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Packaging sector, innovation take center stage at RISI’s annual European conference

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Packaging sector, innovation take center stage at RISI’s annual European conference

March 18, 2015 - 23:17

BRUSSELS, March 19, 2015 (PPI Europe) -The packaging industry had a place of honor at RISI's 17th annual European conference which took place in Amsterdam on March 9-11. This year's event, entitled "Helping the Forest Products Industry Make Better Decisions" tackled a wide range of pulp and paper (P&P) industry issues and put a special emphasis on the packaging sector, including a new packaging market seminar.

When it comes to the packaging paper industry, speakers stressed the role of innovation and the need for suppliers to address and adapt to the end-user or buyer market.

"Millennials - those born between 1980 and 2000 - are the next consumer group for retailers and brand owners to win over," said Stora Enso senior packaging adviser Ohto Nuottamo during his presentation. For millennials, packaging is an important part of the brand experience and purchasing decision, Nuottamo said, adding that they value sustainable packaging, specifically fiber-based packaging, throughout the value chain.

Indeed, there is a market drive to develop sustainable, novel and convenient packaging, using responsible techniques, Kuraray America's Pablo Garcia said during his presentation. "There is an industry drive to revitalize the role of paper products by adding commercial value in new markets, he added.

To that effect, the UK packaging innovation consultancy ThePackHub's co-founder Paul Jenkins presented current trends for fiber-based packaging, including things such as sustainable and on-the-go packaging, packs delivering added functionality and that are easy to open, those with a personalized offering, or packs which attract attention on the shelf.

The founder and CFO of the firm Ecologic Julie Corbett presented a concrete example of new opportunities for innovative products, spotlighting a paper bottle made from recycled materials that could be used to replace plastic or glass. According to Corbett, the paper bottle, which is already in the marketplace, has registered significant interest. In one instance, a company which made the switch from a plastic to paper bottle saw its sales rise by 72% over a six-week period.

Innventia director, market, Fredrik Rosén also presented some "beyond the box" innovative products in 3D and 4D fiber-based packaging. According to Rosén, Innventia's FEX complete pilot-scale papermaking facility will be able to run "3D paper" trials on its pilot paper machine from autumn this year.

Boxboard to face China challenge: In terms of packaging paper markets, RISI economist, European forest products, Alejandro Mata gave a comprehensive outlook on the major trends on the containerboard market in Europe. Mata presented his two-year European forecast for demand, supply, trade, availability and profitability for virgin and recycled containerboard packaging papers as well as major changes in the corrugated market. According to Mata, emerging markets remain the main drivers for growth in these markets, even though this growth is slowing down. He also noted that western Europe is to become a larger net exporter, partly due to increased self-sufficiency in virgin grades.

Looking at the European cartonboard market, RISI VP packaging paper Ken Waghorne said that the global
boxboard markets will experience a significant transformation during the next two years, having to swallow the
massive Chinese capacity increase in coated boxboard. China has become a net exporter of boxboard and its surplus will grow, Waghorne said. He added that western European exports outside of Europe are at risk of displacement by Chinese ivory board.

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