Leading FMCG brands in India adapt to the new working environment

Food packaging during and post-lockdown

FMCG brands
Haldiram's is following all safety guidelines Photo: Haldiram's

Production of essential items like food, dairy, and beverages was allowed in India since the very start of the lockdown which came into effect on 25 March. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, leading food and dairy companies have had to change the way they operate their plants. Representatives from some of the leading FMCG companies talked about these changes in a webinar organized by Reed Exhibitions on 22 May. The webinar dealt with the issue of food packaging during and post-lockdown.

Ashok Tyagi of Haldiram’s said that all of the company’s plants have adapted to the new situation and employees working in these plants have to wear masks, maintain physical distancing, go through regular temperature checks, and sanitize their hands every half hour.

Haldiram’s has also been conducting regular training programs for its employees so that they understand and appreciate the logic behind these measures. It has also made changes to its plant layout so that physical distancing can be properly implemented.

“After following these rules for the last two months, we have adapted well to the new norms. It was much easier for companies like Haldiram’s because we have a very high level of automation in our plants and processes which means we have minimal human involvement. I feel in the post-lockdown world, the unorganized players will also need to focus on automation, as it will play a big role in the future,” Tyagi said.

Barun Banerjee of Nestle India said that his company too has been focusing on physical distancing and other safety measures during the past two months.

“All our plants have been up and running and are following physical distancing, conducting temperature checks of employees and making sure the packaging materials that arrive are safe,” said Banerjee.

Nestle India faced some issues in the delivery of packaging materials in the early part of the lockdown due to the disruption in transportations. However, this problem was sorted out soon.

“Yes, in the very early phases of the lockdown we did face challenges in supplies of packaging materials but the problem was sorted out soon with the help from the authorities. Since then we have been able to meet our volume requirements,” he said.

The new working environment has also made Nestle India look for raw materials locally that it now imports. “We have started to look for local suppliers for things that we are currently importing so that we can deliver our products on time,” Banerjee said.

Ramesh Ramchandran of PepsiCo India said that there is no extra risk involved with food packaging. And since there is now a greater awareness about COVID-19, the risks are even lower. He said that in the post-lockdown world, brand owners will focus more on smart packaging.

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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