Why did you pick India as your first pitstop?
The first thing a company’s board asks you is how you will help the multinational firm grow in future. I, thus, wanted my first trip to be to India. The country has immense potential. As a company, we make food safe and that perfectly fits with India. We want to supply food to the remotest parts of this country where accessibility is a challenge. The profile of the new Indian consumer wants convenience which is aligned with our vision. We find Bengaluru’s startup ecosystem a great opportunity and want to build a connection. I want to understand the Indian consumer mindset and the unique retail model here to introduce new product categories. I believe that a company can effectively grow their business model in India by 4-5%. We are identifying 3-4 geographies globally where we want to put our resources and India is definitely one of them.
What was Tetra Pak’s sales growth in 2018?
We have a ten-year plan that we built from 2010-2020. We had set out to grow by between 4-5% net sales every year. Last year, we saw a small reduction. We grew by 2.4% globally. However, in India we have grown by over 10% last year. Our total turnover is about 12 billion euros. 2.4% is an achievement compared to many global companies that seem to be struggling these days. But we look to grow further.
Where does India rank for Tetrapak?
India is one of the 15th largest markets for us. The top three are China, Brazil and Russia in terms of total turnover. However, we need to rank India in terms of potential. It then ranks in the first five.
How do you look to grow in India?
Our research shows that we have 100 billion litres of liquid goods consumed in India. Less than 50% is packaged. We sell 35 billion litres of loose or street milk. That is the kind of headroom for growth in India.
The milk deficit in North-east part of India makes it a significant market for us. North Kashmir with severe winters is difficult for lose milk to reach. Army is also one of our biggest customers’ customer. Bihar and Odisha have limited milk supply. These are potential markets. Overall, the per capita consumption of milk is low and we want to drive it to a healthy level. Apart from these pockets, metros also showcase a high need for convenience. Other categories like juices and nectars are premium categories and have high penetration levels in Tier 1 cities and metros. Coastal areas are important markets too as the fishermen want packaged milk to prepare tea in the high seas. Roughly, 16 billion litres of loose juice is consumed on the streets of India. It is another packaging opportunity.
How different or challenging is India vs other emerging markets?
It is not less or more but uniquely challenging. The retail structure of India – 10% modern trade and 90% of mom-and-pop store trade – will not dramatically move in the next ten years. India is a continent with different consumption habits and different regional legislations. We need to be able to adapt to grow. We have been here for 35 years and we are still not achieving our target.
Give an insight into the current packaging trends.
Each market has a different consumption pattern that translates into the way products are packaged. US, Europe, India and China are uniquely different. US has on-the-go mindset where portability is important. So, they want small-size packaging. Europe puts focus on family size. India’s consumption has increased in the last four years and 70% of its packaging comprise portion packs of 200 ml and below.
What was the reason behind Tetra Pak’s decision to pick India as one of the first few countries to introduce digital packaging launched recently?
Digital packaging was launched first in China followed by India, Russia and Central America. With 70% mobile phone penetration, India emerged as the right country. A unique QR scan code will gradually feature on all our packs to gain information about the product and supply-chain for retailers and end-consumers. The QR code will help in promoting brand activities. In return, we will have gain the largest database of consumers in the world which will help our customers grow. We will give them database on trends and consumer habits. We have launched two pilots in India three months ago. Karnataka Milk Federation (KMF) in Bengaluru is one customer. The other is based in North India.
With many beverage startup companies using glass bottles and now Maharashtra state making it mandatory for companies using tetra pak and multi-layer packaging to devise a recycling mechanism for used packets, do you fear facing restrictions or getting banned like plastic?
About 75% of our packaging uses renewable materials. So, we have low carbon footprint. We have a strong proposition and can explain to the different governments on why we can be a very positive agent of change.
In India, we recycle close to 40% of our carton packages, a number high compared to other countries. Globally, we recycle about 20-25%. Europe stands at 50%. But we need to do more. It is not just a Tetra Pak job but an industry task. We are working with customers and main stakeholders to focus on recycling.
We support the government but want them to listen to us and work with us to drive this initiative. Developed markets have the infrastructure with waste segregation and collection in place. We request the government to strongly drive this initiative as this is in their hands. We cannot underestimate that we are doing enough for the environment. The biggest disruption agent we see in the future is sustainability. We invest 400 million euros in R&D every year. We have decided that most of that money would go into developing friendly-packaging than what it is today. We want to push the low-carbon circular economy.
Recycling is not really an answer; packaging must be biodegradable: Rhea Mazumdar Singhal, founder EcowareNews:
When Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged people to rid their homes and workplaces of single-use plastic by October 2, Rhea Mazumdar Singhal had reasons to smile. The 37-year-old is the founder of Ecoware, a biodegradable food packaging company based out of Greater Noida.
It makes plates, cups and bowls from agricultural waste such as sugarcane bagasse. The company produces over 1,500 tons of biodegradable material annually. It translates into 50 million products a year, which they sell to clients like IRCTC as well as restaurant chains like Haldiram and Subway. Companies like Bain and JP Morgan, meanwhile, use Ecoware products in their offices. Singhal spoke to Varuni Khosla about the green road ahead. Edited excerpts:
You started the company a decade ago. What are the challenges in this space in India?
When we were growing, there was no plastic ban, no Swachh Bharat Mission. We were going from company to company, asking them to try our products. When we started, our price differential with plastic was over 50%.
That is now down to 15%. We are still 40% more expensive than Styrofoam products, though.
I remember I was driving through Mathura once and ordered a parantha, which was served on a Styrofoam plate, and it literally melted into the parantha. Still it was very difficult to convince people to use our products.
Then we kind of changed the narrative — we went to schools and colleges and started talking more about how plastic products are bad for one’s health.
Is the demand for your products growing?
This year we are looking at Rs 15-20 crore in revenue. It is a good place to be in but we are severely constrained by capacity. Even if we have three or more factories, we won’t be able to meet the massive demand in India, which comes even from places such as Mysuru, Ranchi, Hubballi and Bareilly.
How big is the market for biodegradable packaging in India right now?
It’s difficult to determine the size of the market.
Any place that produces food is a potential client for us — be it someone’s home or a local thela that sells food. The problem is awareness. But the business we are in is such that demand exceeds supply by at least 3-4 times.
What was your initial investment?
We had our first facility in Dehradun with a capacity of about 200 tons. We have moved up to 1,500 tons now. We have gone from making 9,00,000 pieces in 2010 to over 50 million pieces in 2019. Our Noida facility cost about Rs 16-17 crore, including land, building and machinery.
In 2009, we put in about Rs 2 crore. We broke even around 2016-17.
The inspiration for the project came from my father-in-law, Sunil Singhal, a chemical engineer who works in the sugar industry.
He runs a sugar refinery and there was a lot of bagasse, the fibrous residue of sugarcane, which was used in the boiler and as cattle feed. We then did research and found that we could make products out of it it — that it was commercially viable.
What was your big break?
It came during the Commonwealth Games in 2010. They had specific requirements such as biodegradable material that was certified and we supplied such products to them.
What are you working on right now?
We are working on reducing plastic waste in ecommerce packaging by using different types of biomass. These can be put into a compost pit and will decompose within 90 days. Our latest line is made from paddy straw, which is burnt to clear farm land and causes severe air pollution in cities like Delhi.
India generates close to 26,000 tons of plastic every day according to the Central Pollution Control Board. What is a matter of concern is that over 10,000 tons of this waste remains uncollected.
Where’s your current business coming from?
Most of our business — about 60% — comes from QSR (quick service restaurants). We are exporting to nine countries now and that comes to about 20% of our sales. The rest goes to retail and ecommerce companies.
What about food aggregators?
They should do something about their environmentally unfriendly packaging. If the Indian Railways, which serves the largest number of meals a day, can move to environmentally friendly packaging, everyone should be able to. Recycling is not really an answer anymore; packaging needs to be biodegradable.
CHENNAI: In the wake of acute shortage of tinplate/ tin free steel material which is largely used to manufacture cans and containers to pack processed food and fruits, the processed food packaging industry is feeling a pinch.
The small players who are into the business of packaging of fruits and other processed food are not able to meet the demand of tin cans and containers. This is the season to process and package mango pulp however there is shortage of cans and easy open ends which is affecting the packing of mango pulp particularly for exports, said a Maharashtra based company engaged in Mango pulp packaging business.
The Maharashtra mango (Alphonso) pulp has a great demand worldwide. However the shortage of tin can has impacted the supply and the packaging both.
Another company which is into packaging of processed cheese has complained that there is suddenly a surge in price of steel and tin containers and availability is also an issue. Most of the companies who are manufacturing tin containers are small companies and could not meet the demand as we heard there is a shortage of raw material used in manufacture of cans. Not only the packed food industry but the other sectors which are the end users of the tinplate/tin free steel containers have also complained that they are not getting the required quantity of containers and whatever is available is expensive.
On July 17, 2020 the Government of India imposed a BIS standard for the import of tinplate/Tin free steel/ products like easy open ends, peel off ends etc. The implementation of the same has now been extended up to July 17, 2021.
A few exporters of tinplate from other countries have applied to BIS for getting the registration and approval of their plant but due to Covid conditions all such applications have been put on hold by BIS. This has resulted in virtual zero import of these essential materials thereby resulting in shortage of tinplate containers. Most of the suppliers from Japan, Korea have already indicated that no one wishes to travel to India for the BIS and BIS staff can’t move out of the country to go and inspect the plants of tinplate producers in those countries
According to the representation given by Metal Can Manufacturers Association, an industry body looking after the interest of can making (metal packaging industry ), to the Ministry of Steel , the country has a huge demand supply mismatch the domestic product is limited to 4 -4.5 lakh metric tons as against the total demand of 7 lakh metric tons. On an average 2.5 lakh tonnes demand is met by imports from Japan, Korea, China and other countries who are the bulk producers of tinplate/ tin free steel/ products like easy open ends/peel off ends etc.
The industry is ready to abide by the BIS standard and ready to adopt, however, at this moment it is not feasible for the global suppliers and even the government to speed up the BIS process. Although three leading international suppliers of tinplate/tin free steel have applied for the BIS however it’s been more than 4 months that there is no action on their BIS application., disclosed Sanjay Bhatia, president MCMA.
The industry which is the primary source of packaging for processed food, pesticides, paint and other allied industries and provide the employment to more than 100,000 people is stuck as neither the suppliers are ready to ship material to India without BIS certification nor there is enough domestic availability of tinplate/ tin free steel/products, said the MCMA statement.
Although an ambitious and what some might even consider a welcome change to India’s snowballing plastic crisis, the announcement has brought with it several questions.
The ‘Report on Single Use Plastics’, worked on by an expert committee constituted by the Department of Chemicals and Petrochemicals (DCPC), has categorised plastic products based on their environmental impact and utility — those found to have the lowest utility and highest environmental impact are recommended for a phase-out. These include thin carry bags (less than 50 micron); non-woven carry bags and covers (less than 80 gsm and 320 microns); small wrapping/ packing films; straws/ stirrers; cutlery such as foam cups, bowls; earbuds with plastic sticks; cigarette filters; small plastic bottles; plastic banners; among other products.
Interestingly, the report also mentions that on examining bans and other restrictions on plastic products issued by various State governments and Union Territories, the expert committee ‘noted that the guidelines lack uniformity and vary widely in different parts of the country’.
Where are the corporations? A cursory glance at the list highlighting the environmental adverse impact score of SUPs makes it evident that these are products being churned out by small and medium manufacturers. Larger corporations that mass-produced everything from furniture and bags to multi-layered packaging and bottles are missing.
Minderoo Foundation’s ‘Plastic Waste-Makers Index’, released earlier this year, reveals the companies that produce 90% of all SPU waste generated globally. The list includes Reliance Industries, GAIL India, Indian Oil Corporation, and Haldia Petrochemicals from India.
Packaging and EPR woes: Plastic packaging (flexible and rigid) contributes almost 60% of the total plastic waste generated, as a report from the Centre for Science and Environment finds. These include everyday products such as food wrappers, wrapping films, etc., but packaging waste hasn’t been listed for a phase-out.
The Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016 had proposed for these to be collected and managed in an environmentally sustainable way through extended producer responsibility (EPR) of the producer, importer and brand owner (PIBO). ‘Five years later, the EPR for plastic waste management remains only on paper, due to non-compliance by PIBOs and weak enforcement by authorities,’ states Down to Earth. ‘The Ministry’s assumption that the PIBOs will start complying now is puzzling.’
The expert committee’s report backs this, and states that the EPR concept in India is largely connected with litter and other environmental issues but has not even begun to be implemented. This is yet another missing link in India’s plastic ban policy.
Busting the bio-plastic bubble: Next come the infamous ‘bio-plastics’ and other compostable, oxo-degradable and oxo-biodegradable plastics — primarily used for grocery bags or carry bags. While you may feel a tad better opting for these bags rather than polythene ones, how ‘sustainable’ or ‘plastic-free’ they really are is an altogether different story. Remember, not all bio and plant-based plastics are biodegradable, and not all ‘green’ or biodegradable plastics are bio-based.
In addition, they require separate composting facilities created with specific environmental conditions. The Report mentions that the conditions required for the decomposition of compostable bags do not exist in India’s municipal landfills. Most importantly, compostable plastic packaging is not a blanket solution, but rather one for specific, targeted applications as a majority of compostable plastics are more expensive than conventional plastics, and not available in sufficient quantities in India. The recycling process gets impacted when conventional and compostable plastics are mixed.
The informal workforce: According to the Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), the plastics recycling industry in India employs over 1.6 million people and has more than 7,500 recycling units. It is a known fact that recycling has been managed by extremely small players, who employ elementary waste segregation processes and lack scientific know-how on waste collection, segregation, and disposal.
The plastic industry not only needs an upgradation of technology for mechanical recycling, as the Report mentions, but requires investing in educating these players, and providing them incentives to manage waste wisely.
Key in this list of players are the waste pickers — estimated to be between 1.5 million and 4 million. We need measures to improve the way they function. They need to be given ID cards, authorisations, incentives for their health, welfare, education, etc. If rules for source segregation and preventing the mix of plastics are enforced, it will go a long way in easing the lives of rag-pickers and making their job safer.
Worse, the pandemic has made the battle against plastic tougher — given the rise in PPE kits and disposable masks — but the war against SUPs has been going on for decades. Like every other segment of Indian society, we have the rules, but there is no implementation. The polluters continue to pollute, and the dump yards grow higher by the minute. Unless there is strong data to support which product needs to be banned and how to go about it, besides putting existing rules into effect, India’s plastic crisis will be far from over.
Companies seeking to automate their operations typically have two choices: a workhorse industrial robot, intended to replace human workers, or a defter cobot, designed for lighter work performed in collaboration with or in close proximity to humans. But a new category of robots, called sidebots, seeks to provide the best of both worlds.
Swiss company Wyzo claims to have developed the world’s first direct-drive pick-and-place sidebot, which it says can work side-by-side with human workers in the food and beverage, consumer goods, pharmaceutical, cosmetics, automotive, electrical, and electronics industries. The company says its namesake sidebot is 10 times faster than a typical cobot, providing up to 80 picks per minute. At 5.5 square feet and less than six feet tall, the Wyzo is six times more compact than a typical industrial robot. And thanks to sensors that can detect nearby human activity, it does not need to be surrounded by protective barriers.
Working at 2,000 to 5,000 cycles per hour, the Wyzo is best suited for medium-sized production batches, although users can boost capacity by combining several sidebots. It was designed with an intuitive human-machine interface and requires no programming or scripts to operate.
Store in the Box™ includes several of the company’s sustainable paper-based packaging solutions, allows stores to bypass traditional fulfilment centers and ship orders from local stores.
An innovative development from Greiner Packaging is revolutionizing the recyclability of cardboard-plastic combinations. Making sure that waste was sorted correctly used to be fully reliant on consumers playing their part. But now with K3® r100, the cardboard wrap and the plastic cup separate all by themselves on the way to the recycling facility. This makes the packaging solution ideal for recycling.
The company says its new flexible packaging solutions were developed in collaboration with Innotech’s R+D+I Centre, as well as EMSUR’s Saymopack and EMSUR SPO’s production sites in Valencia and Ballée respectively.
According to EMSUR, the EM-Full RFlex range replaces conventional duplex structures with monomaterial substrates to provide “excellent barrier and sealing properties” to the packaging.
It adds that its new laminate is aimed at fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) customers, who require packaging solutions for bags, pouches or Doypakcs with monomaterial compositions.
The barrier properties of the new range are apparently suitable for various product categories, including snacks, confectionery, coffee and tea, fresh and processed food, and home and personal care.
EMSUR further claims that the new range can be used as a packaging solution and recyclable alternative for food products that require BIO, Natural or Organic positionings.
In addition, the flexible packaging range will be available in transparent and printed film, with customers having the option of different varnishes, gloss, matte, or paper effects. The EM-Full RFlex range, it adds, is applicable to both rotogravure and flexographic printing.
The new range is also transferable worldwide to other plants in the EMSUR Group.
EMSUR says that its new flexible packaging range is part of its ongoing pledge to sustainability and reducing the environmental impact of its packaging, alongside its commitments to food preservation, availability, and safety.
Last year, EMSUR joined CEFLEX’s initiative promoting a circular economy model in the flexible packaging industry, which includes plans for collecting, sorting, and reprocessing post-consumer flexible packaging throughout Europe.
EMSUR also unveiled a compostable barrier bag in January 2020, responding to the demand for a two or three-layer barrier bag that is reportedly of sustainable origin and offers compostable characteristics. This flexible packaging solution was specifically designed for the coffee market.
At INTERPHEX NYC, WIPOTEC-OCS to Demonstrate Serialization & Aggregation Units Compatible with Its End-of-Line Checkweighing Modules
TQS-SP Serialization Unit & TQS-CP Aggregation Unit provide efficient, exacting pharma-mandated carton traceability, and can be integrated with company’s signature Electro-Magnetic Force Restoration (EMFR) weigh cells.
Convenience food has been a trend topic in the food industry for many years now. But after COVID-19 restrictions industry experts are of the opinion the pace of life will get busy or even busier as it was before and requires more convenience options. Consumers will expect timesaving, hygienic and adventurous convenience food, drink, and foodservice. In the next few years, brands will also be challenged to respond to new definitions of quality and sustainability of their products.