Global packaging solutions major Tetra Pak is witnessing a rebound in demand as the pandemic has increased customers’ preference for packaged food.
Accordingly, the global player known best for its — paper carton — packaging solutions for the ‘Juices, Nectars, Still Drinks’ category sees an increased future role of ‘safe packaging technology’ across the industry.
In a conversation with IANS, Ashutosh Manohar, Managing Director, Tetra Pak South Asia said: “In terms of business, we are seeing a strong recovery. As you would be aware, the ‘JNSD’ category was hit the most during the lockdown, but sales are now back to almost 85 percent levels compared to the pre-COVID period.”
“Some categories like ORS (Oral Rehydration Solutions) and hydration in fact saw an increase during the lockdown and are continuing to show and upward trend.”
“I believe that there will be an overall rebound of the food business in general as ‘normalcy’ returns to our life. I have no doubt that the fundamentals of our economy are strong and a complete recovery is bound to happen.”
Besides, Manohar cited that pandemic has changed consumer behaviour like never before.
“The pandemic has created concerns about food safety and has brought to the forefront the need for access to safe and hygienic food, that can reach the remotest of consumers, despite challenges in the supply chain,” he said.
“I believe that the demand for and appreciation of packaged food, nutritious food, with immunity booster attribute will rise. On top of that, the consumers would also like to ensure that the food is ‘safe’ for consumption, packed safely and that they would expect the major food brands to fulfil this responsibility.”
Notably, he pointed out the immense future potential of ‘Ultra High Temperature’ UHT treated products, packed in paper based cartons and distributed at ambient temperature.
In terms of new customer categories, he pointed out that renewed focus on food safety and sustainability is expected to lead many more brands into the company’s fold.
Traditionally, associated with plain white milk and with juices, nectars and still drinks, carton packaging has now expanded into many more categories in the recent years, like coconut water, other liquid dairy products like buttermilk, lassi and drinking yogurt and even ORS.
“Another interesting category which is growing exponentially is the immunity boosting beverages. They are now a segment in themselves, which is driving growth even for new products like ‘Aloe juice, Amla juice, Turmeric milk, Ginger and Tulsi milk’,” he said.
“Our customers continued to launch new products even during the recent months, especially in the immunity-boosting segment.”
At present, the company works with over 160 customers including the likes of PepsiCo India and Amul.
On the sustainability front, the company has developed collection and recycling infrastructure in all markets including India.
“We have invested considerably in consumer programs to promote responsible waste management. This has created a robust collection and recycling ecosystem for over 16 years and with our efforts, today our network covers 22 states and Union Territories, including 29 cities and 14 Indian Army contingents,” he added.
“This network is supported by 30 collection partners and 4 different recyclers across the country. Supported by our partners, about 40 per cent cartons sold in India today are already being recycled, and we are working to keep increasing this number year after year.”