UK processors are demanding more innovation from their packaging suppliers to support the launch of new products for expanded markets, according to a survey.
The survey reveals that the food and drink industry has ambitious plans to deliver new products on the market over the next 12 months, according to easyFairs, an exhibition organiser.
About 65 per cent of the companies surveyed say they plan to launch new products over the period, 45 per cent are moving into new markets and a quarter will expand their overseas sales.
easyFairs surveyed about 100 UK food and drink manufacturers.
"As food and drink companies grapple with the twin challenges of reducing their cost base and expanding their businesses so all aspects of supply are being scrutinised," said Haf Cennydd, show director for easyFairs Process, Pack and Track Food show."Suppliers who help them respond to these challenges will be rewarded with far more mutually lucrative relationships."
The survey found that manufacturers are looking to the packaging industry to develop materials and machinery they need to produce and market their products.
About 45 per cent say they want to reduce their materials usage, 40 per cent want faster packing lines and over a third want to introduce a new innovative pack format.
The research showed that environmental issues such as reducing waste are key priorities said Louise Findlay-Wilson, a spokesperson for the group.
For instance 30 per cent say a priority is to improve waste management, 21 per cent will spend at least 20 per cent more on waste reclamation and management during the year ahead, she told FoodProductionDaily.com.
Another 24 per cent are looking to improve their environmental impact across all areas including packaging.
"The findings could certainly be applied to producers in wider Europe as many of the companies had overseas operations as well as in the UK and the bulk of those taking part were large food companies," she said.
About 30 per cent want packaging to provide greater product differentiation in the market, the survey found.
To deliver on their plans 25 per cent plan to forge a strategic alliance with a packaging supplier. About one in ten will expand their current food and drink processing site and 10 per cent expect to merge with or acquire another company.
Although over half are feeling the heat from cheaper overseas competitors, and as a result are looking for cost reductions, only 39 per cent report that budget is holding back decisions on packaging innovation. About 24 per cent reported that they will be moving to cheaper materials during the year ahead.
"Indeed, well over a third of the food and drink companies questioned said they would like much greater innovation from packaging suppliers - and 12 per cent feel their packaging suppliers are too complacent," easyFairs stated. "Packaging companies who don't respond to this agenda will miss out."
Food and drink companies also revealed a real appetite to invest in packaging over the year ahead. During the year 25 per cent plan to make substantial investments in labelling, coding, printers and smart packaging. About 30 per cent will spend more on packaging machinery in a drive to deliver cost savings, improved throughput and shelf standout, easyFairs stated.
Almost a third are on the look out for new materials, 36 per cent xpect to be working with new suppliers over the next 12 months and one in five are looking for fewer but deeper supplier relationships, the survey found.
easyFairs organises Process, Pack & Track Food South (24-25 May) and Process, Pack & Track Food North (14-15 June 2006)