What markets do you operate in?
Erik Lindroth, sustainability director, Tetra Pak Europe and Central Asia: We supply packaging and processing for consumer food and drink companies in Europe and Central Asia, the Middle East, North, Central and South America, Africa, China and South Asia.
Martin Herrenbrueck, president and general manager Europe, SIG: Aseptic carton packaging. We operate around the world with customers in more than 60 countries. We provide end-to-end solutions for differentiated products, smarter factories and connected packs.
David Woodyatt, managing director East Midlands, FC Cartons: Pharmaceutical, food, food on-the-go, retail, confectionery, e-commerce, toiletries and drinks.
Peter Conner, commercial director, Pollard Boxes: Luxury markets including premium drinks, beauty care, consumer electronics, confectionery, publishing and gifting.
Tom Sene, sales director, Alexir Partnership: Primarily we work in the food markets but not exclusively.
Giles Foden, joint managing director, Quantum Print & Packaging: We are particularly strong in beverage, sports nutrition, food, and vape markets.
How was trading in the first half of 2019? And how is it shaping up for the rest of the year?
Lindroth: We continue to drive to be part of a low carbon and circular economy, which enabled us to provide more than 180 billion packages which contributed to overall net sales of €11.2bn.
Herrenbrueck: In 2018, SIG generated €1.7bn in revenue. In the first half of 2019, we continued to see a good top line performance with growth of 5%, driven in particular by the growth markets in Asia Pacific and the Americas.
Woodyatt: Whilst Brexit had an impact with the uncertainty it caused, we have matched our 2019 Forecast to date. Whilst we continue to see uncertainty in the market place we could exceed our 2019 forecast.
Conner: We have had a good first half and our order book looks very healthy for the second half.
Sene: I think it is an unusual year for most carton manufacturers. There is a huge opportunity with the heightened challenge surrounding single use plastic. The uncertainty with Brexit led to larger orders after March due to stock piling by customers. Q3 and Q4 are looking positive but will be glad when October 31 is behind us.
Foden: An unpredictable first half to 2019 , perhaps Brexit driven, which settled down as we moved in to the second half.
Is the carton sector still benefiting from the ‘war on plastic’? And what challenges does paper-based packaging face when it comes to recycling?
Lindroth: Tetra Pak cartons outperform the majority of other packaging. Cartons are recyclable and can currently be collected in 94% of UK local authority areas. The opening of a dedicated carton recycling plant in Halifax in 2013 forms part of our ongoing work with ACE UK, the Alliance for Beverage Cartons and the Environment, to encourage carton recycling nationwide.
Herrenbrueck: Independent life-cycle assessments show that cartons offer significantly better environmental performance than alternative packaging for a range of products including long-life food, UHT milk and non-carbonated soft drinks.
Woodyatt: I believe the carton sector has started to benefit but for the right reasons. For example scientific research has indicated that corrugated trays keep fruit fresher and safer than reusable plastic crates. While corrugated offers a more biodegradable option it still faces challenges to develop packaging materials that replicate the barrier that plastic performs.
Conner: We specialise in the luxury area of packaging and we have seen little benefit from “the war on plastic”.
Sene: Yes we have benefited but this is a natural reaction given the material we are converting is recyclable, recycled and from a renewable source.
Foden: We are still seeing new customers seeking an alternative to plastics but the rise in interest in card alternatives seems to have plateaued. Maybe 99% of the people want to change but only 1% actually do.
What print technology has caught your eye over the last year? And is digital making strides against traditional technology?
Herrenbrueck: Using new digital technologies and unique track-and-trace solutions, SIG can deliver 100% connectivity and traceability within every single pack. With more traceability, customers and consumers have greater insight over the entire supply chain.
Woodyatt: We do not see a lot of print technology within our business. We believe digital is making strides in smaller run targeted solutions.
Conner: Although digital print has come on in leaps and bounds recently, for our sector of the market it’s not quite there yet. However, we will certainly be keeping an eye on it so that at the appropriate time we can bring further benefits to our customers.
Sene: Litho presses have been making huge strides in reducing make-ready times, increasing speeds and reducing production inefficiencies. Perhaps the performance of the digital presses has spurred them on to improve their game? Both technologies are moving at such a speed that it wouldn’t surprise me if they achieve the same goals ultimately.
Foden: Our digital press is three years old and is still effective. We haven’t seen anything that would be leaps ahead in terms of what we can already offer.
What are your customers demanding right now?
Lindroth: Sustainability is front of mind for all our customers. When they come to us, they’re in search of a packaging solution that balances being renewable, low carbon and recyclable with consumer convenience.
Herrenbrueck: The need for high-quality, sustainable and convenient food and beverage products is increasing. Consumers are demanding environmentally friendly products and packaging that is sustainable.
Woodyatt: The removal of single use plastic. We have been surprised at the speed and demand for change from the plastic option to cardboard, paper based biodegradable products.
Conner: One area is front opening packs for greater shelf presence. These incorporate book jackets and hidden magnets so this is an area where we have added major investment recently.
Sene: By far the biggest request is for alternatives to plastic. There is, however, a case to take some time over the alternatives as there are reasons why plastic is in the supply chain and it is not an easy fix.
Foden: Cost effective reliable solutions and great service.
Have you made any major investments in the last 12 months?
Lindroth: This year, we have invested €80m into developing new paper straws, tethered caps and other solutions to replace fossil-fuel based plastics.
Herrenbrueck: In order to meet growing demand for our packs there we will construct a new plant at the Suzhou Industrial Park in China.
Woodyatt: The Hub’ is our new production facility – three times the size of the old plant and eleven times larger than the original premises.
Conner: So far this year we have added a Lamina litho-lam machine and a second fully automatic magnet drilling and fixing machine. In August we installed our first robotic solution integrated into a full production line.
Sene: A foil blocker that we now have in-house to improve on lead-times for our customers and a mini carton gluer in our digital department.
If you had one message to your industry peers, what would it be?
Lindroth: Collaboration across the entire supply chain. Government, retailers, brands, packaging companies and consumers need to work together to reduce carbon impact at each level of the packaging production process.
Herrenbrueck: Developing zero-carbon and circular economy solutions for a sustainable and climate-resilient future is a big topic and an even bigger challenge. By sharing ideas and leading by example, our industry has to think more collaboratively about how to become part of the solution to help creating a net positive food supply system.
Woodyatt: We should all be working together to ensure we are using the most effective biodegradable products available. Where all of us are striving to be as environmentally friendly as possible.
Conner: Always strive to give exceptional customer service, be creative, push the boundaries, carry on with your investments and trust in the future.
Sene: Let’s think about how we leave the planet to our children and add that genuine value to our proposition.
Foden: To tirelessly flaunt the carton manufacturing industry to the right audience that have the power to help support what is one of the most environmentally sustainable cost effective packaging formats available.
THIS MONTH’S INDUSTRY EXPERTS
Erik Lindroth is sustainability director, Tetra Pak Europe and Central Asia, a packaging business headquartered in Lund, Sweden and Lausanne, Switzerland. The company employs around 25,000 people across 160 countries. The company covers plethora of packaging areas, as well as working towards innovations within the industry.
Martin Herrenbrueck is president and general manager Europe, SIG. Founded in 1853, SIG is a £1.7bn revenue business operating in aseptic cartons in over 60 countries worldwide. The Neuhausen, Switzerland-headquartered company has recently moved more heavily into the Asian market. It employs around 5,000 people.
David Woodyatt, is managing director for East Midlands, FC Cartons. With 40 staff, FC Cartons is an AA BRC accredited company, providing die-cutting, pick and place, window patching, folding, gluing and nested solutions to the carton, print and packaging industries. The Castle Donnington company was launched in 2003.
Peter Conner is commercial director at Pollard Boxes. Formed in 1969, the company has grown through both organic growth and acquisition. Turnover has increased by 20% year on year. Pollards devises solutions across a wide range of end-markets, notably luxury and gift items, with particular focus on beauty, haircare and premium drinks.
Tom Sene is sales director at The Alexir Partnership. Based across Kent and Sussex in the south of England, the Alexir Partnership is an end-to-end packaging manufacturer, creating, packaging and packing food products from design to delivery. The business is currently recording a turnover of £33m, encompassing five divisions.
Giles Foden is joint managing director of Quantum Print & Packaging, a £3m turnover company based in Wednesbury in the midlands. Based out of a 2,800sqm facility, it operates across both digital and litho printed carton board packaging and supplies markets including the beverage, food, vape and sports nutrition.