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Market focus: paper & board

Lars Scheidweiler business manager of Sappi SBB Cartonboard and Marie-Ange Gérard, marketing communications specialist at the manufacturer, talk to Converting Today about the challenges and opportunities facing the paper sector


Converting Today: What are the main issues facing the paper industry today, with particular emphasis on packaging, and how are you addressing them?

Lars Scheidweiler/Marie-Ange Gerard: The consumer packaging arena is highly competitive and products are fighting for survival through premiumisation. This is where brand-owners use higher quality, more creative-looking packaging, with more demanding designs, for greater value perception to communicate a premium message. With 70% of purchases impulse driven it is increased shelf shout that will help deliver those all-important sales.

This differentiation is aimed at enhancing customer loyalty and generating more sales by making products more inviting. Choosing
the right packaging materials is a vital element in the marketing mix. There are certain categories in which consumers are expecting more value for money, which needs to be communicated one way or another, otherwise it becomes price versus price.

What are the key pressures packaging printers are facing in terms of substrate demands?

Corrugated packages are ideal marketing communication tools for POS packaging. This approach goes hand in hand with using
multiple colours for printing, which is particularly strong now in the liner market for corrugated boxes, shelf-ready packaging and displays, microflute consumer packaging, and electronics goods packaging.

There has been a consistent increase in multiple colour printing from the 1980s to 2010 that has seen the market grow from 3% to 20%. In the 1980s, brown corrugated boxes with a single-colour logo were the norm whereas today three or four colours are more frequently used. As the amount of single-colour printing decreased, substrates that could be printed with a number of colours increased in parallel. So too did demand from brand-owners and marketers for options that could help deliver the all-important shelf shout for their goods.

They are no longer talking about just single-colour branding. Multi-coloured corporate identification is as important in actual product packaging today as it is in point of sale, marketing and even annual reports. The need for an identical look now impacts every element of an operation. With white coated grey or brown boards there will be shine-through in the coating which makes the surface less white and the colours less striking compared with the product pack – be it plastics film of FBB or SBS cartonboard.

How has that impacted your product development?

Sappi has answered this demand with Fusion, a premium quality, high bright, white liner that out performs standard white-top liners and lifts products above the existing competition. Whiteness is clearly a quality key performance indicator. Fusion consists of white bleached virgin fibre profiting from the prestigious white grade background Sappi is renowned for. It delivers much more brilliant and vivid colours – perfect for executing clear and crisp logos and pictures.

These tie in with changes in printing trends that are driving the need for high performance substrates. Printers are upgrading machines, particularly in the offset market, up to seven colours. Fusion has been designed to bring out the utmost quality regardless of whether the process used is flexographic, digital or offset.

What other considerations are essential in a grade’s developments?

With Fusion marketers can enjoy a new look and touch that is much closer to content and display packaging. It carries a higher value for money perception, a clearer basis for differentiation and a unique selling proposition. As a result, end-users can develop a completely different image.

Other added benefits include minimum orders of 3,000kg, perfect for more bespoke runs, and significant savings in glue consumption during lamination, reducing humidity and curling while speeding up drying times – allowing diecutting to take place immediately.

What are your future plans for supporting the packaging market?

Our latest development follows collaboration with Innovia Films to create a compostable substrate that can bio-degrade in less than
three months. Innovia Films’ NatureFlex and Sappi’s Algro Nature combine traditional technical properties and equivalent packaging performance.

Both are manufactured from renewable resources, wood sourced from managed forests, while NatureFlex also provides a moisture barrier that can be tailored to meet the requirements of the product to be packed and an excellent gas barrier. Using both grades enables customers to choose from a range of weight and finishes.

Sappi SBB Cartonboard