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“Packaging is the last mile salesperson”

By Satarupa Chakraborty | January 22, 2018

Uflex Limited is India’s largest fully integrated multinational flexible packaging materials and Solution Company which is known for shaping the contours of the industry both in India and Overseas. Uflex has recently commissioned the very first truly Indian Aseptic Liquid Packaging Material Manufacturing Plant at Sanand, Gujarat. Point of Purchase caught up with Mr. Rajesh Bhatia, Global CFO of the organization to understand about Asepto and the importance Uflex attributes to Innovation and Research & Development.

Tell us something about your latest range for liquid packaging.

We have recently commissioned state-of-the-art aseptic liquid packaging material manufacturing plant at Sanand, Gujarat. This is the first ever truly Indian aseptic packaging project.ASEPTO - as we have chosen to call thebrandwill cater for packaging solutions for non-aerated liquids like milk and other dairy products, juices & health drinks and distilled beverages.

If you look at the aseptic packs globally, they all look just the same. There is no differentiation so to speak. There hasn’t been much development on the aesthetic side of liquid packaging over the last three decades or so. In case of ASEPTO we are making the most of our in-house Holographic and Engineering capabilities to fill this need-gap.

Besides pillow, trio and brick formats (in volumetric range 65 ml to 1000 ml) that are standard offerings in the aseptic packaging segment, we also offer two value added product ranges namely Asepto Spark and Asepto Premium.

Asepto Spark offers a unique range of holographic and metallic packs giving customers countless possibilities of modifying their existing designs or creating a new brand proposition for their existing line of products. Asepto Spark enhances the aesthetic and functional elements of the aseptic carton packs giving them a distinct identity at the point-of-sale (POS). In case of Asepto Premium, the metallic look achieved through flexo-printing technology is further accentuated by foil stamping, embossing, precision stamping, 3-D Fresnel Lens, multi-lens holographic effects etc. making the packs absolutely distinguished. These are some of the very many features that will give the much needed face lift to the aseptic packs that they have been lacking for all these years now. These enhanced features on the packs will tremendously enhance the visibility of liquid brands in an already inundated super market and brighten the sales prospects.

What have been some of the recent innovations by Uflex?

Innovation to create value added differentiation is the raison d’etre of Uflex- India’s largest multinational flexible packaging materials and Solution Company across the entire spectrum of flexible packaging requirements. It will not really be possible to mention all our innovations over here; however a few recent path-breaking ones are mentioned hereunder:

  • We have engineered thinnest PET AlOx super barrier polyester film. This is a transparent film with Water Vapour Transmission and Oxygen Transmission Rates both less than 1;
  • We have launched the game-changer in pharmaceutical packaging. The Nylon and PVC films in a typical/ conventional Alu-Alu substrate have been replaced by special proprietary patented polyester film that our films business has engineered;
  • We have recently developed flexible packaging material with anti-microbial properties. In this the sealant layer is compounded with special anti-microbial properties. In successful tests the shelf life of sandwich has gone up from 3-4 days to 8-9 days at room temperature;
  • Uflex has launched Extended Shelf Life Aseptic Flexi-Pouch Machine for packaging milk that extends the shelf life of the product up to 90 days;
  • Uflex has developed Active Modified Atmospheric Packaging solution FlexfreshTM liner packaging bags for substantially extending shelf life of fresh fruits, vegetables and flowers, so much so that they can be exported through economic sea-freight.

How important is the role of R&D in bringing out these innovative solutions? Can you please also elaborate on Uflex’s R&D efforts?

Innovation to create value added differentiation is a way of life at Uflex and the foremost guiding business principle. The flexible packaging industry in India is growing at around 20% per annum and has been dynamically evolving in terms of value addition. Keeping pace with requirements from our global clientele, we have covered substantial ground towards innovation and continue to do so. Innovation is inalienable to Research and Development which we stand strongly committed to.

All Businesses at Uflex have their Research and Development wings. I am pleased to let you know that we have an extremely collaborative approach with our clients and they actually make the most of our R&D Labs and Production shop floor to come up with absolutely bespoke flexible packaging solutions.  All employees across the organization are encouraged to ideate for improving our products and processes. The Heads of Business at Uflex play a very important role in collating thoughts and suggestions shared by their respective teams and putting them to good use. This is huge wealth after all!

How does packaging aid shopper marketing for a brand?

A4. Packaging forms the very first tryst of the product with the shopper at the Point-of-Sale and therefore I often call it the last mile salesperson of a brand. A lot of responsibility vests on the shoulders of this salesperson in the modern-day super-market. At the Point of Purchase where Above the Line (ATL) Marketing ceases to function, all the pull has to be exerted by the packaging of the product. Over the years role of packaging has extended much beyond to just serving as the skin of a product. A good packaging reflects the ethos and values of the product. Packaging should highlight all the essential information about the product that will help the shopper making an informed purchasing decision. These days many brands opt for packaging with a transparent window so that the shopper can actually see the product packed inside before making a choice. In the day and age we live, packaging is thoroughly adjudged on the following parameters: Aesthetics, Functionality, Barrier Properties, Anti-Counterfeiting Features and Sustainability Quotient.

With the advent of smart phones, brands are making the most of Internet of Things (IOT) using Near Field Communication, QR and other types of Scan Codes on the packaging that give a lot of information about the product on the shopper’s hand held at the super market. Just to quote an example a popular corn-flour pack when scanned through an I-phone also returns some interesting cake baking recipes. Thus packaging has to catch the attention of the shopper and engage out and out to transform a purchasing interest to a fructified transaction.

 

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