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The Smart Route To Packaging

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Leading packaging and processing solutions provider Tetra Pak, has taken packaging to a new level by taking Smart Packaging from a concept to reality in India. Smart packaging embeds every pack with a unique identity, allowing interaction between manufacturers, brand owners and consumers throughout the lifecycle of the pack. This the first time that Dynamic QR codes for liquid food packaging are being introduced in India.

India will be one of three Tetra Pak markets in the world to have unique PICCO printing technology for printing Dynamic QR Codes. Indian brand owners will now have access to a complete smart packaging ecosystem built around Dynamic QR codes which allows each package to be tracked, monitored and interacted with throughout the supply chain, creating new opportunities for efficient stock management, distribution and automation. It creates new and exciting opportunities for consumer interaction too. Saumya Tyagi, Marketing Director, Tetra Pak South Asia tells us more

Excerpts

You have launched the Dynamic QR codes for liquid food packaging. Can you tell us more about it? How does it help the brand and what are the new opportunities for the brand using this?

Dynamic QR code is what lies at the heart of ‘Smart Packaging’. It embeds every pack with a unique identity, allowing interaction between manufacturers, brand owners and consumers throughout the lifecycle of the pack.

This is unlike a static QR code, which allows only for the same code to be printed on all packs and leaving very little room for flexibility of use. A Dynamic QR Code, on the other hand, can take the user to different destination websites each time it is scanned. So, the same pack can direct the user to a list of ingredients one week, a promotional campaign the following week, and to addresses of a recycling centre the week after.

Smart packaging however is much more than just the QR code. With the launch of Smart Packaging in India, brand owners now have access to a complete ecosystem built around Dynamic QR codes. Tetra Pak’s digital package offer therefore includes three components: code generation and printing on packages, a secure cloud solution for managing the data collected, and a consumer-facing front-end in the form of an app or a microsite on the internet, or both.

The brands will be able to deploy this revolutionary technology in many ways. For example, they can use it to engage with consumers in a unique and personalised way, or to understand consumption patterns and unearth deeper consumer insights. They can use it to can make traceability more transparent and share information with consumers about ingredients right down to the farm that a product comes from.  They can even use it through the post-consumer recycling value chain by providing links to the location of the nearest recycling centre

How do you see Smart Packaging evolving? How muchof your revenues do you see coming from the latest smart packaging?

We are living in a ‘connected’ world today. Our phone can talk to our internet, which can talk to our voice-enabled assistant, which can talk to the devices in our homes, which can in turn even talk to a marketplace or retail store.

With 340 million smartphone users in 2018, projected to go to 440 million by 2022 with a 38% internet penetration, we can only imagine what a disruptive technology like Smart Packaging can do.

It can be used for consumer promotion, supply chain traceability, food ingredients traceability, packaging material traceability, consumer behaviour analytics and many other purposes. The possibilities are endless.

We are now in the pilot stage, and we are very excited about the potential of this technology.

Can you tell us more about the PICCO printing technology?

PICCO is a Tetra Pak solution that enables the printing of unique QR codes on every package, enabling enhanced consumer interaction and full traceability. PICCO offers customers both the printing and the data structure around each code. This is unlike the traditional solution where the same code is printed on a range of packages or packaging material. India is one of the 3 Tetra Pak markets in the world to be deploying this printing solution, and this is being hosted at our manufacturing plant at Chakan near Pune.

It’s been over 30 years that Tetra Pak has been in the country, how has packaging evolved in the country?

Packaging has come a long way since we entered India 30 years ago when it was far more basic and nascent. Packaging was essentially a solution to a problem – preventing food wastage and allowing transport. Today, packaging is a communication channel that is evolving faster than ever before.

At Tetra Pak, we have gone from 1 packaging format when we started our journey, to more than 25 variants today offering different packaging volumes, shape, sizes, functionality (‘drink from’ and ‘pour from’ experience) and evenvisual effects. In terms of the categories as well we have gone from operating in just white Milk and juices & nectars to opening up several new categories like coconut water, ORS, Dairy alternatives, value-added dairy, spirits and more.

And most recently, we have introduced smart packaging in India, which will add a whole new dimension to packaging and the F&B industry.

What were the challenges faced by Tetra Pak while building its brand in India?

When we entered India three decades ago, Tetra Pak was an idea far ahead of its time. It was a time when packaging itself was far more basic and nascent. But we were fortunate to have the support of customers who were also willing to partner us on this journey and build the market together.

We spent the first two decades diligently ‘seeding’ the market, investing in plant and equipment as well as awareness-building by working with stakeholders across the value chain. The biggest challenge really was to raise awareness about the power of the aseptic packaging and processing technology from a food safety and accessibility point of view. Today, we are at an inflection point, with increasing awareness about food safety, sustainability and a growing need for convenience and on-the-go consumption. This and many more such factors have contributed to Tetra Pak cartons becoming ubiquitous today. That said, if we look at the size of the F&B industry, we have only just touched the tip of the iceberg.

Innovation has been a hallmark for Tetra Pak. How has the packaging and innovation helped clients, in terms of savings, gaining market share, solving packaging issues etc?

Absolutely! Innovation is in our DNA, and that is what has helped us partner the leading brands in the F&B industry and support them through our integrated solutions across packaging, processing and services.

Globally we churn out about 10 innovations a year, and this is not just limited to packaging material. We have introduced 8 to 9 new variations in India in just last 2 to 3 years, including shapes, sizes, caps & closure, achieving higher speeds in packaging equipment and more.

On one hand, we help our customers deliver varied products from juices & nectars, dairy products like milkshakes, paneer, cheese, khoya, niche products like coconut water, ORS, breakfast drinks, spiritsand more to meet consumer needs. On the other hand, we help them stand out on the shelvesand deliver liquid foods in a safe, convenient and attractive packaging through different packaging formats. In addition, through our services business, we help them improve performance, optimise costs and ensure food safety throughout the lifecycle of their operation.

It’s really the overall value that we deliver to our customers through or integrated solutions approach.  With the launch of Smart Packaging, for example, customers can now customize promotional campaigns for consumers while the campaign is live, making it more effective. Similarly, through technological interventions like Predictive Maintenance, customers can avoid unplanned downtime, thereby helping reduce costs.

What is the market share of Tetra Pak in India?

First, it is important to understand that our business is rather unique. We are not just in the packaging material business, but also capital equipment and services for the customers’ plants, which makes us the only end-to-end solutions provider for the F&B industry in India today. This also means that our market is really the entire F&B industry. Given the diversity of the portfolio of solutions we offer and the uniqueness of our business, it is very difficult to determine the market share. All we can say is that we were the first to start seeding the Indian market 30 years ago, and we continue to stay ahead of the game with disruptive innovations like smart manufacturing solutions, new and advanced packaging formats, categories and flavors for consumers and now Smart Packaging.

How has been the growth for Tetra Pak? Looking ahead, what can we expect?

These are exciting times for the F&B industry and our customers, making it a great growth opportunity for us too. In packaging terms, we have been adding 1 bn packs to our sales every year over the last 2-3 years. Our processing business has had record sales and the services business has also shown strong double-digit growth.  Today, we have over 150 customers in India and have been adding more than 15 packaging customers every year for the past 3 years. In essence, all our businesses are growing at a healthy pace.

Going forward, we will continue to strengthen our business, riding on the growth of India’s food market which is expected to touch USD 540 billion by 2020 and has been growing at 12% annually for the past 5 years. F&B brands are looking to capitalise on this growth and increasingly looking for partners that can offer integrated packaging solutions. We are fully geared up for this opportunity.

Can you tell us name of the clients with whom you are bringing smart packaging to India?    

We are launching pilot projects with two of the biggest brands in the FMCG industry shortly. At this stage we will not be able to reveal the names for reasons of confidentiality.

 

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Simran Sabherwal

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