Packaging industry revamps strategies in post-Covid world

Consumers “rewired” mindsets have paved the way for sustainability in the packaging industry

by

Somshankar Bandyopadhyay

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Approximately 62 per cent of Gen Z consumers prefer to buy from sustainable brands. - Supplied photo
Approximately 62 per cent of Gen Z consumers prefer to buy from sustainable brands. - Supplied photo

Published: Fri 28 Apr 2023, 9:13 PM

Last updated: Mon 1 May 2023, 4:19 PM

The Covid-19 pandemic has paved the way for more innovative solutions in the packaging industry to meet consumers’ needs and demands, research shows.

Traditional consumer patterns have changed, and consumers’ mindsets and behaviour have been “rewired” during the lockdown to adapt to the current circumstances.


According to data from Tetra Pak Arabia, approximately 62 per cent of Gen Z consumers prefer to buy from sustainable brands, similar to millennials. To meet these market demands, a business model needs to adopt sustainable packaging, recycling, and replacing single-use plastics. “We have been working to make our packaging more sustainable, focusing on innovating in plant-based food and beverage packaging using raw materials such as paper fibres from wood and plant-based polymers from sugar cane. Tetra Pak is also striving to create the future of food and beverage packaging, which is made entirely from renewable or recycled materials, and that is fully recyclable and carbon-neutral,” Niels Hougaard, Managing Director, Tetra Pak Arabia Area, told Khaleej Times in an interview.

In addition, consumers are seeking tangible and measurable value for money. “To make food and beverage products more affordable, reducing the product size could be a solution. Additionally, creating on-the-go versions of products can be an innovative way to meet current consumer needs, as snacking and eating on-the-go are becoming more prevalent,” Hougaard said.


Statistics show that 63 per cent of shopping occasions start online, and digital channels impact 77 per cent of retail sales. As a result, connected packaging is expected to be the next significant area of innovation for packaging manufacturers. “It is highly desirable to guide consumers online through the products they purchase, providing informative content such as nutrition facts, interactive games, or the ability to plan their next shopping list. The potential for connected packaging in the future is unknown, but it is a promising area that is worth exploring,” Hougaard said.

Niels Hougaard, Managing Director, Tetra Pak Arabia Area. - Supplied photo
Niels Hougaard, Managing Director, Tetra Pak Arabia Area. - Supplied photo

Tetra Pak plans to achieve net zero in its operations by 2030 and across the company value chain by 2050. “According to the 2022 Sustainability Report, we have reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 36 per cent, increased our solar capacity to 5.55 MW, and obtained 80 per cent of our energy from renewable sources,” Hougaard said.

Tetra Pak recently partnered with Nuitree to establish a dedicated plant-based manufacturing facility in the UAE that provides end-to-end processing and packaging solutions.

Last year, Tetra Pak invested €40 million in cardboard collection and recycling and partnered with UPM, UAE’s leader in paper recycling, to build a commercially feasible collection and recycling value chain for used beverage cartons (UBC) in the UAE. Tetra Pak is expected to assist UPM with UBC’s recycling capabilities including the technology needed to install and operate a pulp line at UPM’s facility in Dubai, with technical know-how in recycling plants, and to facilitate cooperation between waste management companies and UPM.


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