A new “dating-platform” for packaging machinery shows: Digital transformation in the packaging industry is taking shape

A new “dating-platform” for packaging machinery shows: Digital transformation in the packaging industry is taking shape

Thomas Reiner | 11.06.2021

The lights for the platform economy have been green for quite some time. Its promise of removing intransparency and inefficiency from the market is unbeatable. In the foreseeable future, therefore, large parts of the industry will move towards a platform economy. The only thing that is surprising is that so little has been done so far – especially in the mechanical engineering sector.

With Packpart, one of the first start-ups in this realm is now on its way. Its platform links project enquiries from customers with the know-how and offers of mechanical engineers, similar to a dating plattform. At the heart of the platform is an automated, digital matching system. It will be launched in the chemical, pharmaceutical, cosmetics and food sectors.

The platform’s promise: it simplifies the search for a suitable packaging machine manufacturer, reduces the effort for customers as well as suppliers and optimises the result.

 

How the “dating platform” works

  1. Customers start a project and specify their individual requirements for the packaging machine. An interactive list of questions guides them through the process. The information is directly transferred into a prepared, digital specification sheet, which is available for the remainder of the project.
  2. The information is automatically matched with the performance spectrum of the registered machine manufacturers. At the end, the customer receives an overview of the manufacturers that best fit his requirements.
  3. From the overview, the client selects the manufacturers to whom his project enquiry is to be forwarded. The transmission is anonymised.
  4. If necessary, the contacted machine builders obtain additional information about the project via the operators of the platform. If they are interested, the manufacturers receive the customer’s contact details and contact them directly.

 

Precursor of a profound change

The start-up Packpart is based in Rosengarten, Baden-Württemberg. The region in southern Germany is a centre of mechanical engineering. Founder Christian Baumann has recognised the signs of the times. His dating platform is the harbinger of a profound change that will affect the entire industry. Platforms bring transparency and efficiency to a market that is still far too often dominated by the opposite, especially in the packaging sector.

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Packaging needs a diet: Over 75% of consumers are fed up with oversized packaging

Packaging needs a diet: Over 75% of consumers are fed up with oversized packaging

Thomas Reiner | 09.03.2021

Too big and too much – three in four consumers are fed up with oversized packaging and demand a diet. The results of a recent e-commerce study by Mondi also show clear majorities in favour of sustainable packaging. Around one in two consumers are willing to pay extra – under certain conditions.


 

Too big to fail? On the contrary! Goods that are oversized or packed with too much non-functional packaging have it increasingly difficult. According to a quantitative study by Mondi across five European countries, 79 percent reject oversized packaging and 73 percent reject too much packaging.
Consumers also attach great importance to sustainability. This is important for an absolute majority of 80 percent. So the pressure on the packaging diet continues to increase, not only in e-commerce. What is exciting is that more and more consumers are willing to walk the extra mile. Around one in two are willing to pay more for sustainable packaging – but only if it meets the requirements for product protection, circulatory capability and ease of use at the same time.

Online commerce, sustainability, customer requirements
Mondi conducted its study together with the opinion research institute Karmasin Research & Identity. A total of 3,052 consumers were surveyed on online consumer behaviour and packaging requirements: in Germany, Austria, Poland, Romania and the Czech Republic, although the results do not differ significantly across the countries.

The key findings:

  • Almost one in two consumers has been shopping more and more frequently online since Covid started.
  • The most common customers are young women.
  • The most frequently ordered products are clothing and shoes, drugstore and perfume articles, books and electrical appliances.
  • 80% of the total respondents place greater emphasis on sustainable packaging.
  • More than half (57% in all countries, 48% in Germany) are willing to pay more if the requirements for the protection of the goods and easy handling are guaranteed.
  • The majority rejects oversized packaging (78%), cumbersome disposal and recycling (78%) and too much packaging (73%).
  • The most positive assessment is for easy opening and easy re-use (42%).
  • Corrugated board (57%) dominates material perception in terms of sustainability.

Maintaining new opportunities through sustainability, circulatory capacity and moderation
Pressure continues to mount on brand owners and retailers to review and rethink their existing packaging. Less is more, especially when it comes to packaging. However, only if functionality and convenience do not suffer and the sustainable solution is recyclable. If you can reconcile all of this, the development offers first-class opportunities for differentiation – not only in online retail.

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Although digital transformation is seen as top growth opportunity for the packaging industry, there will be few winners

Although digital transformation is seen as top growth opportunity for the packaging industry, there will be few winners

Thomas Reiner | 02.03.2021

A survey of 270 packaging industry executives by B+P consultants shows that 77% of companies see digital transformation as a growth opportunity and expect relevant sales of digital channels soon. That’s great. However, there will be few winners and many losers. The majority are ill-prepared. Although it‘s clear where the digital key lies.


 

B+P-Consultants conducted a survey among 270 executives in the packaging industry in Q4 2020. It shows that an overwhelming majority of 77 percent of the industry sees digital transformation as a growth opportunity (for machine manufacturers it is even 89%). That is a great thing. The fact that a whopping 70 percent already expect relevant sales via digital channels by 2025, i.e. more than 5% of their sales, could also be a positive sign. However, one has to ask what this optimism is based on. Because in most cases, the fundamentals are missing.

A large part of the industry is ill-prepared for the change and is lagging far behind digitally. That is why there will be only a few winners of digital transformation among companies in the packaging industry – and many losers. Very few will be able to generate around 5 percent or more of their sales through digital channels by 2025.

It can be assumed that the turnover generated online will be concentrated on the few winners in the future. And here especially on those who have recognised the importance of digital platforms. Digital platforms enable disruptive dynamics. They dissolve old structures and business models in order to fundamentally redesign them. And they allow direct and knowledgeable access to the target group. For example, customer wishes and needs can be recognised and served at an early stage.

 

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Circular economy becomes an ethical postulate. The packaging industry‘s in a bind

Image source: freepik.com – pressfoto

Circular economy becomes an ethical postulate. The packaging industry‘s in a bind

Thomas Reiner | 18.02.2021

The packaging industry is getting pressure from all sides. This is confirmed by the recent Trend Study 2020 by the Otto Group. Regulators here and consumers there are sending demands and requests for more ethics in products and services. At the top of the list: Circularity. In the short term, pressure creates forced movement in the form of reaction. In the long term, we need movement through action: acting on our own convictions.


 

Ethical consumption has established itself in the German mainstream and continues to differentiate itself. Recycling, circular economy and climate neutrality play a prominent role. This is shown by the recent Trend Study 2020 by the Otto Group.
The industry is in a bind. Pressure from regulators on the one hand and pressure from consumers on the other. The pressure forces a short-term reaction and thus also generates short-term movement. In the long term, this should not be enough. Change can only take root if as many companies as possible act out of their own conviction.

The Otto Study: Ethics and the Circular Economy
For the trend study, the large German retail and service company surveyed 1,149 Germans between the ages of 14 and 70. The central result of the survey conducted by the market research institute Bonsai GmbH in October 2020: Ethical consumption has established itself in the mainstream of Germans and continues to differentiate itself.

  • 82 % are prepared to follow the path from a throwaway society to a circular economy and are in favour of more durable products and higher material efficiency.
  • 70 % describe ethical criteria as an integral part of their purchasing decisions. In the last survey in 2013, this figure was six percentage points lower.
  • 63% are willing to pay more for climate-neutral products.
  • 60 % can imagine paying the “true cost” of environmental pollution and climate change when shopping.
  • One third have spent more money on ethical consumption in the last one to two years.
  • 20% say they are even more conscious of buying ethically since the Corona crisis.

The top 7 of the ethical list

  • Products that are produced in an environmentally friendly way (82 %)
  • Products that come from humane working conditions (82 %)
  • Products that produce less packaging waste
  • Products that are recyclable (81%)
  • Fair trade products (81%)
  • Climate-neutral products (77%)
  • Particularly durable products (67%)

Circular economy, recycling and packaging
These three factors have earned a firm place in the ethical canon of consumers. The times when only a small, particularly environmentally conscious target group needed to be satisfied are a thing of the past. The regulatory activities of recent times also bear witness to these firmly anchored consumer desires.

The industry is caught in the pincers of regulators and consumer:in. It is to be hoped that the industry’s reaction will not be limited to self-defence. In the long run, it should not be enough for us to release pressure through short-term movements. We should become ethical persuaders who push their actions out of our own conviction. Anything else would be a missed opportunity – which is likely to take revenge at all levels.

 

 

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Paperisation of popsicles. Is all that glitters gold?

Image Source: Unilever – BEN & JERRY’S

Paperisation of popsicles. Is all that glitters gold?

Thomas Reiner | 09.02.2021

Unilever is launching a new on-stick version for the best-selling flavour of its Ben & Jerry’s brand. The paper-based and recyclable packaging targets a precisely defined market segment. Clever! Overall, the market is moving in a clear direction. But important questions remain that apply to all paper-plastic composites.


 

The renaissance of paper is more than a renaissance. Step by step, paper is conquering areas of application that were previously the domain of plastics. Unilever is also going down this path for its Ben & Jerry’s ice cream brand. The new on-stick version of the best-selling flavour Cookie Dough will soon be launched in a paper-based and largely recyclable packaging.

Customers can now enjoy the new on-stick version of Cookie Dough on the go. The new packaging fits perfectly with the public perception and the self-portrayal of the Ben & Jerry’s brand, which positions itself as “fairer” and “more sustainable”. It is therefore clever and logical that Unilever offers its new, paper-based packaging to a target group that is particularly sensitive to sustainability issues. But is all that glitters really gold?

Unilever’s design and strategy
The Cookie Dough Peace Pops are attached to a wooden stick and come in packaging that, according to the company, is made of up to 88 per cent paper and is largely recyclable.

Ben and Jerry’s is trying to tie in with its sustainability strategy with the new packaging, which already uses 40 per cent less plastic in its classic ice cream tubs, which is also supposed to come from a renewable, plant-based source.

Across products, Unilever aims to halve the use of virgin plastic by 2025 as part of a global commitment to make all packaging reusable and recyclable or compostable.

Open questions on regulation and recyclability
In its sustainability efforts, the market is moving in a clear direction. Paper is the favourite. But at what point is a paper package a paper package? Is 88 percent enough or does the missing 12 percent become a stumbling block?
The question arises as to the actual recyclability. Theoretical 88 percent ultimately may help no one. The regulators will play a decisive role in this question. How will they assess composites made of paper and plastic? The question remains open for the time being. But it would not be surprising if good is not good enough in the future.

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