2019/05/17 Executive Forecast: The State of Flexible Packaging in 2019 (part 2)

Executive Forecast: The State of Flexible Packaging in 2019

Source from:

 February 4, 2019

Eric Fish

The Equipment Manufacturer

According to Giancarlo Caimmi, Nordmeccanica’s commercial director, global political instability and general unpredictability made 2018 an unusual year.

“We had growth in areas that we were not supposed to and vice versa,” he says. “North America started very slow and then picked up toward the end of the year, eventually staying within the expected targets. The initial reluctance to invest in capital equipment indicated a sort of lack of trust in the economy.”

Caimmi expects 2019 to start much better than 2018 did, and he had a lot to say about the industry from a manufacturer’s perspective. Here’s a look:

On trends and opportunities in 2019:

Caimmi: The ability to sense trends well in advance will make a significant difference for both converters and equipment manufacturers. Serving the industry globally allows us to witness trends that some time originate in different areas and in very different directions. What evolves in flexible packaging in Asia, Europe and America is influenced by regional politics, the economy and culture. They’re very locally specific. There are trends that are born in one area but show signs that they may soon contaminate others. 

Energy consumption concerns, recycling improvements, reduction of the length of the production runs have been seen in certain areas first and then have reached a global scale. The same pattern applies to other topics. Therefore, an approach to innovating can just be to simply look around: Somewhere out there, certain evolutions are already at work. These may be geographically limited to certain areas, but they’re suitable for global evolution. That approach takes a lot of our attention and helps us to stay ahead in innovations and technical evolutions. Some of the most recent innovations we have presented to the industry have in fact been generated by such an approach. Take, for example, the barrier we have developed in cooperation with Henkel. One of the triggers was definitely what was happening in the U.S. with duties imposed over aluminum and the need for converters to have access to high barrier performance while avoiding foil. It’s an effective solution to an industry problem.

On major challenges in 2019:

Caimmi: It is about technology trends, specifically in our market segment of coating and lamination. It is about innovation and evolution in packaging. Flexible packaging keeps being the target of press aggression. The media acts as they are missing the big picture and focuses on the headline that “plastic is bad.” We do need to pursue technical improvements, mainly addressing energy saving and recycling. Flexible packaging is not the problem, rather it is part of the solution, but it can improve. Lamination of more homogenous layers, with recycling in mind is one way. So is the increased use of performance coatings. With all those trends evolving, what about investing in capital equipment? Is an investment performed now safe in consideration of new technical developments? Those considerations are, in my opinion, influencing the market these days. And to my opinion, the market has already demonstrated the solution. The trend in developed markets is toward flexibility. The super-custom design has been fading in favor of machine solutions open to the largest number of possible applications.


On factors influencing equipment making:

Caimmi: In my opinion, 2019 will be marked by the final entrench of digital printing in our industry. Digital printing has been a technical reality for well over two decades. Yet, it has always been promoted as a self-standing solution, without a proper focus on the actual application within the converting process. It is the format that was missing. How do you tailor the use of an innovation to a specific industry? Look at the attempts to force pre-lamination, thermal lamination and water-based lamination in association with digital printing in an industry that has retired those solutions years and years ago. Converters are not consumers, but business-oriented professionals with clear targets to meet. And within those targets there was definitely the integration of digital printing within the production flow of flexible packaging. We knew that coating and lamination in combination with digital printing was going through the same mainstream consideration as traditional conversion: no emission, low energy consumption, simplicity of use and profit. Therefore, we have been serving digital printers since day one with solventless laminators, learning more at every installation. Now, in close cooperation with digital printers, we have been able to identify the ideal set up for a laminator intended specifically for that purpose.


On the importance of industry collaboration and cooperation:

Caimmi: Cooperation through the value chain remains in fact one of our best kept secrets. Every product announcement is not the result of ideas developed within an ivory tower, it is instead the implementation of ideas developed to offer
effective solutions to our customers — the ultimate target of all of our actions.


If you attended Global Pouch West last November, then you’re already familiar with Jan Tharp, who was the event’s keynote speaker. For those of you who are not, Tharp is the current interim CEO at Bumble Bee Seafoods, a 120-year-old brand in the shelf-stable seafood market. She previously served as the company’s chief operating officer. While Bumble Bee Seafoods is perhaps best known for its tuna, it also sells salmon, herring, clams and it has a small meats division as well. Here’s a look at what Tharp had to say about packaging and industry trends:

On the impact of good packaging:

Tharp: It’s something that I absolutely love and it’s not industry-specific. I love to hear stories about how packaging changes lives, because I believe that it can. From the convenience factor to moving products around the world, it’s just something that resonates with me. I think that anyone in a CEO role, especially of consumer products, has to understand the value of packaging because it touches so many elements of a brand. Packaging is getting more important. If you look at canned tuna historically, we’ve been rather boring with the exception of the pouches. As Bumble Bee moves forward and we execute our growing forward strategy, packaging is at the core of that because it is what facilitates convenience – and convenience is something right now the category is lacking. Consumers are interested in tuna if you can give them a product, a format and the right package.


On trends impacting the industry overall:

Tharp: Safety and employee engagement. When we talk about an engaged workforce, whether they’re in the factory or in the corporate office, if you can engage your employees so they understand exactly what you’re doing and why you’re doing it, and they can see how they fit in to the overall strategy, you’re going to have a workforce that is far more productive than somebody who is coming in and missing all of those elements. They have to see the roadmap to see where they’re going. A lot of times, if you look at operations that aren’t performing well, I think somewhere in that system, communication has broken down. If you can educate people and communicate with people, you have to have that before you can start programs. The more there’s a two-way conversation, we see better performance. Everybody is essentially motivated by the same thing, and that’s the feeling of being valued.