An increase in raw material prices can be tackled with New Product Development (NPD), according to film manufacturer KM Packaging.
Graham Holding, commercial director, KM Packaging, told FoodProductionDaily.com manufacturers face challenging times, but redesigning packaging can cut back food and packaging waste and save money.
“Our customers are caught in a difficult situation between supermarkets, who don’t want to pay any more for anything, and the reality of manufacturing where costs have risen,” said Holding.
Good printing techniques
Manufacturers could be tempted to opt for cheap packaging, he fears. Poor designs would mean products lose their appeal on the shelf, and low quality materials lead to leakage and food waste.
But investment in NPD could help food producers if they waste less food or reduce packaging.
One area for development, Holding says, is removing cardboard sleeves and using printed lidding film instead. This reduces packaging and removes a stage on the production line.
“One of the reasons people use cardboard sleeves is you can buy then on short lead times, and you can accelerate or turn down the supply chain rapidly. The lead time of film is longer,” he said.
“There is some good printing for lidding films. If you want to drive out the supply of cardboard sleeves you’ve got to develop a supply chain that is flexible and responds to what the consumer goes and buys.”
A recent survey by Mintel showed up to 25% of grocery budget is spent on gourmet products. NPD can give food manufacturers an up-market package and product without a high price tag, added Holding.
“We developed the Superguard Oven, which is two webs of flexible packaging. Manufacturers use it to put in a chicken breast or fish fillet with a marinade or sauce.
“It’s a high end product because you’re adding value with the sauce and marinade, and consumers don’t have to touch anything raw, you just put it on a baking tray and it cooks. The packaging is very lightweight so there’s no big weight for packaging, transportation or disposal.
“You potentially have less packaging and less resources consumed.”
Holding says both food suppliers and researchers need to work on NPD.
“The real cost for manufacturers is in the food: 90% of a product cost can be the food itself, and packaging is tiny proportion of the overall cost. We try to find ways to reduce waste, because food is expensive.”
“If packaging can increase a 10 day shelf life by one day, that’s a real cost saving for manufacturers.”
“We have to ensure all members of the chain link up, combining our research and development and technical skills to come up with options the market demands.
“Retailers may be focused on price but they want top quality too. We need to overcome the market challenges and give retailers – and consumers – the right product at the right price.”