interpack: Focus on affordability, sustainability

by Staff
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Energy and raw materials are becoming more expensive, and consumers want to do more for the environment. This is forcing snacks and baked goods producers to make difficult adjustments. Their products have to stand out from the crowd without extravagant packages that drive up costs, according to a technical paper provided by the organizers of interpack 2014, which runs from May 8-14 in Dusseldorf, Germany. Packaging producers and machinery manufacturers may help with material-saving packaging solutions and more efficient production lines.

Anyone who wants to hold their own on the market for confectionery and snacks against the likes of Nestle and Kraft Foods has to present their goods well at the point of sale. The range of sweets and snacks has become enormous: nougat with salted butter, saffron butter biscuits and marshmallow sticks with orange blossom flavoring and chocolate coating are just some of the new products that manufacturers are flooding the shelves with.

“In a highly competitive environment, companies want to win market shares with a constant stream of new products,” said Torben Erbrath, spokesman of the Association of the German Confectionery Industry.

The package is the key to the purchase. It not only has to protect the snack’s delicate contents, but also catch their attention. This calls for creativity from packaging designers: showy colors and shapes are just as important as effective consumer marketing.

However, some manufacturers of confectionery and baked goods tend to overdo it. Companies misleading customers with fraudulently oversized packages have received repeated criticism. A survey by the North Rhine-Westphalian (N.R.W.) Consumers Association in Germany revealed that biscuit and snack packages contained an average of 40% empty space.

Such deception is not only illegal, but also pointless. Many consumers feel cheated by the purchased products, noted Klaus Müller, board member of the N.R.W. Consumers Association. There are also environmental arguments against supersized packages. Wasting resources has a negative impact on the environment — something that consumers are well aware of.

Inflated packages are also counterproductive for economic reasons. Snack and baked goods producers are facing massive pressure on costs, as energy and packaging materials as well as raw materials such as milk, cocoa and sugar are becoming more expensive.

To avoid putting off environmentally aware consumers and to offset cost increases, companies have only one choice: they have to restrain themselves with the packaging and manufacture their products more efficiently. Some companies are resorting to material downsizing, giving preference to packaging materials that are easier to recycle and that conserve resources by being thinner.

Scientists are searching for alternative methods that are even greener and cheaper. A sustainable alternative to transparent multi-layer films.

At the interpack 2014 trade fair, many more packaging innovations for confectionery and baked goods will be on display. More than 1,000 of the expected 2,700 exhibitors at the show have named the confectionery and snack industry as the target group for their products and services.

“Their focus is on boosting efficiency, because every tenth of a cent counts in the production of confectionery today,” explained Beatrix Fraese of the Food Processing and Packaging Machinery Association within the German Engineering Federation.

With their numerous innovations, packaging producers and machinery manufacturers have adjusted to the new requirements in the confectionery and baked goods sector. Manufacturers willing to invest have plenty to choose from among all the new packaging and more efficient machine solutions.

For more on interpack 2014, visit www.interpack.com
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