Ashwin Moorthy looks at how dairy industry packaging has changed and what we can learn …
Packaging is increasingly required to adapt to consumer and environmental pressures, and the dairy sector is often cited as the industry leader for this innovation. Other packaging production firms, particularly the detergent sector, can learn from this. Having worked in the sector for 20 years, I’ve seen how far the UK packaging industry has come and particularly how the dairy packaging industry has stood out. As consumer demands have changed over the years, the packaging industry has responded accordingly and this has never been more apparent than in the dairy sector.
There are two clear areas in which the dairy packaging industry leads innovation, and can act as an example: reacting to changing consumer demands and by offering more environmentally friendly options. Enhanced consumer knowledge means expectations of packaging have been re-defined. Consumers want to know more about where their package and product originates from, and, thanks to the wider range of alternatives available, they can choose the most eco-friendly option.
Whilst recyclability is often now front of mind when choosing a product, consumers are also showing increasing interest in the detail. These emerging trends are often forecast in the UK dairy packaging industry, which has always been one step ahead. Nampak began re-designing the classic milk bottle in 2008. After a four year journey, it introduced the Infini bottle which is up to 25% lighter than a standard bottle and has up to 30% recycled content. These environmental trends can easily be transferred to other sectors and we see examples in the detergent sector and other household goods. Although detergent packaging is often recyclable, different brands’ environmental credentials are increasingly compared on consumer websites. Brands must show they push environmental boundaries with improved design.
There will always be product differences to overcome and one size never fits all. Ideas must be trialled, tested and tailored to fit. Challenges appear in the speed needed to take an innovative idea from concept to market. Patent protection is also crucial. The milk bottle market is shaking off its reputation of only creating plastic waste. We have reached a point where these considerations run through everything we do. If other sectors replicate these tried and tested models, the entire industry can work together to achieve these common goals.