It is the manufacturing brands that really drive packaging innovation. They communicate their concerns and needs to suppliers in the packaging industry to drive new developments that improve the sustainability, functionality and user experience of their packaging, as well as the cost efficiency of production, logistics and distribution. This is why Hispack wants to give them a voice in its next edition. Through the Boosters Programme, around fifteen companies from different sectors will participate in the Hispack Unboxing knowledge space, sharing their packaging strategies with visitors.
Mercabarna, a benchmark food hub in Europe
Mercabarna brings together more than 600 companies specialising in the distribution, processing, import and export of fresh and frozen products. On the one hand, as a bridge of public-private collaboration, it acts as a manager of spaces, markets, infrastructures and services to facilitate the supply of food products to the agri-food chain. On the other hand, it acts as a dynamising agent for the agri-food sector, promoting innovation and sustainability and business projects that seek greater competitiveness.
Its general manager, Jordi Valls, opens the doors to a food city with 24-hour activity.
Which sectors and profiles do you collaborate with?
The wide range of companies located in the Mercabarna hub and their diversification in products and channels allows us to tackle projects with different sectors or clusters such as the energy, logistics and transport, HORECA and packaging sectors, among others. The profiles range from technology companies, research centres such as Eurecat, Leitat or IRTA, to universities such as ESADE or the UPC. Collaborations with other administrations also allow us to take on projects in the field of training, while in the field of food utilisation we have collaborated with organisations such as Caritas, the Food Bank and the Red Cross.
In terms of packaging, how do you help them and what tools do you make available to them?
We have held various sessions, both with research centres and with regulatory administrations in this field, with the aim of providing companies with the maximum technical and regulatory information in terms of packaging. The aim is to create a space for debate where manufacturers, packaging companies and customers in the distribution of agri-food products can see the challenges posed by this important aspect of food distribution from a shared perspective, bringing together different points of view such as sustainability, food safety and aspects of marketing and consumer information.
Do you detect any common needs or trends in product packaging?
Both the fruit and vegetable wholesale sector and the fish wholesale sector agree on the need for improvement projects in packaging pooling systems or circular economy processes in packaging. The aim is to improve the sustainability of the process and the efficiency of the logistics and marketing of the food product. In the case of fish, for example, the projects being considered are looking for alternative solutions to porex packaging, which has very good thermal and transport properties, but with clear shortcomings in terms of the environment and waste recovery.
Consumer trends and purchasing preferences, both of the end consumer and of the distribution channel, stimulate innovation with results that go beyond the merely normative at the level of European regulation. Packaging or the printing of biodegradable labels are innovative challenges that are very present in the Mercabarna companies, whose clients are above all the large distribution chains.
Are you implementing any sustainability measures?
Sustainability is an intrinsic part of Mercabarna’s strategy and a cross-cutting theme. We understand sustainability as a systemic reality in which the collaboration of the entire value chain is necessary.
We would like to highlight the photovoltaic energy and sustainable cold distribution projects we are working on, as well as the different circular economy projects in food products. The latter have an impact on both the environmental and social spheres, as in the case of Mercabarna’s initiatives in terms of the use of food or sustainable and local products.
They will participate as Boosters in the next edition of Hispack. Can you give us some ideas about the talk you are going to give?
The talk aims to give a global and synthesised vision of all the sustainability projects we have mentioned and which have an impact on different areas of the company and the Mercabarna agri-food hub, such as energy, circular economy, but also those with an impact on the social and human capital of the agri-food distribution sector in the Mercabarna area.
Beam Suntory, global commitment to sustainability
Beam Suntory was created in 2014, a union between the world leader in bourbon and the pioneer in Japanese whisky, and is the third largest spirits group in the world. In Spain, it has 3 of the top ten best-selling brands: Larios, DYC and Anís Castellana, and markets more than 20 products.
We spoke to Alberto Lozano, Head of Direct Purchasing and Integration at Beam Suntory.
It is striking that a company like Beam Suntory, in the spirits sector, has such a strong discourse on environmental and sustainability issues.
Indeed, our purpose as a brand goes beyond what we produce and market. In this sense, we have three pillars that constitute the pillar of the company and on which we act: care for the environment, responsible consumption and good performance in the community.
When it comes to the environment, we want to reduce our environmental footprint and to do so we have to change the way we interact with the environment. We have developed programmes to clean up rivers and forests in different countries, we have set ourselves the goal of reducing water consumption by 50% per unit produced by 2030 and reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by the same year.
In terms of responsible drinking, we advocate clear communication with messages that promote responsible choices and the reduction of harmful drinking.
Finally, Beam Suntory in Spain, through its corporate responsibility area, develops an annual social action programme thanks to the initiatives received from its employees and collaborates with different associations and NGOs. Globally, there is a commitment to reach one million volunteer hours per year.
As sustainability is a cross-cutting issue, how do you implement it in packaging?
Packaging is one of the key elements in terms of sustainability. In my own experience, different elements and multidisciplinary teams involved in the different stages of the process have to be brought together. In this sense, the Purchasing team has to make packaging producible and cost-effective without sacrificing our values.
In our case, the packaging consists mainly of 4 clearly differentiated parts: the glass container, the capsule, the label and the carton. Glass is an inert material, it does not modify the taste or colour of our liquids, a fundamental aspect for us. We count on the fact that it is the main reference for our packaging and as a benefit it is 100% recyclable and has infinite recycling cycles. In addition to their recyclability, reducing their emissions is another priority we are working on, with the incorporation of renewable energies in their production, improving efficiency and lightweighting, as well as optimising transport. Our challenge continues with other elements such as the capsule or the label, as by 2030 we have set ourselves the target of making 100% of our packaging recyclable and with a recycled content of 40% by weight by 2030; in the case of glass and cardboard, recyclability is already a reality.
How important is packaging for your products?
Packaging is a determining factor and accounts for a quarter of our total carbon footprint. It is the first impression you have of a product or brand. We work to integrate sustainable packaging with a visual identity in brands such as DyC or Larios, which are well established in the end customer’s imagination. Our focus is on offering a quality, sustainable product, coupled of course with a good price and service.
We currently have more than 10 projects underway to improve the sustainability of packaging, either through a change of material, a reduction in overall weight, a change in design that involves cost efficiency in production or a different manufacturing process that takes into account a lower impact on the carbon footprint.
The talk he will give as part of the Booster programme is entitled “How to transfer sustainability to my purchases”. Can you give us any further details?
This is the first time I have participated in Hispack and for us it represents a unique opportunity to showcase our company. Beam Suntory’s sustainability goals, how we work with suppliers on a daily basis to align and achieve them together, and how we are able to apply them in our purchasing and new brand developments will be presented.
Careli, R&D at the service of the circular economy
Careli is a Catalan family business created in 2007 that manufactures cleaning and personal care products under the premise of maximum respect for the environment. Its products are marketed under the brands Flopp, for domestic hygiene, and Careli Cosmetics, a more recent creation for personal hygiene.
Ferran Vaqué is the head of Sales and head of New Projects, and he will participate as a speaker through Hispack’s Boosters programme to present Careli’s strategy in the field of packaging. Below, he previews some of the topics he will address.
The concept of circular economy is embedded in the company’s DNA. How do you translate this into packaging?
Packaging is no different in this respect, as we are looking for recyclability, reusability, reducing materials and reducing the amount of plastic on the market.
Our Flopp range clearly achieves a lower environmental impact throughout the product life cycle – by using fewer raw materials, saving on water and energy, minimising the carbon footprint and using highly concentrated products. In addition, they have less use of hazardous chemicals without sacrificing the same efficacy as conventional products and are labelled with instructions for correct environmentally friendly use.
In the case of the Flopp Eco range, with Ecolabel certification, its doypacks are 100% biodegradable and compostable.
As for Careli Cosmetics, our contribution is the launch of a new range in Refill system, so that the packaging is water-soluble capsules designed for use in reusable bottles. The capsule is placed in the water-filled bottle and shaken until the capsule is completely dissolved.
They have received numerous awards for their innovative packaging. How do you approach the packaging design process?
In the best household packaging category, we won a Liderpack in 2018 and 2020, as well as a WorldStar in 2019 and 2021, among other awards. For us, innovation is essential to create sustainable products throughout their life cycle, not just in terms of packaging. For example, there is little point in reducing the amount of plastic if the material that replaces it is not recyclable. We learn and innovate as we seek new solutions to the challenges we face.
What challenges do you face in maintaining your commitment to sustainability?
In our case, we work with already formed packaging, and as we are not packaging manufacturers, we sometimes have difficulty finding materials and proposals in line with our philosophy. What we tend to do, in some cases, is to co-develop packaging with small manufacturers, but this in turn leads to high prices due to the small volumes we handle. On the other hand, we must not forget the rising prices of some raw materials such as paper, cardboard or PCR plastic, and the long delivery times they have. Moreover, innovation is sometimes ahead of existing legislation and regulations, so we call for a clearer and more agile regulatory framework when approving new packaging solutions. Last but not least, we also need to provide more information to the consumer on waste management.
Cristina Benavides, Hispack partner