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2015 Conference Review
Packaging manufacturers who home in on customer desires and needs can find opportunities to expand market share in paper-based food packaging and service ware.
That was one of the recurring messages at the fifth annual Focal Point conference, which brought together brand owners, manufacturers and other packaging industry experts for a day of discussion on trends and opportunities.
Held at UW-Stevens Point October 20, the conference featured presenters from LBP Manufacturing, Cargill, HAVI Global Solutions, WestRock, Dow and WIST.
Are there opportunities in food packaging? Research presented by Erin Weinland of WestRock showed that 36 percent of consumers say “packaging is extremely or very impactful when purchasing carry-out food” but just 7 percent of consumers are completely satisfied with to-go food packaging. Companies that develop products that exceed consumer expectations can expand market share. Weinland said that paper packaging benefits from positive sustainability perceptions “but the product has to perform.”
Performance was the focus of a presentation by Dow’s Jeff Leitinger, who described research the company is undertaking to improve coating performance of paper and paperboard. He described innovation trends such as binders for improved strength and efficiency.
Mike Richmond of HAVI reviewed results of his company’s surveys of industry leaders, who defined trends and challenges they foresee in the next decade. Cost pressures and sustainability/sourcing ranked high as challenges; greater customization of packaging, such as with graphics for specific retailers, and technology integration including intelligent packaging are areas of opportunity.
Brian Lansing of Cargill heads a division that purchases $1.2 billion in packaging each year, $600 million of that in fiber-based packaging. He touched on brand owner demands that will drive innovation toward packaging with greater strength at lower weight, finishing and graphics that will require more sophisticated converting equipment, and the growing trend toward just-in-time shipping which will result in smaller production runs.
Paul Fowler, WIST executive director, provided an overview of product compostability testing, covering not only the process and terminology but how testing and certification of compostability is seen by regulatory agencies.
The conference kicked off with a keynote presentation from Brent Denniston, senior vice president, business development and international operations for LBP Manufacturing. Having previously worked at Starbucks, where he was vice president, global sourcing and supplier relations, Denniston shared his perspective from both the brand owner and manufacturing sides.
The date for next year’s Focal Point conference has already been set: Mark your calendars and plan to be in Stevens Point October 18, 2016.