Backing the Future
(A report on the Australian Institute of Packaging's conference held in June 2010)
The theme of the Australian Institute of Packaging 2010 National Conference held in Melbourne in June was Back to the Future The Art and Science of Packaging. Two hundred and fifty delegates attended the two days of seminar sessions that had attracted packaging experts from across the world to give presentations.
Summarising the conference could spin off from many of the presenters but my offering is: -
Ø Sharpen the axe, pencil, attitude and focus otherwise you will go back to the past and oblivion and not to the future.
Most of the presenters agreed to allow their presentations to be put up on the AIP web site [www.aipack.com.au ] so this is an abridged version of some of the presentations and observations.
The imposing and historic Melbourne Cricket Ground was the venue for the event and people arrived well before the commencement time and took time to renew old acquaintances, otherwise network or visit the exhibitors that had stumped up significantly for a place to wheal and deal.
Almost on time the National President of AIP Craig Wellman welcomed delegates and presenters and gave an overview of the changes within the packaging industry since the last Conference in 2008. Light-weighting and new technologies were foremost but as Craig said almost everything that you touch in your daily life has been touched by packaging beforehand.
Gavin Williams CEO of the Packaging Council of Australia was the lead keynote speaker. [PCA is the industry funded "lobby" for packaging whilst AIP is individual membership graded by qualification and mainly comprises of packaging technologists]
Mr Williams took us back to the past when he advised that companies very big in the industry as close as twenty years ago no longer exist. As he said "continuity is not guaranteed" and the major change in global competition is driving structural changes right along the supply chain. Gavin was the first to use the terms sustainability and innovation but it was to be in the lexicon of almost every other presenter.
Empty packaging is crossing our borders at an alarming rate from lower priced Asian manufacturers. The volume has doubled to over three quarters of a million tonnes with a 330% growth of imports from China alone. Corrugated paper has gone from 15K tonnes to 120+ K tonnes per annum.
Mr Williams said that the basis of competition is lower cost and Australia will have difficulty competing but home made products are easier to supply and monitor. Food contact packages integrity is vital as health and safety is involved more so than in more inert products. Much evidence exists where overseas suppliers have agreed to a specification only to disregard them after production starts.
Retailers as brand owners have changed the buying patterns of packaging and as it is a very variable cost there is an expectation that more brand owners will revert to producing packaging in house. Reduction of costs is the main driver for this change focus as it does for sustainability forward movement. Williams said that Australia is well behind the future whereas in UK and EU countries are well advanced and were so ahead of regulation.
The salient message was that bad press is allowed to get free rein because the industry is not self promoting enough. None could argue that this is not true but not many are willing to come out in defence!
The first of nine international presenters Asma Siddiqi of Euromonitor International jolted us into reality when she said that Australia is hardly on the scale when measured against other countries but she did give an insight into trends that could help move us up.
The contention was that investing in "eco friendly" packaging only adds to the cost which would be aggravated by the fact that as demand slows costs rise. But the company predicts an improving economy that will increase demands and effect costs.
Liquid cartons are now being used for more solid products such as baby food and household cleaning products. Two major trends are advancing changes in packaging technology. Eating on the go and easy open for seniors packages are being developed, tested and launched with gay abandon. By 2011 30% of the population will be over 50 years of age.
Ms Siddiqi presented more market analysis than packaging technology but did leave many with good market intelligence.
Angela Nickless the Sustainability Communications Manager for Visy took us up to the first break in her usual bubbly thought provoking manner giving an overview of the industry but this time focusing upon development in PET as a packaging medium.
She indicated that health and lifestyle will be the movers and shakers for the next few years even as far out as twenty. Details of the Berocca package that has taken a supplement tablet to a drink, the Method laundry detergent pump bottle and Chanel footwear making a fashion statement were shown and discussed. Paper bottles and water bottles with in bottle filters and a novel but somewhat confusing pack for Soy Milk [depicts a cow's udder] were also highlighted.
Visy research shows that Australians are incredibly aware of environmental issues and as consumers are the drivers for change it behoves packaging manufactures to be in constant touch with trends.
An example of changing from glass bottles to PET was depicted. Eleven percent more bottles on a pallet 10% less pallets to satisfy an order and twenty six percent saving per litre on the shelf.
An audience member was overheard commenting PET can also prevent glassing during brawls or other disturbances.
Nigel Garrard President of Amcor Australasia took the lead for Keynote Session two immediately after the first refreshment break. Mr Garrard himself a recent acquisition to the Amcor stable told of the recent purchase of selected segments of Alcan Packaging which was made easier by the global financial crisis.
Entitled creating a new world of packaging the address took in the period since 1860 when the first paper mill was established in Australia, to the future. Much change has occurred in the last six months which leaves Amcor as a fourteen billion dollar company operating in 43 countries in 300 sites and a payroll of 45 thousand people.
Australasia is less important in the global scope but is still in the investment basket with new furnaces at the glass bottle plant and a new state of the art paper mill to be constructed at Botany. As well as the Australian outlay the only investment in any new construction in New Zealand is taking place with a new can making plant under development. An idea of the size of the paper mill can be had when it is declared that 830 forty foot containers will bring the paper making machine from Europe.
Africa is seen as the new frontier but before that the bid for the second largest plastics manufacturer in USA is in and waiting regulators approval. Alcan increased Amcor by 45% and by "clever sourcing of money" there was a saving of US$250 million made. But customers are aware of these savings and those to come from rationalisation so much executive time will be expended on defending customer demands for cost reductions.
Tobacco packaging is a major segment of Amcor business as it is number one in this and Flexibles on a global scale. China is a target for tobacco packaging as the economy grows and more disposable income is spent on "luxuries". The Amcor distribution business in USA was described by Nigel as "a culture like none I have seen before". There are 44 sites where all manner of consumables are handled. The sales people in Amcor Distribution get no wages but share in the profit. Telegraphing his punches Mr Garrard said "I would like to implement this scheme here".
Addressing sustainability Mr Garrard found that there was not a lot of understanding of the discipline in Amcor and it needs a lot of work but nonetheless the results are significant. Petrie Paper mill has switched to recycled water and leaves one billion litres of potable water in domestic supplies. [The program started in a drought and finished in a flood]
Mr Garrard stated that the number of reports and KPI needs and the plethora of government and NGO bodies involved simply add to confusion. [I have wanted to use this phase for years! --> An example of "The insular culture of Australian bureaucracy that diffuses personal responsibility"]. He then went onto reinforce the message from Gavin Williams that we must defend against consumer advocates. As he said packaging is not the problem but we are part of the solution.
Food wastage in developing countries is over 50% brought about by lack of packaging whereas here is about 5%. A simple thing like a cucumber when packaged in a MAP film has a shelf life of 28 days but the naked version will wilt and spoil in four.
Amcor has a new logo and it will be prominent from now on. [The Amcor name allegedly came from the owners at the timeà APM Mayne Nickless Containers OR other rubbish.]
Mr Garrard did not mention the Australian Packaging Covenant of which Amcor is a signatory which may have helped to calm the nerves of the next presenter Edward Cordner CEO of Australian Packaging Covenant
The new code comes into effect from 1 July 2010 and Ed Cordner reinforced that all companies that are going to be involved must sign a new agreement. It is not simply a roll over situation!
There will be much simplification in the APC and it is probably opportune as the quality of action plans have not improved. Also there has been a poor uptake of the Environmental Code of Practice for Packaging or the buy recycled thrust.
Growth in Packaging consumption is fairly static but recycling has increased since 2003 although demand for packaging materials decreased by 7.5% in the same period. This was also a period where the population increased by 10%.
Overall packaging waste has achieved a 49% recycling rate with a 29% reduction in material going to landfill. An exciting development is recycling of Foamed Expanded Polystyrene [EPS] where is has been reported that 200 tonnes has been reprocessed.
Packaging people are reminded that if all players do not achieve the targets voluntarily, legislation that could be as draconian as some in existence in Europe will follow as sure as night follows day.
Tony Mahar Director Sustainable Developments Australian Food and Grocery Council indulged in past glories as a Collingwood footballer before addressing his topic.
Kicking straight down the middle his message was succinct. AFGC supports the Australian Packaging Covenant. It is a low cost to encompass the requirements and as it is supported by both industry and Governments it is important to be involved.
He advised that the covenant has been quite beneficial to a number of the association's members.
On the matter of sustainability he stated "everyone wants something". Guess it is a matter of finding the middle ground and working toward a common end.
Lunch followed and delegates had a further opportunity to visit the exhibitors and not only chew the sandwiches but also the fat. After lunch the congregation divided into groups appropriate to their expertise or need for enlightenment.
Exhibitors interviewed were in the main satisfied with the number of delegates that had called by given that there was only limited time. One was critical that when lunch was delayed by session overrun the exhibitors had to suffer the deduction for the catch up.
Gerard van Risjwijk MAIP senior policy adviser NARGA was going to tell us what sustainable packaging is.
As expected by those who have listened to Gerard before he was more than controversial. His contention is that recovering used packaging made from materials that are not scarce is simply an exercise in futility.
He further expressed his opinion that definitions of sustainable packaging are designed to present a particular view. He encourages us to use the definition contained in the Bruntland Reportà
"Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. It contains within it two key concepts:
• the concept of 'needs', in particular the essential needs of the world's poor, to which overriding priority should be given; and
• the idea of limitations imposed by the state of technology and social organization on the environment's ability to meet present and future needs."
To add emphasis to his contention Gerard said 30,000 tonne of steel packaging goes into households but that represents only one percent of the three million tonnes recycled by industry. All of the steel packaging that will be recycled through kerbside recycling in the next 200 years will equal one days production.
He says that the only material that is commercially viable for recycling is paper.
Another bomb was thrown when he said that the Australian Packaging Covenant only gets one thing right. The packaging industry needs to explain itself.
He concluded by saying that the free market has a great record of sustainability.
Sigma Technologies sent Dr Angelo Yializis along to tell us about PLA film used in food and snack packaging particularly those that are treated to be high barrier by application of metal coatings.
He explained that in USA most PLA is manufactured from corn whilst in Australia the raw material most commonly used is sugar cane. Whilst PLA is close to PET in composition it is different but has the advantage of being able to be converted on the same machinery.
The clear film is easy to make and is safe for food but there is a problem with moisture, oxygen and carbon dioxide permeation. That is where the metallising of the film is needed and great inroads into the application have been made since the concept was conceived. But the market needs continue to outstrip the barrier capabilities.
Frito-Lay in USA has declared that by 2017 all potato crisps will be in packets made of metallised PLA.
There are still corrosion and micro cracking with aluminium coatings so the rush is on to get the chemistry right.
Chemistry is more likely to be linked to hospitals and the session about policies to redesign hospital packaging for the ageing population was well attended.
The Governments of Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria have gotten together to work out ways to address the problems arising from the introduction of shared services for food and linen services.
Carmen Rechbauer of NSW Health and John Rasa of Vic Health delivered the findings of the tri-state investigation. Over 65s is a growth industry with patients in this age group accounting for half the population of those needing to be fed in hospital.
Over 60% of the food dispensed is packaged and almost ever patient will have some difficulty opening a package. When you consider that this group of patients may suffer from arthritis, impaired vision, depleted muscle strength, an immobilised limb, or have an intravenous attachment or be in a semi reclining position in the bed it is no wonder there is concern.
In NSW alone there are 22 million meals served in hospitals so it follows that more than 11 million patients will have trouble opening the packaged food and as a result could be undernourished. Hospitals moving away from production of food in-house to sourcing from third parties have aggravated what was already a big issue.
The presenters mentioned the 2008 Garling Report [http://healthactionplan.nsw.gov.au/files/garling-report/E_Overview.pdf ] the recommendations of which lead to the investigation: -
Chapter 29 Food recommendations
Within 12 months, NSW Health should design and implement a policy which delineates clearly the respective responsibilities of Health Support Service staff, nursing and allied health staff (including clinical dieticians) with respect to all of the tasks associated with ordering and service of food to patients and consumption of food by patients, including monitoring an adequate food and drink intake by the patient. 1017
Health Support Services prepare (or have a consultant prepare for them) specifications for the packaging and containers (including covers and seals) used on hospital food, so that the packaging and the containers: 1018(a) comply with food standards; and (b) are able to be opened by frail, aged or unwell patients.
Dean Crossthwaite from Dulux Group [part of Orica] demonstrated with graphics and a metal drum the needs of package design and materials handling techniques to ensure that the workplace is safe and workers are not injured. The body consists of bones and muscles and other matter but for the purpose of our education muscles were mainly under focus. The body when used for manual materials handling of all types is a system of pulleys and levers and was graphically shown as a see-saw.
Muscle strength is in proportion to mass with the forearms being much more resilient than the shoulders but either can be damaged by incorrect work practices. The mid point through a contraction is when the muscle is strongest but many workers through ignorance or repetitious operations are doing irreversible damage to their body.
This is particularly so for the muscles in the lower back from where all the leverage comes when lifting. Picking packages from the floor and lifting above ones head is particularly hazardous. Mr Crossthwaite demonstrated that the oft held proper lift with the knees bent is not necessarily the best manoeuvre as the compression forces on the back joints are greater when the knees are bent.
He went onto discuss the methodology that can be used by Packaging Technologists in collaboration with Occupational Health and Safety experts to design the best package for what was described as the 95th % ile. Handles, tear tapes and all manner of handling or opening aids need to be considered in the overall context of the person who will be lifting or opening the package. An example was given where a shipment of 20litre drums imported from a country where the majority of the population have smaller hands had handles that the container unloaders could not fit into.
Ageing reduces strength and force both in the clasping with a full hand or pinch grip with the thumb and forefinger. For consumer packaging it is important to understand the purchasing demographics. Females and aged persons are most likely to be the opener of packages and as the former, even at a young age, have less grip strength and the latter have diminished ability it is futile to have young male testers determining if a seal or closure is user friendly.
Dean Crossthwaite encouraged packaging designers to take professional advice from an OH&S specialist.
Doctor W Bradley Fain from Georgia Tech in the USA took the podium and discussed what he and his research team have determined after much investigation.
Packaging is now a multi faceted field and covers storage, preparation and serving of food and many packages are hard to open. He said that consumers do not want to be reminded that they are getting old.
Ease of use is getting more important encompassing sensory, cognitive and physical requirements. They estimate that there will be a 40 to 50% growth in arthritis sufferers in the next 50 years.
Dr Fain mentioned arthritis simulation glovesà an article featuring him and discussing the study can be read at http://www.gtri.gatech.edu/casestudy/arthritis-simulation-gloves-aid-companies-designin
The final sessions for day one was about retail ready packaging covered in detail by three people from England, one of whom confessed to be a Pom!
Liz Hulbert Head of Replenishment Solutions at Tesco Stores stayed up late in the old country to give her presentation by video link. She talked about end to end supply chain solutions and how the new packaging styles referred to by many names but for our purpose will be Shelf Ready Packaging [SRP] can reduce costs.
It could be argued that the final outcome is to turn humans into machines for they are expected to recognise a product in two seconds and open it in another five and then place it on the shelf and clean away any unsold product on the shelf and euthanize any packaging material removed during the filling session.
Nicely called one-touch replenishment two cases deep the packaged goods come on purpose designed roll pallets that when empty can be collapsed in two seconds. The benefits enunciated are increased availability, simpler replenishment and stock control and an improvement in product presentation on the shelf.
Packaging specifications although not addressed in this session are obviously quite exacting. We saw photos of cartons with symbols rather than word descriptions and under the heading easy to dispose the criteria that dissimilar materials must not be joined or glued together.
Sales have increased by 35% with a 17% reduction in waste and a 1% increase in availability since SRP has been introduced. Before SRP wastages as much as 28% for vegetables and 23% for sausages were expected.
Equipment solutions have added significantly to productivity. Cooperation between the retailers and the bakeries allowed for an industry standard single basket to replace five different types and sizes. Standard baskets in standard wheeled trolleys are now used. Tesco have also developed a wheeled pallet that combines the features of a standard pallet and a pallet jack. One piece of equipment has replaced four and saves five minutes per unit load.
One hundred products are currently delivered on these pallets and by December 2011 the target is 2000.
James Tupper of IGD who had managed the video link then took over to explain how to get the basics right, get on sale and get it sold using SRP systems.
James who examines and reports upon SRP systems and advised that many or the systems introduced around the world are not fit for purpose. The main reason is that complicated applications have been made without in store testing.
As if playing to James' lead Simon Reeve of Coles fessed up to having inherited a system not fit for purpose when he emigrated to Australia to fix Coles' problems.
Simon relayed a story about lumberjacks that gave the start of my summary. He also laid bare his soul and said about RRP at Coles: -
Ø Stores don't use it
Ø It was poorly designed
Ø There is mixed supplier support
But he did say that smart suppliers are ahead of the trend and there is genuine competition amongst the retailers. He believes that SRP will be catalyst for reduction of supply chain costs.
Coles is about 20% ready for a proper introduction of SRP.
It will be a pity if in the breathing space that implementation of the rest gives, that either Coles or Woolworths takes a chance to alter the shelf depth. If the several retailers in England can get an industry standard bread system why can two Aussies make life easier for the people upon whom they rely for supply?
The Conference Dinner was held later in the evening when a number of presentations were made and an enjoyable time was had by all. The entertainer showed that by sleight of hand almost anything is possible!
Loretta McCudden an Innovation Consultant jolted the audience into day two by having them participate in delivering the message. She asked everyone to write on a piece of paper what it was at their work or private life that stopped innovation.
Her target was to define and demystify innovation, determine the barriers to innovation culture and the behaviours that can deliver or stymie innovation.
The definition of Innovation used by Loretta wasà insights and ideas plus impact equals innovation. She said that tests prove that many businesses do not understand innovation.
Innovation is the habit of continually doing things in new ways to make a positive difference to our lives.
By simply asking WHY anyone can become creative and those who are innovative are able to move to expansive thinking.
There was a similarity in the responses from the audience that indicated people are uncertain of how suggestions will be received or simply do not have clear directions about company policy.
Attitude whether individual or collective coupled with skills, the environment and company structure is the innovation catalysts. Addressing the environment Loretta said "grey walled offices lead to grey dull proposals."
Nurturing ideas will lead to innovation but shutdown remarks will destroy peoples' prestige and lead to non involvement in creativity or innovation. The final message was look for barriers and beware of your own attitude but celebrate acts that are creative.
Keith Chessell FAIP Packaging Technical Specialist Cadbury came along to give a brand owners' insight into the integration of sustainability into packaging design. He commenced by telling us that Australian Consumers are confused with mixed messages and definitions abounding but the company is intent on doing all things in the name of sustainability.
Cadbury has always used purple for its packs so a program purple goes green was introduced to attack waste in manufacturing. Energy and water saving programs are delivering triple bottom line results. The company has endorsed Fairtrade [http://www.fairtrade.com.au ] and raw materials will be sourced from farmers that are engaged in the program. It is anticipated that over one million farmers will be signed up over the next ten years.
After much customer research the staple Dairy Milk package was changed and the materials now used are more sustainable than the ones previously used. But increasing on pack information required to satisfy regulators is an increasing problem as a package has limits on size if the regulators demand a certain font.
If you think life is easy try to get your head around the demand of the ACCC that considers a breach if a chocolate wrap is marked as recyclable but the council where it is sold does not accept the material in the recycling bin.
Seasonal products that are generally purchased as gifts need special packaging and one would imagine that packaging designers walk a tight rope when considering changes. The Freddo Frog display pack was reengineered recently and not only was 18000 kg of packaging material saved the new pack improved pallet utilisation by 62%.
Bioplastics are part of the future at Cadbury but according to Keith Chessell there are many uncertainties.
Rod Evenden General Manager Private Label at Woolworths gave a no holds barred account of the company's sortie into Retail Ready Packaging and then concentrated on his specific task of Private label.
"Woolworths ran at a million miles an hour then found they had made many errors". RRP is still company policy but is being taken more slowly. Unfortunately the discouraging message was that the shelf depth is narrower than Coles which will give manufacturers and brand owners apoplexy!
If only it was as simple as Ron's suggestion "make for Woolworths size and it will fit Coles not the other way round"
Quickly changing the subject Mr Evenden got into the meat of the subject and said that his criteria for Private Label is best quality product at best quality price. Woolworths introduced Home Brand 31 years ago but did nothing of substance until 2005.
In the United Kingdom and Europe retailers have been continually developing private label but Woolworths stayed with Home Brand until a few years ago when a new interest arose.
Here in Australia Aldi is number one for private label with Woolworths much lower on the totem pole. Depending upon the inclusion of fresh produce Private Label in a Woollies outlet is between 10 and 20%. Home Brand covers 400 products but newer private labels are being introduced with a clearer understanding of consumers' wants and needs.
Ron is a customer buying agent who has no key performance indicators but a number of mistakes of the past not to repeat. Home Brand bought at a price to suit customers and the quality sometime reflected that; also the easily identified packages made customers ashamed to show their purchase. The graphics also delivered a very ordinary message and attempts at adding product photographs alas did very little to lift the image.
Now the focus is on moving up in quality and distinctive packaging that mirrors traditional brands. There is evidence of better customer acceptance and as newer products and graphics hit the shelves acceptance is expected to grow.
SELECT brand is benchmarked against leading brands but carries a clear Woolworths logo on the package. The introduction of products catering for allergy sufferers and the growing appetite for organic produce is coming as a private label product.
To make it all happen the company has introduced a Quality Kitchen and has a very large focus group to ensure that the best product will be in the private label section of the Supermarket.
The basic principle of the company is to source all products locally but sometimes importing is the only avenue of supply. Then a strict protocol on quality and safety and employee conditions are set down and agreed upon before the contract is granted.
Hard to believe was the advice that twelve  Australian Manufactures were offered a supply contract but not one replied. However a number of them were later critical of Woolworths using imported products.
The pricing criteria for private label was displayed and compared with major brand costings. Initially private label pays more for the product due to smaller volume but the other ingredients of the package [and the supply chain] are cheaper leading to a significant saving at the point of sale.
Mr Evenden concluded with advice that he is totally committed to the Australian Packaging Covenant.
Karl Forsyth of the Australian Wine Research Institute sounded a warning bell for the wine industry when he advised that in Australia we need to pull about one third of the grape vines. In Europe there is a 20% oversupply and that is after one billion bottles of wine were distilled into motor fuel.
The wine industry is highly reliant on technology and has to continue look for new products and technologies to reduce costs and improve quality. He likened the opportunities to Facebook that has only been in existence for a short time but has four billion customers. All due to technology! If Facebook was a country it would be the third largest population in the world.
The LCA, maintained by The Australian Wine Research Institute, allowed Taylors Wines to define an accurate total carbon footprint and subsequently work to minimise emissions prior to off-setting the balance. To assist with the reduction of emissions, the O-I Lean + Green™ lightweight bottles that are 40% lighter than normal bottles reduces CO²e per bottle by more than 15%.
Marketing of wine is particularly important and perception is very important. In America a research company mocked up two newspaper articles one saying that USA was the biggest market for Australian Wines and the other said Australian wineries were the greatest innovators in the world. Consumers entering the shop were randomly given a copy one article. Those who read the former bought American wines and those reading the latter bought Australian.
The finale of Karl's address was to examine the difference in the life cycle analysis of a flexible wine pack [Astropouch] and two standard bottles to have the same contents of 1.5 litres. The flexible pack won the day!
Andreas Schweiger came from Germany to represent Rofin and talk about easy opening and perforation solutions through laser processing.
The mystique behind laser technology was made clear with a series of short video clips and a few visual aids and sample packages. Laser technology is very much to the fore in packaging as most plastic bags containing salad mixes are subjected to perforation and scribing. The former provides a panel indiscernible to the naked eye that has perforations allowing the still living contents to breathe, and the latter to assist the consumer to easily tear open the package. Above all there are no chemicals involved in the process. The laser used by Rofin operates on CO2
Lasers can mark most plastics, metals and glass or even scribe the top layer of a multi-layer package. One of the samples was a green coloured package that had been scribed at the right hand top corner for ease of opening. The scribe mark was silver indicating that the barrier layer was aluminium.
On his way in and out of Australia Andreas would produce a passport that has the number scribed through every page. Most would consider that these are made with a mechanical press but no; it is done by laser and has reduced counterfeiting.
Many daily use packages are treated with lasers to improve functionality and marketability of product and a problem identified during the conference seems to have a solution in laser technology. By scribing closures the opening will be easier for the growing population suffering from arthritis or other conditions.
Brad Teys MAIP Managing Director of Snapsil Corporation gave a rapid fire overview of the development of Snapsil but audience members did not need an introduction to the product. On day one delegates tables were inundated with Snapsil packs of mini mints and for those who got addicted there was an unlimited supply at the company's exhibition stand.
Mr Teys explained that he was having a coffee and found that the packs of sugar were not user friendly and thought of a package and spoon combination. From there the development was obviously as rapid and dynamic as Brad himself.
On the go lifestyles and one handed opening made what was developed a certain winner but there has been much research and development to get products to the market. Brad uses terms like Innovative Horsepower and to succeed you need to be able to make instantaneous decisions.
What is in the market place is a portion control in a single use snap open container. The range of Snap'n Dispense packaging caters for a broad variety of applications where precise volumes of powders, granules and tablets can be easily dispensed.
One of the stalwarts of AIP George Ganzenmuller was a late entrant to the speakers' panel when Martin Johnson of Amcor Fibre Packaging fell ill.
George used a word that had been bandied by almost every presenter when he advised that there needs to be a holistic approach to sustainability. At Amcor Fibre Packaging he is driving the development agenda. Packaging is only about 1% of the total impact on agricultural produce although difficult to comprehend when one considers that each gram of milk in a container takes 40 grams of packaging. So that is where the holistic approach is needed and a full life cycle analysis will indicate that packaging only has a toe in the carbon footprint.
Twenty years ago bananas were exclusively in wooden boxes but now there are experiments with smaller point of sale retail ready packages. Frozen meat used to be in solid fibreboard boxes but new technology allows for fibreboard boxes of E flute configuration to protect the product through the supply chain. Surface treated fibreboard now replaces wax dipped cartons.
Amcor Photo SureFresh™ combines superior strength with premium product appearance at point of sale. These new generation fresh produce cartons are alternative to returnable plastic crates, expanded polystyrene (EPS) and some non-recyclable wax coated trays.
Indications are that Amcor Fibre Packaging products are in the main compatible with the demands of retailers for Shelf Ready Packaging.
Chris Mooney Managing Director Planet Green Corporation talked about Reverte ™ technology. This is a Masterbatch additive that assists biodegradability.
Mr Mooney advised that the oil used for plastics production would otherwise be flared off and that 70% of oil is used in transportation.
His message was that using biodegradable packaging is good for the environment. He contends that as the public has accepted Reduction, Reuse, and Recycle that using Reverte ™ is an insurance policy.
Delivering the negative side for non biodegradable plastics he told of 46K tonnes of plastics being islanded in the oceans and that equates to 6 kg of plastics for every kg of plankton and that more than one million bird deaths are contributable to plastics.
The message was that biodegradable film as a result of the addition of Reverte ™ breaks down slowly at a rate similar to woody materials but importantly does not leave smaller pieces of it but completely disintegrates. Also if discarded carelessly it will not remain as a long term visual pollutant.
The technologists in the room had some issues to debate with Mr Mooney but your correspondent was needed elsewhere.
After a long two days the final keynote session commenced XOT [exactly on time] and Thomas L Schneider Vice President of World Packaging Organisation [WPO] was the first of two American guests to close off the Conference.
Mr Schneider, although from Texas, was brief in his address but delivered advice that AIP has been accepted as a member of WPO. He went onto say that "AIP is shoulder to shoulder to any similar organisation"
WPO is an "umbrella" for organisations similar to AIP throughout the world and promotes "a better quality of life through better packaging for more people"
Tom Schneider said that Africa is a developing continent where WPO will assist packaging institutes to become viable and promote packaging. Throughout the conference Mr Schneider was noticeable at many sessions and praised all presenters and the organisers.
Dr Mike Okoroafor Vice President, Packaging R&D Innovation, at HJ Heinz Co USA corralled the audience and wrapped up the two days with a stirring address entitled leveraging the power of innovative packaging to drive brand value.
He has been at other fortune 500 organisations before H J Heinz and showed a graphic of some of the products that he masterminded and along the way collected 35 patents. Mike stated that the Space Shuttle is not innovative, it is just advanced technology.
Leveraging the power of innovative packaging to drive brand value is as simple as knowing that "to the common things uncommonality will bring success" but you have to learn to understand the package. To do this you uncover unarticulated needs and wants.
The economic recession has not markedly effected eating but consumer fragility is still fashionable which has put leading brands at the crossroads. During the first keynote address Asma from Euromonitor mentioned dipping and squeezing ketchup but it was Mike who brought it to life with a video showing the new product.
If you like to dip your French Fries as you eat you open one end of the package but if you want to have more ketchup you open the other end and squeeze. [One wonders how much ketchup never gets used. Like white out where the top left off means it becomes unusable]
We learned that H J Heinz has its own tomato seed and many other things including the difference between Brand Value and Badge Value.
Whether the AIP has brand value or badge value is a debate for another time.
Pierre Pienaar the new National President of AIP closed off the Conference and thanked all delegates and presenters for their attendance and attention and enjoined all to assemble at the Gold Coast in 2012 for the next Conference.
Composed by Michael B Halley FAIP
Saturday, 19 June 2010