Column: Market analysis
Changes on the beverage chessboard
Considering the world-wide consumption, the outlook for beverage market is positive. Demand should overcome recession and grow by 2% in 2009. European market of non alcoholic canned beverages gains +5%. The demand is pushed forward by East Europe. As far as packaging is concerned, for the canned soft drinks market, the year 2008 represented a raise in 5%, i.e. the total of 52 billion units. The data provided by the business association Beverage Can Makers Europe suggest that it was East Europe that played a leading role in the dynamic growth of the demand. While the Czech Republic market noted a growth of +18% the average of Western Europe is +4%. The Great Britain, having reached 8.5 billion units, proved to be the largest market, followed by Spain.
If it was available in stores, 41% Czech consumers would preferably buy milk in glass bottles. As many as 46% consumers would preferably buy yoghurt in glass. In the segment of yoghurts, glass is the most preferred packaging material with both Czech and European consumers. These findings result from an extensive research carried out by the InSites agency for the European Container Glass Federation (FEVE). The extensive research participated in by 6200 European households, is one of the most complex to have been carried out in the packaging industry. It took place in twelve European countries including the Czech Republic.
Current topic: food packaging
When the packaging drives meat products sales
The growing number of manufacturers as well as products in the segment of meat products on the market results not only in varying quality of goods, but often also in different ways of packing. The most frequent types of packaging are trays and sacks as well as skin packs. In the Czech market, to a limited extend, one can encounter smoked meat packed in folding boxboard. Yet, the primary means of packing meat products is flexible packaging in the form of natural intestine or plastic foil. Although it may not be obvious at the first look, development in this area is fast and the offer of packaging is quickly growing.
What has been achieved by the movement of organic farming and by manufacturers of organic food in the past fifty years is nothing short of a revolution – social, economic, environmental and even spiritual revolution of institutions which govern our society led by economy figures and consumerism. We will probably all agree that the 3% share occupied by this segment within the food-market of developed economies means that the fight has only begun. The concept of environmentally friendly packaging is facing the identical challenges the organic movement faced in the times when it was shifting from cooperative stores in the country and from small farms and independent shops with healthy products to the shelves of large stores.
TTD packs esprit
The company Cukrovary a lihovary TTD, a.s. (Sugar factories and distilleries TTD, joint stock company). is the largest processor of sugar beet and sugar-manufacturer in the Czech Republic. The company also produces granulated dried beet clippings, food processing spirits and recently also renewable source of energy, bioethanol. Part of the company is the sugar refinery in Mělník, which started production over 130 years ago. In 2003, sugar production was replaced on the site by a packaging centre, which, along with appropriate store house economy belongs among the biggest in the country. Yearly, over 80,000 tons of sugar is being packed into consumer packaging on the premises. The trade mark of the company TTD is the optimistic slogan “Esprit for life”.
Main topic: Labelling, coding
Revolutionary RFID solution
The company active-id introduced a new generation of active RFID technology which can trace all measurable characteristics of transported goods and transmit the information, including the individual tags’ own ID, through an autonomous network of tags themselves (so called Slave tags) all the way to the so called Master tag. The master tag is equipped with TTCP/IP hub for connection to the existing infrastructure, or, in mobile version, with GSM/GPRS module, which sends data collected from all Slave tags to server application. From there, the data can be reported using an email client, a Win client or WinMobile client. The master tag is equipped with an integrated GPS module.
The usage of RFID tags and labels has not had the tumultuous expansion the prophets of this technology envisioned several years ago. Their advantage compared to bar codes is the possibility to change information content, they are easy to read even if scratched or dirty (antenna or the whole tag can be painted over, which, compared to bar codes, makes it easier for RFID tag to be integrated into the design of the packaging) and the possibility to read multiple items of goods practically simultaneously for instance content of the shopping basket.
The promising method of manufacturing RFID tags is printing. Breakthrough in the area of printing of whole tags including chips is yet to come. Tag antenna can be manufactured in three different ways: by direct print of silver conductive paint, by subtractive and by additive process. The direct print method employs almost exclusively paper and
plastic substrates. Rotation screen print is most frequently applied.
In the present times of economic crisis when all parties of the supplier- purchaser chain have been forced to cut costs, the issue of smoothness of transfer of goods through the register has been raised. Certain chain stores thus approached GS1 Czech Republic with request of close collaboration. GS1 Czech Republic is the only company in the Czech Republic which bears responsibility for administering the GS1 System. This has launched a series of control testing right on site of individual stores. Although the tests have not been completed yet, after gathering data of several thousand items of goods, it can be said that the results are alarming!
Bar code has become such an inseparable part of the packaging that it no longer attracts the attention it deserves. It is best to illustrate its importance on the long queues of customers in stores and the moment in which the bar code cannot be scanned. The organisation GS1 Slovakia, which is the administrator of bar codes for the Slovak Republic, in cooperation with Coop Jednota Slovensko s.d. carried out research aiming at assessing the impact of low quality bar codes on the speed of customer service.
The research was carried out in two phases. The first phase focused on gathering information about non-quality codes from cash register operators themselves. The answers were provided by 28 establishments which identified 371 problematic products. The second phase of the project consisted of observing work at a retail store. The aim was to measure the time scanning of products took. Based on detailed analysis it was possible to classify bar codes into three categories: quality bars, low quality bars and indecipherable bars.
Printed codes that cannot be forged…
Bar codes in various forms, formats and sizes can be found in vast majority of consumer goods, logistics, archiving, identification documents, and elsewhere. They are widely accepted form of labelling. Their standard form can be misused by photocopying or scanning by common office equipment. Forging Nicanti bar codes for secure labelling, brand protection or system track and trace is, according to the statement of the manufacturer, almost impossible. The Nicanti system provides protection of products, documents and packaging against forging and is suitable even for mass print production.
Europe’s largest conference on RFID, RFID Europe, organized by IDTechEx in Cambridge on the 29th and 30th September, tried to illuminate how RFID combats recession and what is to come in the future. The IDTechEx estimates say that the value of the whole RFID market will grow to 5.56 billion USD in 2009 as opposed to 5.25 billion USD last year. Even sales grow – this year’s estimated sales of tags are around 2.35 billion USD as opposed to 1.97 billion tags sold last year. How is this possible, considering the fact that introduction of RFID in supermarkets flopped and the plan to introduce identification cards in Britain is about to be abandoned?
Each year, goods worth billions of EUR is forged worldwide. The statistics state that after the trade in narcotics, weapons and human trafficking, forging represents, from the point of view of revenue, the most profitable trades of the so called shadow economics. Forged items are not only bank notes, valuables or brand name goods but also computer software, films, music, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. One of the effective means of protecting goods, packaging and valuables from forging is holograms.
Column: Manufacturers, suppliers
Cardboard packaging in the automotive industry
Although the global decline of industrial production influences the production of packaging, car parts still belong among the important commodities in the packaging market. From the construction point of view, packaging becomes more sophisticated. This trend goes hand in hand with the demands on easy handling characteristics of the packaging. In the automotive industry, the two materials that have been keeping top positions from the point of volume for many years are plastics and cardboard. Despite all advantages of plastics, cardboard is a very successful competitor, especially considering its reusability and recyclability.
Expanded thermoplastic polymers are made on the base of homo- and copolymers of styrene, polyolefins (especially PE, PP), PVC and other macromolecular substances. They are valued in packaging technology particularly for their isolation and muffling characteristics, combined with their low weight. This determines their usage in the area of immobilisation materials, where they significantly reduce the scale of risks affecting the product. A big trend in packaging technology is foam-like polyethylenes, the classics is expanded polyethylene. Other materials that provide wide range of application in the area of transportation packaging are polyurethane foams and different kinds of polymers.
Variable shelving units
It is no longer true that shelving units are used just in archives and for stocking files. Nowadays, we can encounter them in pharmaceutical industry, in stocks of electro technical materials or in storing small car parts. Shelving units are employed in spaces requiring fast access to small sized goods. Their usage is rather broad.
Metallic effects via cold plating
For making metallic print effects, the method traditionally applied have been the so called hot plating, print by metallic paint or MFX paint. The innovative method of metallic print is cold plating. The technology entitled InlineFoiler Prindor brings further possibilities for metallic effects and is incorporated in the printing machinery. The in-line processing shortens the overall duration of print.
Column: Packaging and education
Asia – acute lack of packaging specialists
Asian printers and packaging manufacturers compete for business with global players. Transnational corporations such as Pepsi Co., Coca-Cola, Nestlé and P&G announce multimillion investments, local brands seek cheaper suppliers. The demand for packaging is speeding up and Asia is facing acute lack of staff with proper specialised training.
A packaging institute exits in almost every European country. Somewhere, they are private for profit or more often none profit organisations, in other places they are parts of state structures or institutions of public service supported by state budgets. Most often, they assemble companies (from packaging manufacturers to suppliers of packaging materials and machinery and printers), some are based on individual membership of packaging professionals. Core activities of these institutes are providing information, holding professional competitions, conferences and seminars, protecting interests of the profession against the state, suggesting legislative changes and also judging, testing and certifying packaging. Some institutes are primarily research subjects.