufacture, pack, preserve and distribute. It offers flexibility in designing barrier properties to suit the product, which results in innovative shapes, sizes and appearances.

In India, flexible packaging is still the dominant form of packaging with a size of almost US$ 6 billion. Nema said that the flexible packaging market is growing at 11% per annum and the growth is expected to continue because of factors such as move towards upscale packaging, expansion of organized retail and proliferation of online retail, among others.

Challenges
Although the flexible packaging industry is expected to see robust growth going forward, there are certain challenges that the industry needs to tackle. According to Nema, lack of regulatory clarity in packaging, rapid growth leaving little resources for innovation, insufficient consumer awareness of sustainable packaging and large unorganized market are some pressing issues facing the Indian flexible packaging industry.

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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– Naresh Khanna

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