PACE: Packed With Insight

28 February 2007 (Last Updated February 28th, 2007 18:30)

The industry faces increasing challenges including the demand for cost-efficient, effective and sustainable packaging. No wonder, then, that the PACE Forum was such a well-attended event. Matt Willey provides an overview.

PACE: Packed With Insight
The second PACE Forum was an excellent opportunity for packaging decision-makers to participate in one-to-one meetings and network with their peers.

As snow descended on the rest of Europe, the opening of the second PACE
Forum was treated to glorious sunshine. Renowned for its opulent venues, the
second international Packaging and Converting Executives Forum carried on this
fine tradition. Set in the beautiful Westin Paris Hotel overlooking the Rivoli
gardens, delegates converged to discuss the latest trends, issues and
developments in the packaging industry.

Chris Hayward, managing director of ViB events, a division of SPG Media,
opened the proceedings by welcoming delegates to the PACE Forum on behalf of
ViB and its conference partner, PIRA. He also explained the unique format of
the one-to-one meetings scheduled between buyer and supplier delegates.

Approximately 150 senior packaging industry professionals from 15 countries
participated in more than 670 formal face-to-face meetings. In fact, the event
provided over 72 hours of concentrated networking opportunities for those in
attendance.

In addition to the business meeting programme, a full series of workshops
and seminars gave attendees the opportunity to gain valuable market insight
and, in the case of the workshop meetings, discuss and debate issues and trends
with their peers.

PLANNING TO INNOVATE

Michael Sturgess, head of strategic consulting at PIRA, and Andy Rushforth,
PIRA's head of global business development, opened the seminar programme with a
presentation on the importance of organising and preparing for innovation in
package design and development. While stressing that innovation was the key to
competitive advantage, Sturgess emphasised the importance of adequate planning
in order to achieve the desired results.

PIRA has been working with packaging companies to understand the innovation
landscape. Sturgess summarised PIRA's findings in his presentation, pointing to
a somewhat confused approach to innovation. While most companies view
innovation as a vital part of their business model, they disagree on where the
responsibility for it lies within their organisation.

The presentation also discussed where innovation should stem from in the
supply chain. While packaging suppliers often rely on their clients' ideas for
design, positive change is more likely if suppliers and brandowners have a good
working relationship. Brandowners have indicated that they want to deal with
innovative suppliers and that price is no longer the main deciding factor.

Brandowners are increasingly demanding a new relationship with their
suppliers, one where brandowners and suppliers communicate across many
corporate functions. This view is shared by the supplier market, which has
expressed frustration at the lack of interaction.

Sturgess told delegates that innovation needs to be a major focus for
today's businesses: "Innovation is not a one-off, it is a constant
process."

PACKAGING IN ASIA

Rusforth's presentation focused on the opportunities and challenges posed by
outsourcing to Asia, particularly China. Although the average amount spent by
Asian consumers on packaging is currently just half that spent in the West, it
is rising rapidly. According to PIRA research, the Asian share of the global
packaging market was 27.5% in 2005, and is projected to rise to 36% by
2010.

"Packaging innovation needs to be a major focus for today's businesses, it is not a one-off, it's a constant process."

The key drivers for this surge in growth are improved GDP and increased
consumption of pre-packaged foods, especially in China and India. Rushforth
also highlighted the growth in Western-style retailing, which is rapidly
replacing traditional markets and affecting consumption behaviour.

In analysing the Asian market, Rushforth reminded brandowners to be aware of
the sophisticated and widespread counterfeiting in the region. He said the
quality of fake products is now so high it is practically impossible to
distinguish them from the genuine article.

Counterfeiting was a common topic of discussion throughout the seminar and
workshop programme. For instance, Dr Elkhart Koch, director of brand protection
at Thomson, covered the importance of combining digital and physical security
for track and trace and authentication in packaging and labelling.

One of the key themes at the forum was sustainability and
renewable packaging. PIRA's Michael Sturgess used his workshop to ask whether
packaging can ever be sustainable, a question which was hotly debated by the
attendees. Although they didn't come up with a solution, they did all agree
that sustainability is here to stay.