With regard to beverage processing, what are some trends that you see at the moment?
In the JNSDIT category, industry forecasts for the region indicate a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5.5 percent over the period 2016-2020, while LDP are projected to grow by 4.6 percent. PET is already well established as a popular packaging material in many Asian countries, and— not surprisingly—JNSDIT and LDP categories are expected to see the largest growth in consumption: increases of six and 10.9 percent respectively. So the opportunities for beverage producers serving the region’s needs using PET as a liquid packaging material are considerable.The beverage market in the Southeast Asian region has remained strong over the past few years, with juices, nectars, soft drinks, isotonics and teas (JNSDIT) and liquid dairy products (LDP) performing particularly well.
Trends in consumption reflect those throughout the rest of the world and include the emergent trend of ‘premiumisation’. Responding to consumer demand for products which are perceived to be more exclusive, producers are looking to manufacture goods which reflect this special quality in terms of both the beverage and its packaging in order to differentiate it from other products on the supermarket shelf. There also exists a move towards healthier, more natural drinks, typically known as ‘sensitive beverages’.
The sensitive beverages category presents particular challenges in terms of ensuring product safety without compromising on attractive bottle design.
What do you think is likely to continue or change this year?
The beverage industry is facing new challenges, mainly driven by the influence of e-commerce and—in parallel— the establishment of new consumer journeys at the point of sale. End users are growing more selective—demanding products with greater individuality, personalisation, variety and convenience—with more product launches in the liquid packaging market every week.
To help producers cope with these changes, complete line solutions (such as those by Sidel) can serve, as they are more connected, smart, flexible and responsive. This helps to deliver optimum performance for beverage producers, along with the lowest total cost of ownership (TCO), through a more holistic approach to the installation of new bottling lines.
Talking about other global trends taking place in the food and drinks market, industry research suggests that they will include a move towards products with authentic links with tradition or history. The unpredictability of life today and the fast pace of change are leading people to seek comfort in products that are recognisable rather than revolutionary.
For instance, in a recent survey in China, 67 percent of adults aged 20-49 who have purchased breakfast products in the previous three months, claimed they preferred to eat familiar Chinese breakfast foods. However, the move to past familiarities should also lead to innovations that use the past as a source of inspiration for products that seem new but are linked with traditional taste.
The increased attention towards a healthier diet will bring about more formulations based on plants and the cost of beverages will be as important as ever as lower income consumers also strive to improve their diet and lifestyle. The need to fit in with people’s hectic lifestyles will result in an increase in fresh and nutritious shortcut solutions and today’s drive for sustainability should result in a greater focus on eliminating the waste of foodstuffs in our production processes.
Of course, nobody can be exactly sure when, if and how far these anticipated changes in consumer behaviour will affect the various markets but that is the situation that the industry faces now. For beverage producers, the key factors in their ability to react to change will still be the flexibility, speed and cost-efficiency of their production lines and their time-to-market capabilities.
What is most important about beverage processing in your opinion?
Today’s consumer is growing more selective—demanding products with greater individuality, variety and convenience. For the beverage producers, this generally means the need for increased flexibility and more productive uptime in their PET bottling line, with the market challenge to produce innovative and different drinks resulting in shorter production cycles and faster changeovers.
Faced with this growing pressure to continually adapt and change, beverage producers need to monitor equipment efficiency in order to identify bottlenecks in the manufacturing process to ensure optimum productivity.
They must also control system performance to maximise uptime across the line and implement sustainability measures—as they become possible—to lower the consumption of energy, raw materials and other resources, at the same time minimising costs.
Ultimately, it is about achieving improved line performance, whatever the product, while optimising TCO, by working with a liquid packaging solutions provider that can offer a complete portfolio.
Additionally, with distribution looking for more customised delivery methods and increased responsiveness, and people now showing different purchasing behaviour, the packaging industry needs to find new ways to improve line operations in terms of speed, efficiency, flexibility and versatility.
Industry 4.0 is currently a much-discussed topic in manufacturing. Often used in combination with ‘smart factory’, this term highlights the trend for an increasing use of automation, cyber-physical equipment and computerised systems for the acquisition and processing of data. Rather than allowing simply for mass production for instance, this also allows for mass customisation.
What are your thoughts on green manufacturing and what changes do you foresee in the coming year, or in the next 5-10 years?
In beverage packaging, sustainability continues to be a major focus. Forecasts for 2030 suggest that demands for energy will have increased by 50 percent, food by 50 percent and water by 30 percent—alongside these are also the additional pressures brought about by an increasingly urban population.
This means that finding ways to optimise the planet’s resources in meeting those demands will only intensify, and with it, the need to ensure that the packaging we employ can contribute to that sustainability agenda.
PET has a vital role to play. The responsible use of virgin PET across the supply chain can bring immediate and significant sustainability benefits. Extending that beyond the virgin resin, PET in its recycled form can be reused time and time again, reducing consumption of what is a finite resource.
Low energy consumption, as part of companies’ ongoing commitments to improve sustainability, is certainly an important driver. There is also a growing need within the beverage industry to balance economic performance with environmental concerns and reducing energy consumption of the production equipment is a key factor in this equation.
With the heating lamps used to produce preforms accounting for 90-95 percent of the electricity used by a blow moulder, Sidel Eco oven-top reflector lamps, for example, have been developed to address energy consumption concerns.
Sidel has also developed a bottle design to help the bottled water market reduce weight, save energy during production and improve bottle performance across the supply chain without compromising on product quality— while delivering a better consumer experience.
The 0.5 litre bottle weighs 35 percent less than the average commercial alternative yet achieves 32 percent greater top-load performance than the lightest commercial bottle. Along with this improved performance, other benefits of this design include savings in raw material and a reduction in the air pressure needed during the blowing process—all for added sustainability.