Meeting opportunities

At the second Packaging MEA Forum, in Dubai on 7–8 March, the regional industry’s leading figures shared insights on achieving quality, profit, and regulatory compliance.
eventsAcross three busy days, participants in the second Packaging Middle East forum explored a host of important and sometimes surprising developments moulding their industry’s future. Key regional administrators explained how food safety regulation are set to tighten while brands presented changes already underway to minimise their operations’ environmental impact. And on each day manufacturers and suppliers revealed technologies and products that can help companies secure their slice of a growing but hotly contested market.
In the first day Khalid Mohammed Sherif Al-Awadhi, CEO Food Safety Department, revealed how Dubai is steadily raising its requirements in food packaging to protect consumers. “We don’t want just acceptable,” he told the forum. “We want high quality.”
In his key note speech Saleh Abdullah Lootah, president of the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s Food and Beverage Manufacturing Business Group, spoke on the group’s work in “raising the bar in quality and standards”. He also stressed how the UAE is “the ideal place for food manufacturing”, with Dubai already a “hub” for food and beverages.events2
Christel Morival An, CEO and founder of Lamarq International, took the forum through a brand’s route to realising the regional markets’ enticing opportunities. “How can design become your best ally?” she asked. The answer, she explained, is through understanding the language of design and having, above all, “a strategy”. Her presentation also showed how she had applied this approach in Egypt, revolutionising image and sales for a baked roll company. “Design is a very investment but you cannot consider design without strategy,” she added.
A further instance of good design winning market share came from Unilever’s Perwaze Qaiser, who described how carefully conceived packaging reversed a traditional dip in Ramadan tea consumption into a bump.
Almarai packaging development manager Kaunain Shahidi explained the demographic and social factors Middle East packaging needs to incorporate. Alongside the youthful “Arab digital generation” there is an emergence of mature consumers, he explained. He spoke on “the innovation gap” businesses face in addressing “how people live their lives” and how “design thinking” can bridge it.
Branding expert Sanjay Murthy, managing director of Figjam, told the forum how consumers have changed the way they interact with products. He stressed how purchasers now seek to find shared values with a brand and how “emotional” aspects are “a huge part of design”.
The practical aspects of design and production featured in a talk on Arden Software’s product lifecycle management software by Matthew Hewitt, business development manager. The automated approach “dispenses with reams of paper, Excel forms, and email templates” and “eliminates a huge amount of duplication”, he promised.
In the opening day’s second session the forum explored the potential of new substrates. Speaking on Dow’s portfolio, Alessandro Corticelli described a fundamental shift in the firm’s approach. “We provide the ingredients to make the dish but we longer want to just deliver them to the kitchen,” he said. Dow’s “value-chain collaboration” now puts it “in the kitchen, collaborating with the chef”. Dow’s Pack Studios are open not only to customers but “customers of customers”, he added.events3
Meanwhile, Abdul Rasheed, sales manager for Taghleef Industries extolled the merits of BOPP as not only a lightweight and versatile substrate but also “the most sustainable solution”.
In the key issue of food safety, Flint’s Marc Heylen stressed the role played by inks. His presentation focused on UV inks and stressed collaboration through the supply chain. In particular, he pointed to the benefits of the firm’s Ancora and Ancora 50 products.
Henkel product development manager Dennis Bankmann continued the theme of safety. “Packaging often looks the same as it did in the 1990s but things have been taken out – such as VOCs – and other things have been added,” he said. He pointed to the evolution of legislation on the issue across the region and described Henkel’s efforts to raise awareness through online webinars.
IST Metz’s place in the evolution of food safety was outlined by Jean-Philippe Fournier, sales manager for sheetfed applications, who spoke on the fields of application for UV technology and the emergence of LED UV. Through its UV transfer testing centre in Nuertingen, the company is developing the technology’s applications and market.
In the forum’s exploration of new technologies, Trigon presented its expanded facilities in the Gulf and its gamut of services to ensure consistency and quality across products. “Your brand colour is your brand,” explained Vineeth Viswanathan, business head for Asia, the Middle East, and Europe.
ThermoflexX’s innovations in digital flexo plates were laid out by Christophe Lievens, director for sales and marketing. He pointed to the company’s ability to cater for all resolutions in the market,including higher-quality 5080 dpi, as well as features such as autocalibration and direct drum drive.
Ian Pollock, regional sales director for Presstek Europe spoke on the company’s direct impression (DI) thermal laser imaging and in chemical-free plates in the wider context of enhancing sustainability. In his view, “going green” is about “refining processes” and ensuring sustainability encompasses the entire printing context. He described the rise in the use of waterless presses and discussed the challenges of keeping the benefits of UV while removing the disadvantages.
Tetra Pak’s comprehensive commitment to environmental values were spotlighted by Rodney Reynders. “We are providing opportunities for mills to recycle,” he explained. “We create awareness of the value of cartons… We add value to the brand owner. We communicate with them… We do what’s right from an environmental point of view.”
Environment achievements were also trumpeted by Lisa Texier and Kannan Iyengar of Mars, who described how the company has eliminated landfill waste from its Jebel Ali plant. They explained how the company is reducing the number of layers in its products’ packaging, cutting thickness, and reducing the use of aluminium.
Uteco Converting’s technology for boosting efficiency and flexibility in flexible packaging was introduced by sales manager Luigi Fiorenzato. “Our target is to be the best in the scenario,” he explained. The company approach involves sourcing “82% of its components within 300 km of Verona”, he added.
Heidelberg’s technology for cartons was presented by Thomas Geiger, sales director for Central and Eastern Europe and the Middle East. He suggested that inline production already saves “6- 10% on raw materials” while still “far from its zenith”.events4
Gallus’s Hans Knopfel presented the development of the narrowweb label market. While demand is currently “disproportionately high in the West”, he forecast future growth in Asia and Latin America. Pressure-sensitive labels will meanwhile take over from segments such as wet glue, he predicted. “Surveys of printers spotlight job changes as the biggest concern,” he said. “Digital presses address many of their concerns.”
Security was to the fore in Ranesh Bajaj’s presentation for Vinsak, which included regional instances of tightening requirements to combat counterfeiting. “Brand protection in packaging is growing,” he said. “In 2005, the bank said there was no need to put security on cheques. In 2010, we convinced them to add 10 new features.” He cited the revival of intaglio and argued “the loss from counterfeiting is always more than the cost of preventing it”.
Speaking from outside the established packaging industry, Lamis Harib, the founder and CEO of BioD Packing & Packaging, described her efforts as “the first Arab-owned plant-based biodisposables and packaging company in the MEA”.
She described food and beverages products as both providing the highest influx of packaging and proving “the most problematic area”. BioD’s solutions have so far involved replacing Styrofoam with bagasse-placed materials and using bioplastics and pressed palm leaves.

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