According to McKinsey, the COVID-19 pandemic has reshaped the megatrends buffeting the USD 900 billion-a-year packaging industry. As the world manages through—and begins to emerge from—the great public-health and economic crisis, the company expects these megatrend shifts to change packaging design in fundamental ways.
In line with these major shifts, HN spoke to Edgard Bou Kheir, market development manager, at INDEVCO Paper Containers, a division of INDEVCO Group that operates solid and corrugated board manufacturing and converting plants across the Middle East, North Africa, and Europe, to know more about the new markets dynamics.
How do you believe COVID-19 will impact your industry when it comes to catering to the F&B and hospitality sectors?
The F&B takeaway and delivery packaging industry is one of the few industries that will emerge with a positive outcome from the COVID-19 pandemic. Mobility restrictions, social distancing concerns, and the partial opening of restaurants – either only as delivery and takeaway in the first phase or with reduced capacity in later phases – have all factored in increasing the demand for takeaway and delivery order, which in return has pushed the demand for packaging material. However, it is important to note that the gain of the takeaway and delivery section on the F&B and hospitality was only a partial of the loss in the dine-in section.
What new trends will we be seeing?
In terms of packaging, safety and hygiene, will be the new keywords, as we will see an increased number of solutions that would offer safe delivery of products from the supplier to the end user. Other trends will include solutions for reduced physical contact between the vendor and customers, in terms of payment, delivery, or any other transaction.Dining-in areas are also expected to change significantly, with more usage of technology, as well as automation and ‘robotization’ of services.
What are the most on-demand products that you are now supplying, but have not been in demand prior to COVID-
E-commerce products and food relief boxes.
Are you communicating with stakeholders to highlight new packaging requirements?
Since the early days of the pandemic, our innovation center initiated the development of new lines as a proactive approach to the possible disruption in the market. Once the pandemic had set and the main trends were starting to ‘appear’, we started contacting our key customers to coordinate and collaborate with them on solving the new challenges that they are facing. At the same time, we kept a close eye on the global markets challenges and solutions.
Do you have a new product range? Tell us more about it?
As a response to the pandemic, INDEVCO Paper Containers launched three lines that serve very different objectives. The first is the distancing line, which are products designed to offer a physical barrier for employees sharing the same workplace. Similar lines were rolled out by various global players in the corrugated packaging industry. The second line is focused on delivering groceries or other catering products in a safe way, leveraging the corrugated packaging attributes that were found to have the shortest lifespan of COVID-19 compared to other materials. The third line target is to serve the e-commerce business, a sector that was significantly boosted by the pandemic. The e-commerce line offers various solutions to the SMEs that are most benefiting from this sector’s growth. The e-commerce product line is being promoted via our own e-commerce platform UNIPAK The Shop (Instagram, YouTube)
Do you think this pandemic will disrupt the packaging business on a longer term basis?
The packaging industry, as with all the other industries, will be definitely affected by this pandemic, and we will see key long-term adjustments from the various stakeholders within the supply chain. The changes will focus on speeding up traceability and safety related innovations, two features that are already buzz words in the packaging business.
Where do you see your business in the next few years?
INDEVCO Paper Containers has always been at the forefront of innovation and development in terms of packaging, and we believe that this trait will help us ensure that our companies across the Middle East will continue to lead the way in innovative packaging solutions whether be it for the F&B and hospitality or other sectors.
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