Nanotechnology and food packaging: A natural alliance

Although nanotechnology is quite well known, its uptake in the food industry has been slow. The food grown or manufactured using nanotechnology has not gained as wide an acceptance as it was expected to. However, on the packaging side, the story is completely opposite. The nanotechnology based packaging materials are proving to be very successful. They are safe and have additional properties that are beneficial for packaging of food products. As the technology improves, the nano packaging is getting cheaper and its commercial use is expanding rapidly.

What is Nanotechnology

Nanotechnology is nothing but working with the material at the molecular level. This technique of manufacturing is used to create very thin layers (few molecules thick or just a few nanometers thick), of complex molecular structures that are not possible using conventional chemical processes. In its more advanced versions, this technology is also working in medicine and healthcare fields to create complex medicines. In the manufacturing industry, Nanotechnology is used to create thin coatings of active and passive materials to provide strong, flexible and inert layers to store volatile and highly reactive liquids and gases, or reacting with only specific substance while remaining inert to others. It is because of these properties, that nanotechnology is of great use in the packaging industry. It is now used in various kinds of packaging, especially in the food industry to extend the life of packaged food.

Nanotechnology in food packaging:

Traditionally the paper, metal (aluminum foils and tins) and plastic based polymer films of various grades are used for food packaging. However, each has its own disadvantages on various fronts, which nanotechnology overcomes. Some of the applications of nanotechnology in food packaging are listed below.

Barrier Packaging: Food material reacted negatively with Oxygen and becomes stale. The only viable solution is to remove all oxygen from the food environment (within the packaging) and prevent any infusion or leakage of oxygen into the packaging. Metal packaging such as tins are airtight, but are expensive and inflexible. Glass packaging is fragile and inflexible. The plastic polymer based packaging material is low in cost and flexible. However, it is slightly permeable to oxygen and other gases. Over time, the oxygen leaks into the packaging and the food get damaged. This is where nanotechnology is helpful. A coating of an impermeable substance which is just a new nanometers in thickness is sufficient to create a packaging that is impermeable to gases while retaining the flexibility of the base material. Typically a thin metal film which is only a few nanometers thick is applied to polyester or polyethylene films to create flexible, impermeable and inert packaging material that increases the shelf life of food by a great deal.

Antimicrobial packaging:

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Some nanomaterial can actively reduce the growth of microorganisms. These substances are applied to the food facing side of the packaging to reduce the growth of pathogens in the food, thus increasing the shelf life of the food. Silver is one such material which is well known for its anti-pathogen properties. With nanotechnology, a very thin layer of silver is coated on the packaging greatly reducing the amount of silver required and thus saving the costs. Other more active and cheaper materials are being investigated for their antibacterial properties under nanostructure conditions. For example, Zinc oxide nanoparticles become antibacterial as their size gets smaller. Chitin, a natural substance found in the shells of marine crustaceans such as Crabs and Shrimps is also effective in fighting pathogens.

Active or smart packaging: Nanotechnology has created possibilities of creating very small electronic components. Researchers are looking at the possibility of applying these nano electronic components onto packaging, which can actively sense and control the environment inside the packaged food. They can alert the consumer when the food starts to decay. It sounds straight out of a sci-fi movie, but it is getting real. Here are some examples of active packaging.

 

Active cooling:. Self-cooling packaging uses chemical and physical processes (such as evaporation) to keep the temperature inside the package cold and thus increase the life of food. Another very interesting technology under development is keeping the package cool by using a thin powered system, which is powered by the very thin photovoltaic cell. The electricity will be used by the thermoelectric system to lower the temperature inside the package. These systems would reduce the need for refrigeration along the supply chain.

Self-healing polymers: Self-healing polymers are making great progress. The packaging made out of such polymer can accommodate small punctures and tears thus reducing the wastage due to damaged packaging.

Nanosensors. Chemical compounds that change color based on the presence of a gas are applied on the inner side of the transparent packaging polymer. As the food goes stale, it emits various gases. This changes the color of the compound which is visible from outside the package indicating that the food has gone stale. The nanotechnology allows the layer of substance to be very thin to maintain transparency, bonded strongly onto the surface of packaging so that it does not mix with food and yet be visible when its color changes.

 

RFID:

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Radio Frequency Identification is already in use today. Advancements in nanotechnology allow for manufacturing of much smaller and much cheaper RFID tags. This will make them more common eventually replacing the bar codes altogether. This will further speed up the logistics processes and reduce the manpower requirement along the supply chain.

Nanotechnology has much to offer to the food industry. It provides for robust, flexible solutions that increase safety. The smart packaging solutions monitor and control the food environment, increasing its life and easing the logistics requirement. The future of the nanotechnology in packaging industry looks lip smacking.

Paper & Paperboard Packaging Market – Trends & Forecast

Paper packaging has been around for very long time. From simple brown bag and cardboard box cartons to much sophisticated waterproof paperboard boxes for Chinese takeaway, paper packaging has come a long away. As eco friendly packaging has started gaining momentum, paper has come back in limelight due to its bio degradability. However that is not the only factor driving the increase in consumption of paper based packaging. Social changes and technical advancements are equally playing their role in determining the direction of the paper packaging industry. Let’s take a look at some of the key trends emerging in paperboard industry.

 

  1. Social changes in developing countries. Most of the educated population in developing countries is moving onto more qualified jobs leading to higher disposable incomes. They are replacing the traditional meals with more modern processed, frozen and packaged foods. As these economies continue to grow, this changed trend in eating habits will continue to grow. There is a trend to move from unpackaged goods to industrially packaged goods. Both of these will lead to increase in consumption of paperboard packaging material. The migration of rural population to urban areas continues to rise. With this the migrant’s consumption patterns also change to consume more packaged and processed food and industrialized goods. Overall, the social changes are leading to higher consumption of packaged goods in both the developing and developed countries. Paperboard being at fore front of retail packaging will continue to see rise in demand across the sectors.
  2. Food delivery on rise. Recent trends show that millennial generation prefers to order take-away instead of going out to dine, to avoid the hassle involved with going out (traffic, parking etc). A study showed that more than 30% of Americans order food deliveries twice a week. With new third party delivery options, even the dine-in restaurants have started providing home delivery options. Because of this the food packaging sales will increase in general. Another interesting factor that has come to forefront due to myriad options for food delivery is the packaging style. Instead of simple boxes, the ‘healthy fast food’ providers, the ‘gourmet food home delivery’ providers amongst others are using customized packaging in forms of tray style packaging with built in partitions for various side dishes for the convenience of the user. It is this customized packaging that will see the maximum rise in sales.
  3. Balance sustainability and productivity. In mature markets, the paperboard manufacturers and are struggling to extract every penny of productivity from their equipment. The improvements in process which they implement extract marginal gains at best. They are now investing in next generation machine that reduce waste and decrease change over times and consume less energy. These not only provide higher productivity, but also reduce the consumption of raw material and have reduced environmental impact as well. To meet the new tighter environmental regulations and changed consumer preference for environmental friendly packaging, the manufacturers are designing machines that use up to 30% less material to produce the packaging material of same strength. There is change from finding balance between the sustainability and productivity, to getting the synergies between the two. Less consumption of material and more effective use of material increase the dollar productivity for the manufacturer and are also more environmentally friendly. This synergy will redefine the way packaging industry works and does business.
  4. Recycled Vs Virgin paper issue.  There is a growing concern about disposal of the packaging after its use, especially in the food industry. There is talk of packaging material that has similar life cycle of that of the product it packs and then it degrades or decomposes. However, the issue of contamination of food product with packing remains in such cases. The package must preserve the health of the consumer at every stage. Self decomposing packaging solutions are not yet suitable to meet this requirement. Using recycled paper comes with own challenges. It has host of inks, glues, chemicals and other ingredients which cannot be ascertained unless confirmed by the original manufacturer of original paper product. In such scenario, one can never be sure about the contamination that recycled paper will add to the product. This means that with increasing consumption, the use of virgin paper in packaging will rise in comparison to recycled paper. The researched are working on barrier coating that will prevent moisture and odour from transferring and preserve freshness and aroma of the food. The new nano-materials, antimicrobial barrier coatings will see the limelight in packaging.
  5. Smaller, more practical packaging. As the social structure of the society is changing, the consumption patterns are also changing. Families are getting smaller and smaller. The nuclear families have become the norm. There are now a significant number of households with just one member. Moreover, people are getting more health conscious. They are conscious of the serving sizes and portions that they are consuming. The remaining food is resealed, needing a re-sealable packaging for larger portions. Consumption on the go is also on the rise. (Prime example being coffee and other beverages). This means that portion sizes not only need to be smaller, the packaging needs to be designed to facilitate and simplify eating on the go. Many consumers are willing to pay more for a single serving pack of food. This will give rise to single serving or multi unit packaging (where one unit can be severed from the rest without opening the product). This will lead to interesting controversy. On one side will be the green initiatives promoting less packaging, less waste, less use of material and on the other side the smaller, individual packaging which will require more material and generate more overall waste.
  6. Premium packaging. As consumer gets more sophisticated, the packaging for premium luxury brands require impeccable details, such as better colour and printing and embossing, better strength and texture of the material itself. These will require high grade of paperboard to be used for packaging. With increased spending capability, craft and gourmet food will have increased share in the market, requiring more premium packaging. There will be shorter runs, speciality coating to give superior impression of the product.

 

Overall, the Paper packaging industry is set to grow. Be it the environmental concerns or consumption patterns or ease of production, paper is meeting expectation on every front. With the new methods to restrict the transfer of odour and aroma and anti microbial coating, it may well be on its way to replace plastic containers.

8 alternatives to plastic packaging

All products need to be packed in a safe secure packaging that not only provides the protection to the product but also adds to the aesthetic presentation of the product. Today plastic packaging is one of the most common and popular form of packing material. It is cheap, strong, and durable and can be moulded into any shape required. However plastic has one major disadvantage. It is not bio degradable. Once discarded, it goes into the landfills where it sits for thousands of years. With consumer becoming environmentally conscious there is a need to move away from plastic packaging and use more eco friendly alternatives. Most of these alternatives have been around for years. They just need a fresh perspective to add some aesthetic appeal. Here are some alternatives which are not only better than plastic, they also add to the aesthetic appeal of the product.

  1. Paper is degradable. Not only that, paper is also reusable many times: Brown paper bags were quite common until some years ago. They are now making a comeback. Paper is used to make paperboard that is in turn used to make strong boxes which are used commonly to pack small light items. Paperboard has come of age and can be used for making food grade packing as well. Paperboard based sandwich packs are quite common. Paperboard cups are also commonly used for serving beverages. These can be shredded and reused again for different (non food grade) products or can be put down for bio degradation. It is made of wooden pulp that is natural.
  2. Cardboard is a thick form of layered paper is also very common in packaging industry: Cardboard needs no introduction. It is very popular packing material in form of boxes and cartons. It comes in all sizes, for small hand held products such as mobiles and toys to large boxes well above 1 meter on each side. Corrugated cardboard boxes have good strength to handle heavy products. They can be carried unfolded, requiring minimal space and can be easily disposed off. In fact strong large cartons are now being reused at homes to make coffee tables and as storage space among other things. And they disintegrate quickly, just like paper.
  3. Corn Starch: Corn starch is used as a Styrofoam replacement in packaging. It has the strength similar to plastic. It is shaped in form of beans and peanuts for providing cushion in packing large products and in making packing trays for food items. If disposed properly it decomposes into water and carbon dioxide within months, which is much shorter than the decomposition time required for plastic. It is made from corn, which is cheap and readily available.
  4. Zip lock bags: Though these are made of plastic, they are designed to be reused. They are airtight plastic bags that can store any product, which they can accommodate. Many households reuse them for storing food products. They may not be easily decomposable, but they are definitely reusable which increases their usable life and reduces the stress on resources used to produce them.
  5. Glass by itself is made from plain silica: It is an excellent material to store food items as it is water tight, air tight and inert. It also lends a classy look to the product and well designed glass jars are quite presentable. The jars and bottles that have wind up caps instead of crowns can be reused as household storage for Jams, sources, marmalades and many other items. If nothing else, a well designed jar is used as decorative item by itself. It is not only degradable (it is just sand after all), it is highly reusable. In fact soda companies reuse most of their bottles. There’s no reason why a business cannot have a well designed glass container that lends an aesthetic look to their product and remain eco friendly.
  6. Jute has become a coming of age material when it comes to its use as packing material: It was used to make large gunny bags to carry produce and grain (such as potato, rice, wheat etc) in large quantities. But today it is being used as a chic packing material that comes in various shapes, sizes and colours. It gives a rustic, classy old world feel to the product while retaining the earthy look. It is used to pack speciality items such as Tea leaves, dry fruits, speciality wines and gift items. It certainly does lend a certain class to the product. Jute is strong and can carry good amount of weight in small size packing, making it ideal for shipping.
  7. Wood is totally eco friendly: It has been used as packing material for large items for very long time. Even though the plastic pallets all are rage in the industry, wooden pallets are still very commonly used in freight industry. Wooden crates have been used for long. With recent advances in cutting and carving tools, small wooden boxes have become popular to pack speciality items. These are now used to increase the perceived status of the product and are by themselves reusable. This makes them a very effective choice as a packaging material if you want to increase the status of your product.
  8. Various forms of metal have been used for packaging sensitive material: With recent advances, the metal, in form of aluminium cans, foils, steel cans and jars, it has again become popular. It can be reused by consumers in the home for storage, and can also be easily recycled. It has been used for packaging food products like Oils, tea and other aromatic substances that need to be kept away from light and air. The thin aluminium foils are used to pack candies and chocolates. A non reusable but recyclable form of packaging made of metal, is the very popular can of soft drink. These are crushed, melted and reused to make cans again. Metal packaging is very versatile. It has been around for a long time. With new innovation it has become cost effective and attractive.

 

Packaging can be fun. It can be reusable, recyclable and economic. Producers just need a little imagination to use eco friendly products and make their product elegant and attractive.

Warehouse Management,

Why Are KPIs Important in Warehousing & Fulfillment?

Warehouse business is a back-end operations business. You don’t control sales, only deliveries. The efficiency of the operations is the key to extracting maximum profits from a warehouse. So you need to know that you are getting maximum return on your investment in this business, just like any other business. But since most of it is a fixed model, B2B business with caveats of B2C (retail deliveries), you need to understand and measure the nitty gritty of the warehouse operations and fine tune them. That’s where the KPI or Key Performance Indicators come in.

A right det of KPIs tells you the detailed performance of your warehouse. Couple it with past indicators, your forecast of business growth and you can figure out where you are heading in future. For example if you are already at maximum space utilization, you cannot expand. A client whose business is growing very fast will need more space. If you can not offer him more space, he will go to someone who has more space. That will reduce you space utilization and also your revenue. Not to mention, you now need to get your sales to run and find a client who can utilize the now freed up space. So while on the face of it a full utilization of warehouse space sounds good, it is not good for a growing business. That is why, it is not only important to have the right KPI, but you also needs to set the right standards for those KPIs. Standards should be the ones that work for you. (Is 80% space utilization good for you, or you prefer 95%?)

Similarly, KPI also help you in benchmarking. benchmarking tells you how good you are doing as compared to others in the same industry. If your KPI is below the industry standard, that means you are not utilizing your warehouse to the best possible extent. You might be making money, but lower KPI means that you are leaving money on the table. You could get more profits by improving those KPIs. On the other hand if you are beating industry KPI but still not making money, something else is wrong somewhere. A well designed set of KPI itself would direct you to where to look. If you are beating the KPI and making money, it looks like a good sign. But it can also mean you are stretching yourself. If you are extracting higher productivity from your machines and spending less on maintenance, you might have to bear a high depreciation and replace the machines faster. If your order cycle time is very less, you might not have any contingency built into the process. That is risky.

Whether you want to stay with the industry benchmarks or set your own benchmark standards, is entirely up to you. While industry benchmarks are there for a good reason, (most of the industry works at those levels) you don’t have to be bound by them. Your KPIs will vary depending on your niche value proposition and your operating model. For example if you specialize in handling delicate products that need more space for storage, your floor utilization will be lower. Also, the KPIs for 2PL warehouse will be very different from the KPIs for 3PL warehouse.

The Supply Chain Operational Reference Model (the SCOR Model), created by Supply Chain Council, provides for over 200 KPIs for monitoring the overall performance of a supply chain. These are broken into various levels to get more granular picture of the business. Some of these could be used for measuring performance of a warehouse as well. Research them to identify which one are suitable for you. Now that we understand what KPIs means and why we should measure them, let’s look at some of the key KPIs for warehousing business.

The main KPIs for a warehouse should focus on Receiving, put away, storage, pick and pack and shipping.

Inventory Accuracy: What is the accuracy of the workers when preparing the product (or order). It is measured by taking the headcount of the items in the stock and comparing it with what’s recorded in the books. This one has direct impact on your working capital and order fulfilment capacity.

Perfect Order Rate: This measures the number of orders shipped to the customer without any incident. The incident could be damaged goods, inaccurate orders, late shipment etc. Needless to say, this one tells you how well is your warehouse operating where it matters the most, the final fulfilment of order, shipped out of the warehouse.

Productivity: This measure tells how many orders are ready to be picked up by the shipper, per hour. Depending on your warehouse business model, it could the number of orders per hour, or total line items per house or it could be the total dollar value of the orders per hour.

Equipment utilization: This one tells about how well your equipment is being utilized. Underutilization of the equipment means you should stretch it more and achieve more. Overutilization mean higher maintenance and replacement costs. Idle equipment depreciates without giving any return. Over utilized equipment can lead to breakdowns and stop the whole chain, leading to higher losses. Your equipment must be running at the optimum rated utilization to extract maximum value from it.

Cycle time: This KPI measures the total time taken since the material came in as inventory and was picked up by the shipper for delivery, as a part of the order. The shorter the cycle time, the lesser the money tied up in working capital. An end to end cycle time would include the transit and transportation time taken by the shippers for the final delivery to the customer’s premises.

Average cost per order: This KPI measures how much are you spending in running the warehouse. It is calculated as total orders fulfilled divided by the total cost incurred for the warehousing operations. The costs include the manpower costs, cost of rejects and returns absorbed by warehouse, cost of damaged products that are absorbed by warehouse, variable costs for running the warehouse (utilities, taxes, rents, insurance,), equipment cost (consumables and depreciation for large equipment) and all other costs. This should be always be as low as possible, as it eats straight into your profits.

There are many other KPI that you can measure to understand the efficiency of your warehouse operations. The finer the KPI, the deeper the control it can provide. However, at a bare minimum, you must keep an eye out for the top line (revenue), the bottom line (profits) and ROI (return on Investment).

C0-packing, 3pl, warehouse ,fulfilment

Myths and Realities of Co-Packing

Co packing, or contract manufacturing in other terms, is generally looked with an inferior eye. It is generally misunderstood that co packing is just a back-end production grunt work with no interest in the business of that product. However, truth cannot be far from this. Co packing is a highly competitive, engaging business that provides a lot of value to its clients. Here are some of the common myths that surround the co packing business.

 

  1. Co packing increases costs: Co packers are focused on manufacturing process optimization. They employ best and latest technology and developments to optimize their processes and reduce the cost involved in their processes. This subsequently means lower costs for their clients.
  2. Co packers do not have expertise: Co packers focus only on Manufacturing and Production of a subclass of a product. (e.g. in food processing, one co packer would specialize in processing of fruit products and a separate one in meat products) All the resources of the co packer are focused towards optimizing their manufacturing processes, increasing efficiency and quality of output and reducing costs and process times. Co Packers usually have the best talent focused on the process.
  3. Co packers do not invest in business: On the contrary, co-packers always strive to have the latest and the best machinery. One of the key differentiator for the co-packers is their technical infrastructure. The more modern and efficient machinery they have, the higher product quality and throughput they can achieve. It is in their own interest to invest in improving their manufacturing processes and they regularly do so.
  4. Co packers do not provide additional services: There is a general impression that contract manufacturers simply manufacture in bulk and deliver the whole bulk. However, reality is that Contract manufacturers provide many value-added services and final packaging is one of them. They provide retail size packing, labelling and collaborate with shippers to transport directly from their premises to distributor and other intermediaries.
  5. Co packing requires management overhead: The management overhead requirement really depends upon the requirement of the client. A good packer would have processes set and optimized, not just for manufacturing, but also for receiving order, raw material procurement, production, packaging, dispatch amongst others (i.e. the management processes). They would have efficient reporting already in place for their management, which is also shared with the clients. Clients gain high visibility into processes related to their products, with these reports. There really is no requirement for any overhead unless you are not confident about copackers processes.
  6. Certifications are irrelevant: Authorities issue the certificates only if the co packers adheres to the stick rules and regulations set by the authority. Certifications such as HACCP, OSHA, ISO 22000 (in case of foods) etc. ensure that there is no hazardous element in the food when it is manufactured. Certifications such as Six Sigma, GMP, TQM etc. ensure that the manufacturing practices followed by the co packer adhere to the best in industry standards. The benefits of all these certifications, which result in safer food, higher product quality and higher consistency, reduced wastage are passed on to the client of the co-packer.
  7. Co packers do not focus on quality control: Co packers are in business of manufacturing. They operate in B2B environment, where the focus on product quality and value gained from the engagement is higher relative to the B2C engagement. This means that the cost and the quality become two key parameters to differentiate on. Needless to say, co packers actually pay extra attention to the quality, simply to stay competitive.
  8. Co packing is slow and time consuming: Co packers or contract manufacturing business is a capital-intensive business. They install expensive machinery which has high fixed cost and limited operating life. It is in the interest of the manufacturer to make the most of their infrastructure to earn profits. Thus, it is in their own interest to be fast and agile churning the products quickly.
  9. Co packing means giving up control of operations: This is probably a myth from days when IT was still evolving. Today with advanced systems and deep integration into systems, the clients can have as much visibility as they desire into their outsourced operations. The limit here is client’s own bandwidth required for the oversight.
  10. Vertical integration may be a problem: Vertical integration, which means seamless transfer of material from one process to another, used to be an issue when the raw material used to go from client’s premise to co packer and the finished product used to come back to client’s premises for further packing and onward delivery. Today, the raw material can be directly shipped and stored at co packer’s premises, processed, packed and shipped to the downstream supply chain point of the client. Co packers, suppliers and logistics providers can be quickly integrated to give a seamless view of the process flow of the client.
  11. Co packers cannot scale up: Co packers are into business of manufacturing. For them growth in scale is growth in business. They keep abreast of latest developments in the field of production. Provided there is a justification for investment, co packer can scale up faster than an in-house manufacturing unit.
  1. You need to manage multiple relationships (vendor, shipper) with co packers: Co packers are not just contract manufacturers. A good co packer will have existing relationships with various other service providers in the value chain, right from raw material supplier to end shipper. If you so choose, the co-packer can work with the suppliers of your choice, or provide you with the option of working with their suppliers so that you have single point of contact for all your end to end needs. The downstream relationships are managed by the co packer himself.
  2. Co packers are only interested in transaction business: Co packers invest heavily into machinery. They like to maintain focus on improving their manufacturing capability, spending less resources on business development. They value long term strategic relationships more than transaction oriented business. Strategic long term partnership is where they can provide best value.
  3. Co packers do not do any research and development: Anyone who needs to stay competitive in any business needs to improvise. R&D is one of the key areas where co packers invest not only to improve their processes, but also to improvise on the products, should their client choose to.
  4. Lowest cost co packer is best co packer: Cost in an important factor, but as any businessman knows, it is only one of the factors of a successful business. Efficiency, quality and consistency are equally and sometimes more important than cost. Low cost product does not necessarily mean the best the best value product.
  5. I and my competition cannot use same co packer: Most co packers work with multiple clients. This helps them increase their utilization, keep the costs low and absorb and evolve best practices in the industry. Co packers are professionals who maintain segregation of not only your product but also maintain the secrecy of your formula from your competitions. In fact, since same machine is used for both, you and our competition the cost actually goes down, if you and your competition use the same co packer.
  6. Large co packers are the cheapest co packers: The general perception that bigger is cheaper is hardly true. Large units need large piece of lands and are located at remote locations. The transportation cost alone can eat up any gains made due to large facility. Further, a large setup needs to have a large number of units made in a single production run, otherwise it is not economical. If your production runs are smaller, the large unit will actually turn out to be more expensive.
  7. Co packers don’t understand the Market: Co packers are heavily dependent on the market environment. They understand that if the market of their client goes down, their business goes down too. So, they keep a constant watch on the markets of their client and also recommend changes and future direction to their clients. It is in their own best interest to understand where the market is heading, to manufacture relevant products.
  8. There’s no need to consider the Co packer in your strategic growth plan: A good co packer, will work with you to define and refine the production process, best suited for your product. He will make investment in his plant to accommodate your growth needs. Sharing and including him in your growth plans, not only helps him to plan his growth, it also provides you the benefits of reliable partner and ongoing reduction in costs.
  9. They are just a co packer: They can be much more than just an outsourced manufacturer. They can take up both upstream and downstream activities in value chain. They can make investment to scale up, as your business grows. They can also provide research and development facilities right next to manufacturing facilities. This makes a lot of sense as R&D can have direct input from manufacturing and vice-verse. You can leave all of these to your co packer, while you focus your energies into your core skills. They can be your true business partner.

 

Co packers add value when a business wants to focus its energies in its core competitive skills and delegate the product manufacturing operations to the experts. In fact, that is how many of the successful businesses operate today. Can you imagine, how Nike would operate if there was no co packing?

Packing,packaging, attarctive packaging, essential packaging

Essentials of Packaging Design

You have created a superb product. No doubt it will serve the needs of the customer well but it still needs to reach the customer and it must reach him/her in top condition until it is time to use it. This is the primary function of packaging: To keep the product safe and intact until it is time for the customer to use it. However, it is just one of the functions that packaging serves. An effective packing should do a lot more than just keep the product safe. It plays the following roles to name a few.

 

Function – Packaging should be able to protect your product and keep it safe right from the point of manufacturing, throughout the transit, to your customer’s premises until he is ready to use the product.

Attraction – Packaging should be able to attract your potential customers into purchasing your product. The customer should be enticed to pick your product amongst the available options.

Promotion – The packaging should tell what is being offered and exactly what’s inside. Any information that will help the customer to make his purchase decision should be displayed clearly on the packaging.

Differentiation – The packaging should be unique amongst the comparable or similar products. It should be easily differentiable from the other competitive products.

 

Let’s look at some key points to bear in mind while designing the packaging.

 

Keep it Simple: The packaging should make the decision-making process of the customer easier and simple. The customer should be able to identify your product quickly and easily. If you are launching a new product, then the name, brand, description and other vital information should be easy to read and help in attracting customers.

 

Stand out from competition: You need to attract customers. For that your packaging should be different from your competitors. Scour the market and see how your competitor is packing its products. Figure out what innovation can you use in your packaging. The shape, colour, texture, anything can be used to differentiate your packaging from your competitor’s packaging.

 

Use good quality material: Show that you mean business when it comes to caring for your product. Good quality material conveys a premium image. It says that the product is so good that it deserves high quality packing. Besides this, a high quality material ensures that your product is not spoilt during transit or storage.

 

Enhance user convenience: Will it be better in a bottle or a plastic pouch? Hardcover or soft cover? Think from customer’s perspective. What would be easy for him. For example, if it’s ketchup that you are selling, should it be in glass bottle or plastic squeeze bottle? Remember Harpic? The nozzle design helps in reaching under the bowl’s rim. That’s a great design.

 

Describe the product use and abilities: But do not exaggerate. Never overstate the abilities of your product. If the product does not meet it stated capabilities, it will not only turn away existing customers, but will also turn away future customers. Just state the facts and promise the attainable results. If your product is good the word of mouth publicity will do its work and increase your sales.

 

The text should be legible: The text on the packaging should be large enough to be read clearly. It should be printed in contrast so that it’s easy on the eye. Choose the font, size, colour wisely. These not only help pass the information, but can be used to build a brand image. For food and medical products, the ingredients and expiry dates should be very easily locatable and clearly readable. If your product is packaged in a transparent packing and the product itself is carrying this information, the make sure the product is oriented properly so that the information in clearly visible.

 

Be target specific: Identify who is your customer. Who are you selling to? If your answer is everybody, then you need to do more research. Identify the segment of the market that is your target audience. Design the packaging keep that audience in mind. Just as one product does not work for every segment, same packaging will not work for every segment. It could be the material of packaging, the design, or even as simple as colour combination. So, identify your core audience and design your packaging for them.

 

Provide different packaging sizes: Some like to buy in bulk, others like to buy smaller quantities, because they won’t use it regularly, or like to shop frequently. Perhaps they are travelling and prefer carrying smaller packaging. Others don’t like to shop frequently or are cost conscious and like to buy large quantities. Provide various options of packing sizes to your customers. For example, in shampoos it’s always good idea to provide small 10-20 ml bottles up to 200 ml bottles, so that new customers can try your product and the regulars buy larger bottles.

 

Freshen up your packaging: There is no product that will continue to sell forever with same packaging. Customers are finicky. They get bored quickly. They like to see new things. Keep freshening up your product presentation. Use contemporary shapes, designs and colours. Try to freshen up your brand.

 

Packaging is the first touchpoint your customer has with your product or your brand. While its primary purpose is to protect the main product, it is also a great medium of marketing. There is no reason why you can’t be creative and entice the customer with your packaging. You just need to be creative and know what your customers like to see.