Corrugated packaging companies have been urged at an international industry conference to take advantage of the improving economic climate by continuing to modernise, if they are to meet future challenges and remain one step ahead of their competitors. More than 300 top packaging professionals from around the world attended the prestigious European Federation of Corrugated Board Manufacturers (FEFCO) summit held in London during June 4-6 2014. Several speakers addressed FEFCO’s two-day conference, including Roberto Villaquiran (CEO, Corrugated and Converting Division Smurfit Kappa) who opened the Summit. Other top speakers included Paul Earnshaw (Packaging Manager, Tesco), Alison Coudene (European Procurement Group Manager, Nestlé), James Walton (Chief Economist, IGD), Miles Roberts (Group Chief Executive, DS Smith), Gary McGann (Chief Executive of Smurfit Kappa Group), and Dr Jan Klingele (Managing Partner, Klingele Group). Themed ‘Re-igniting the Flame’, taking its inspiration from the successful 2012 London Olympics, many important topics were discussed at the Summit including the 2014 challenges facing the Corrugated Industry, how to improve end-user perceptions and the impact of EU legislation. The importance of corrugated partners working with customers to understand their future needs in an evolving retail world was emphasised by speakers from the retail sector on the second day of the conference. In his speech, Tesco’s Paul Earnshaw said: “We need to engage with the packaging supply chain because packaging offers us a huge opportunity. But the corrugated industry needs to identify the benefits, not the features, of their packaging, and put the consumer at the centre of everything they do”.
Alison Coudene of Nestlé told the audience: “Packaging has a critical role in reducing waste and complexity across the supply chain. We also need the corrugated industry to help us differentiate ourselves with innovation”. Corrugated’s qualities in terms of printing, design, hygiene, logistics, sustainability and protection are renowned, while its flat printable surface is ready-made for exploiting digital platforms, such as smartphone apps and Quick Response (QR) codes, meeting consumers’ growing appetite for instant access to product and dietary information. FEFCO President Roberto Villaquiran reminded the audience in his presentation about the key properties of paper-based packaging. These encompassed a number of facts including being human friendly, renewable, recyclable and its excellent sustainability record. “It protects, promotes and performs but it has untapped potential. We believe that paper is the future of packaging. Through differentiation and customer centric activity we can deliver sustainable and profitable growth,” he told the packaging VIP attendees. FEFCO’s Secretary General, Angelika Christ, speaking afterwards, summarised the great feedback many attendees had given, thanks to the fantastic work of FEFCO’s Communication Committee and the eye-catching programme. The Secretary General is confident that FEFCO will continue to gather and spread reliable information, and identify the key trends that are affecting the corrugated market, such as zero defects, packaging for e-commerce, print-on-demand, digital printing food safety and EU legislation. Ms Christ concluded: “The Summit provided a wonderful opportunity to share knowledge and involve all the players from the supply chain. I would especially like to thank all our sponsors for their support.”