Food packaging is an integral part of our daily lives, but it’s easy for more “general” food packaging products to go unnoticed. When we pour our cereal into the bowl, tear open a pizza box or nibble on a box of cookies, we hardly think of the many regulations, requirements and extremely clever products that go into making that packaging. So we asked Lee Andrews, Vice President of ACTEGA’s Paper and Board Business Line in North America, to uncover the trends and challenges of bringing these deceptively basic boxes to market. .
First, why is the topic of “general” food packaging a topic that readers should be interested in?
Well, food packaging for general or everyday products – the typical foods you’ll find in any grocery store – is the largest segment of the folding carton market. These products require high performance coatings to create graphics that stand out, protect packaging and product, and ensure consumer safety. Additionally, coatings that cater to this sector must be high performance, operate at high speed, and be designed to be inexpensive due to the ever-increasing pressures of this fast-moving, value-driven market. The combination of all these requirements makes this seemingly “everyday” topic actually quite complex and worthy of closer examination.
But ACTEGA is well known for its premium coatings and inks, how does your expertise in high quality printing products translate into products for general food packaging?
ACTEGA has long held a leading position in some of the most demanding printing markets. Our expertise in developing premium coatings to support the most demanding applications allows us to apply these capabilities and resources to all industry sectors. We have exceptionally strong teams of R&D chemists and field technicians, and the expertise to consult regulatory requirements to meet the most demanding market challenges. In this case, we’ve taken all of those resources and created high-performance, low-cost products with the added benefit of the high-level service and support that all ACTEGA customers are accustomed to.
So, are these more standard food packaging products new?
Actually no, ACTEGA has been supporting the folding carton market for food packaging since we are a coating company in North America. We have a very strong, qualified and stable product line for this market, including many glossy, matte and protective coatings. However, it is a very dynamic market which is constantly evolving as the bar is constantly being raised both on the press and on the shelves. ACTEGA is committed to being a leader in this field and we are constantly developing and improving our portfolio to be a leader in this market. Additionally, we recently conducted a targeted review of these products to ensure we are formulating our best solutions at the lowest total cost.
Going back to what brands and customers expect from “general” food packaging products, how do these products meet these requirements?
Sustainability is undoubtedly the top priority for our customers and our customers’ customers. While ACTEGA’s position in the water-based barrier coating market is not new, our ACTGREEN barrier coating portfolio pushes the boundaries by providing water-based barrier solutions to eliminate extruded polyethylene barriers that simplify the recovery of paper fiber. These products address the need for an effective alternative to PE laminates and are an example of ACTEGA’s innovative approach to finding new solutions to current market challenges in a safe, efficient and sustainable way.
These markets also require us to remain strongly focused on low cost performance. ACTEGA understands that in this market there is constant cost pressure. It is our responsibility as a supplier in this highly competitive supply chain to remain highly focused on product cost and the pressures our customers face.
Finally, these markets also require constant attention to continuous improvement. ACTEGA’s strong financial platform enables the necessary investments in our business to optimize product development and our manufacturing footprint. Plus, our ALTANA X Continuous Improvement Platform creates a systematic approach to self-improvement. We combine this foundation with a consultative approach to the market to help our customers in their efforts to improve every day.
With food safety at the top of business priority lists, how do you ensure it is at the heart of ACTEGA’s food packaging products?
Safe and durable products are always at the heart of our development process.
As a company with a global footprint with an in-depth view of regulatory and food safety expectations, ACTEGA always designs solutions based on the needs of today’s markets with a commitment to solving tomorrow’s challenges. Our products are designed to adapt to these regulations, and our teams of experts are there to advise our customers on these complex requirements in our local and global markets.
What do you see as the main challenges for the market and your customers today? Are there other trends causing a particular need or growth in this sector?
There are a few key trends happening at the retail level that are impacting the supply chain. Consumer shopping habits for food products are different today than they were before the pandemic. Catering packaging is growing at a rapid pace, which has enabled us to develop unique coating solutions for take-out packaging.
Another interesting trend is that consumers are more educated and aware of the downstream impact of waste created by packaging choices. Consumers demand a complete understanding of how their food was brought to them, how it was packaged, and the packaging “end of life” scenario. This means that customers are driving the behavior of food companies more than ever, putting pressure on packaging suppliers to come up with better and more sustainable solutions. ACTEGA is rising to these challenges and we are positioned to solve these problems for our customers.
What is your view of the sector and perhaps your forecast for its prospects next year and beyond?
The general food packaging sector is certainly a growing market and ACTEGA intends to continue to invest in our manufacturing footprint to support this growth. We will continue to invest in our talented teams to ensure we have the best teams on the market and the best on-press support for our customers. Finally, we will continue our relentless quest for cutting-edge technologies to meet the challenges of tomorrow, particularly in the area of sustainable development.