The role of packaging technology in a post-COVID world
Progressive Grocer|June 2020
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The role of packaging technology in a post-COVID world
THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC HAS SPURRED A FRESH SPURT OF GROWTH IN FOOD RETAIL AND E-COMMERCE, WHICH WILL CATALYZE THE DEMAND FOR RECYCLED FLEXIBLE PACKAGING IN THE FOOD AND BEVERAGE INDUSTRY.
Atit Gandhi, Director, Montage Group

Earlier, people in small towns had to come to a city to buy a big brand. With the convenience that flexible packaging offers in terms of lightness, flexibility, and durability, transporting products or brands to the smaller towns or rural parts of the country has become much easier. This has also helped the growth of retail and e-commerce to smaller towns.

Also, as the coronavirus pandemic rages unabated across the world, there is now more awareness today about the significance of buying packaged products, especially when it comes to food items. People have come to realize and understand that packed foods are safer in comparison to products/produce sold loose. While the coronavirus pandemic has certainly created a higher awareness about flexible packaging, the online retail boom that the crisis has fuelled has also created a big disruption in our shopping and consumption habits, especially among the rural folks who had hitherto been in the habit of buying loose.

So, until a decade back, people in small towns and rural places used to buy most of the staple items such as salt, sugar or oil or atta in loose. There were issues of hygiene, spoilage and wastage due to the lower shelf life of loose items. However, thanks to the widespread use of flexible packaging today, rural and small towns have started buying packed, branded stuff of higher quality. In the immediate future, packaging technology will become so flexible that people will buy more of packed rice and wheat, which will be much healthier, compared to loose.

Flexible packaging over the past two decades has been growing in double digits and due to the factors mentioned above, will continue to grow impressively into the new decade. In advanced markets such as Europe and the US, nothing is sold loose. That’s why the per capita consumption of packed food products and packaging as a whole is much higher abroad than in India. The percapita package consumption in India is still very low at around 9 kg in comparison to the Western markets, which is above 40 kg as per industry statistics. So, the potential for deeper penetration of packaging and higher adoption of packed food products in the country is tremendous!

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June 2020