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Sidel on current developments in the packaging market

Source:Food Manufacturing Journal - Middle East

Date Published:12/12/2019 11:12:41 AM

Sidel Vice President Sales, Beverages, MEA&I, Mr Harbinder Kathuria talks about the packaging market in the Middle East, Africa and India region, and shares the company’s experiences at the Gulfood Manufacturing event.  

Sidel took part in Gulfood Manufacturing held from October 29-31 at the Dubai World Trade Center, receiving close to 300 visitors to its booth. The company which has been in the business since the 1960s, provides equipment and services for packaging liquids to manufacturers in the food, beverage, home and personal care industries.

At the trade show, Sidel stressed on its capability to deliver digitalisation, technology innovation, and line performance to customers in the Middle East, Africa and India (MEA&I). Its aseptic PET bottling solutions and complete lines for water are just a few technologies in its portfolio.

During an interview with Food Manufacturing Journal - Middle East, Mr Harbinder Kathuria, Vice President Sales Beverages MEA&I expressed confidence about developments in the market, and spoke about their experiences at the Dubai event.

Harbinder Kathuria, Vice President Sales Beverages MEA&I

Harbinder Kathuria, Sidel Vice President Sales Beverages MEA&I

Tell us about Sidel’s presence in the Middle East market, and some recent successes in the region.

The Middle East, Africa and India (MEA&I) region represents a dynamic marketplace: a 6.5% Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR), equivalent to an additional 35 billion units, is expected across all beverage categories by 2021.[1] The fact that this positive trajectory is foreseen to be accompanied by a rise in PET bottling across the entire region presents Sidel with opportunities to further leverage our long-standing expertise as a complete solution supplier. However, as a leading provider of equipment and services for packaging beverage, food, home and personal care products in PET, can, glass and other materials, we are, of course, set to expand our presence in the region across all types of packaging.

One of our latest customer successes from the region is linked to Rayyan Water, who opted for a new complete line from Sidel to address the steadily growing demand for premium bottled water in glass on the Arabian Peninsula. This came on top of two complete Sidel PET lines Rayyan installed years ago, which are still in operation in their plant. Sidel supported the leading player from bottle qualification to line requirements onto delivery and performance of the solution, lowering Total Costs of Ownership (TCO) and overall energy consumption.

Furthermore, in Saudi Arabia, Almarai, the leading producer of liquid dairy and juice products in the Middle East, recently installed two complete PET lines from Sidel to reap the benefits from the booming juice market in the region. Looking for a solution able to ensure greater efficiency, strengthen profitability and optimise TCO, Almarai opted for the Sidel Combi, integrating blow moulding, filling and capping processes into a single system. This has resulted in a reduction of operating costs by up to 12%, saving on manual labour, raw materials, and spare parts.

How is the company meeting the growth in the region’s food and beverage market?

Within the predicted positive trajectory for the beverage markets in the MEA&I region, the rising beverage sales volumes are expected to be largely dominated by bottled water: between 2019 and 2022 this segment is expected to feature a +11.9% CAGR in overall market volume. Juices and Liquid Dairy Products (LDP) will be other drivers behind this development.[2]

In the Middle East, this positive trend will additionally be driven by Expo 2020, taking place in Dubai, while the bottled water segment in particular is also set to grow in Africa and India within the next two years. There, due to steady efforts to make safe water more accessible and affordable, the bottled water consumption is forecast to increase by ten litres per capita between 2018 and 2021.[3] We can expect similar developments in the upcoming years, as population is growing in parallel with urbanisation and consumers as well as visitors and workers from abroad look for clean and pure water. It is furthermore important to mention that consumers are becoming ever more health-conscious. We are witnessing this trend globally, and ME makes no exception. They want to reduce their sugar intake, which leads to more nutritional beverages and smaller size packages on the rise. This is also pushing for the introduction of new flavours by soft drink brands, proposed at a lower price point than carbonated soft drinks and deemed healthier, together with drinks with no preservatives, fortified milks and plant-based alternatives. To address all of these trends accordingly at Gulfood Manufacturing, we focused especially on our leadership in aseptic PET applications and complete lines for water, leveraging on our decade-long expertise in these fields and positioning Sidel as the partner of choice for producers in the region.

Looking beyond beverages, on a global scale we are also noticing that PET has been increasingly adopted as the packaging material of preference in the home and personal care markets. This holds especially true for the bath and shower, hair care, laundry and surface care categories, but also for the food market – namely across sauces, dressings, condiments and edible oils. The latter are packaged in PET in nearly 75% of cases across Asia, Oceania and Africa.[4] This segment is also where we have successfully collaborated with B.L. Agro Industries Ltd. in India, where we have installed several complete lines for edible oil to meet the rising demand in the market. Our offering for these industries , naturally, was also part of our display at Gulfood Manufacturing, where we also payed close attention to our innovative and agile End-of-Line portfolio, showcasing our latest packing and palletising solutions as installed at the Unilever factory in Dubai. Last but not least, we also demonstrated at Gulfood how Sidel is walking the sustainability talk, which is extremely relevant to the FMCG packaging industry and at the core of our collaboration with plastic converters in the region.

In particular, what can you say about plastic recycling in the Middle East? How concerned are customers about sustainability?

When talking about plastic recycling in general, it is important to firstly note that the negative public image of plastic packaging is particularly fuelled by evidence of marine litter. The main root cause for this is poor consumer habits and collection. Good management of waste means collection, followed by reusing or by recycling.

Waste collection marks the cornerstone of a circular economy, which aims at avoiding the leakage of waste on lands, in rivers and oceans. Accordingly, a good collection system means proper infrastructures and legal frameworks to support it. As they are quite different from one country to another, this results in great variance in the collection rates, no matter whether for PET, glass, cans, paper or carton. However, countries with deposit systems are the ones performing best with regard to this aspect.

Globally, PET is the most collected plastic material, bearing a significant economic value. A bale of PET bottles can range from 300 to 600 €/ton, depending on its quality and on market demand – a demand which is very high today. In addition, there are recycling streams which are especially developed for PET, compared to other thermoplastics. Process-wise, recycling is currently mainly leveraging mechanical processes: here, PET bottles, once sorted, undergo a series of grinding and washing steps. Then, another recovery step follows to retrieve the PET’s original properties and use it for direct food contact applications. So, in general, we need to consider PET as a resource, not as waste. Technically and industrially, packaging materials such as PET, can, glass, carton paper and many other thermoplastics can all be recycled. However, it is worth to notice that PET is the only plastic packaging material that can be recycled bottle-to-bottle, no other co-polymer offers this advantage. Packaging materials which are recyclable, by priority back to their original use from multiple use, closing the loop several times (i.e., bottle-to-bottle), should be preferred to the ones recyclable “only" to a different application (bottle to fiber / bottle to tray / bottle to strapping).

At Sidel, our commitment to sustainable packaging is underpinned by three pillars. First, we are optimising current packaging with our Rightweight™ program to ensure that the package is minimised but still maintains its technical properties and the high consumer appeal; secondly, we lead the ref-PET segment, with technology available and a worldwide reputation in this market; lastly, we are designing to recycle, for instance, by closely monitoring recyclable barrier systems and adherence of our packaging solutions to local regulations.

One of the proof points of the eco-friendly innovations Sidel is continuously launching in the market is the latest 500 ml PET packaging solution for non-pressurised still water – X-LITE™ Still. This design is compatible with rPET, as long as the quality of the rPET is appropriate. According to the blowing tests Sidel performed under industrial conditions, X-LITE Still can contain between 25% and 50% of rPET, yet ensuring the same quality and performance of the bottle as with virgin PET. Plus, as the world’s lightest bottle for non-pressurised still water, Sidel X-LITE Still dramatically reduces the consumption of PET resin: compared to bottles weighing 12 g, the innovation can save 1,485 tonnes of PET per year, while generating energy savings of up to 335,000 kWh/year. Combined, these reductions amount to 3,000 tonnes of CO2 saved, which equals 25 round trips between New York and Paris by a 200 passenger plane.

Another interesting reference of our commitment to bring a true circular economy of packaging to life is the goal we recently met by partnering with Sukano, a global specialist in the development and production of additive and colour master batches and compounds for polyester and specialty resins. Here, we have technically proven that making light barrier white opaque PET bottles from recycled material is possible – and can be done at the same throughput. The collaboration demonstrated that light barrier white opaque PET bottles can indeed be up to 100% bottle-to-bottle recycled, going back to the same application or being upcycled and used for new added-value outlets. In essence, we saw no measurable difference in processing conditions or blowing output while processing the 100% recycled white PET material from Sukano-designed white master batches, even under the most challenging conditions.

Looking at the Middle Eastern countries, we have seen a lot of discussion and movement around recycling plastic waste in the past couple of years. This is due to these countries lying well behind the EU’s recycling rates, especially the Gulf States still have quite a way to go in this regard.[5] Countries in the region have long recognised the tremendous business potential and scope for growth of plastic recycling, acknowledging the fact that plastic waste is to be perceived as a resource rather than waste.[6] Therefore it is not surprising that they are ramping up recycling efforts and investing in waste technology.[7] However, in this they are still struggling to overcome certain obstacles, such as changing the public’s mind-set to motivate citizens to recycle their waste correctly, so that it can easily be processed for reutilisation[8]. We should always remember that the problem is that the collected plastics must not only be clean, but also sorted according to their various types, to then be handled through proper recycling streams.

Despite notable investments in the past years into recycling infrastructure and facilities, these poor collection rates lead to another obstacle: the simple fact that there is not enough raw material, i.e. plastic scrap, to make optimum use of these resources. Accordingly, the local Middle Eastern recycling units need to have modern machinery and know-how, a sound system and an optimum level of production, which is not possible at present as the region does not have the necessary quantity of raw materials.

What were your impressions of the recent Gulfood Manufacturing, as to buyers’ interests and concerns in beverage packaging?

This year, once again, Gulfood Manufacturing has proven to be the ideal stage where to showcase our market-tailored technologies, powered by Agility 4.0 and complemented by performance-based services. We had a very successful show and are quite happy with the contacts we made.

The show is the place where the roadmap for the industry in Greater Middle East & Africa over the coming years is decided upon, driving business and innovation. This is why, for Sidel, it remains the ideal platform to live our brand promise of Performance through Understanding. To us it presents a valuable chance for the direct exchange with our clients and prospects in the region; helping us to deliver our proof-of-concept that, by combining global expertise with local proximity, Sidel can support local players as well as international producers, co-packers and brand owners achieve long term superior performance throughout the entire lifecycle of their packaging lines.

In short: Gulfood Manufacturing remains a key exhibition for Sidel, allowing us not only to introduce innovations but, importantly, also to receive vital feedback from our customers to those innovations and ensure that we maximise the potential of our investment.

How did Gulfood Manufacturing visitors to your booth find using the IdentiKit? What was the response for the Super Combi, and the rest of the innovations on-site?

This year marked Sidel’s fifth time participating in Gulfood Manufacturing. Our focus was especially on highlighting our leadership in aseptic PET bottling solutions, complete lines for water – including Sidel Super Combi – and our latest additions to our filling portfolio. Beyond that, we were also showcasing our solutions in complete lines for edible oils, sauces and dressings, along with our End-of-Line portfolio and our services offering. With approximately 300 visitors to our booth, we were not only able to generate a fair number of new contacts and leads, but also a number of new deals were signed directly at our booth during the show. These successes speak for themselves and prove to us that we have hit the nerve of the trade show visitors with our displayed solutions.

With our offering for water bottlers in the spotlight, the Sidel Super Combi – integrating preform feeding, blowing, labelling, filling/capping and cap feeding in one single smart solution – attracted a lot of attention among visitors, especially due to its built-in intelligence and the productivity benefits it offers. Talking about liquid dairy products, as well as juices, isotonics, teas, and all sensitive beverages, our unique FDA-approved Sidel Aseptic Combi PredisTM with dry preform sterilisation technology, was another highlight at the Sidel booth.

Many visitors were also eager to learn about the tremendous advantages created by Sidel Actis™, our proven plasma coating technology, currently accounting for more than five billion bottles produced across CSD, beer, juices, tea and coffee. By presenting the successful experience of one of our African customer – StrongPack, a leading Nigerian co-packer – we impressed our prospects at Gulfood about how this technology enables the extension of a PET bottle’s shelf life by up to five times while offering significant lightweighting opportunities. This is obviously bearing great value for beverage producers facing challenging climate and/or logistical conditions along their value chain.

Other Sidel highlights at the show this year were the latest additions to our filling portfolio for can and glass – EvoFILL Can and EvoFILL Glass, expanding the advantages offered by the Sidel Matrix™ platform beyond PET. Namely, the new EvoFILL Glass stood out with a number of improved features which guarantee highest flexibility and hygiene to medium to high speed output bottling lines. The solution manages a wide range of filling levels without the need for probe adjustments and features fully automatic bottle height changeovers for enhanced uptime and top product quality.

Last but not least, thanks to Sidel’s IdentiKit software, visitors had the opportunity to design their own bottles, appreciating how the system can help them shorten lead times to introduce new products, thus providing the flexibility needed with today’s fast-changing consumer demands. In fact, packaging increasingly plays a key role in any marketing mix; it must be eye-catching to differentiate brands in the marketplace with dependable performance all the way from concept to consumer. Sidel’s IdentiKit is a truly interactive tool to tease manufacturers on how we apply our 40-year PET packaging expertise to support their business and brand objectives: from the initial, unique design to package optimisation, from qualifying performance to ensuring food safety and reducing production costs, therefore delivering long-term superior performance.

By MARIJO GONZALEZ, Editor, Food Manufacturing Journal-Middle East

 

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