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Dairy packaging market and technology innovations in packaging
Saturday, 27 February, 2021, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Laltu Sinha
Robust and efficient packaging is a must for avoiding contamination and improving the shelf life of dairy products. Currently, key market players are investing aggressively on research and development for developing new technologies in packaging materials to prevent dairy products from contamination.

The packaging is the process of enclosing goods/products for sale or shipment. It is an effective medium for delivering products to consumers. Nowadays, cups, tetra packs, cans, bottles, sachets, etc., are widely used as packaging materials for dairy products. Dairy packaging is an essential aspect of the dairy food processing sector. Robust packaging protects dairy products from tampering or contamination from physical, chemical, and biological sources. Nowadays, consumers require dairy products that are fresh, mildly preserved, convenient to store, and ready to serve.

Packaging plays an important role in the sale of dairy products owing to the latter’s short shelf life. There are various functions of dairy packaging. It stores and secures dairy products,provides a solid surface for data labels, adds a distinct brand identity, and displays the dairy-product attractively so that it can grab the attention of the consumers.

Efficient packaging avoids contamination and is useful for storage and transport. Moreover, dairy packaging provides protection, information, security, and several other benefits. The primary aim of dairy packaging is to provide customers with dairy products in a perfect condition. At the same time, it also offers useful product-related information, such as product quality, manufacturing process, nutritional information, manufacturing/expiry date, and much more.

The dairy packaging market is coming up with innovative packaging to cater to the  requirement and convenience of 21stcentury consumers.The market is expected to grow at a healthy growth rate Year over Year (YoY). This growth can be attributed to the growing consumption of milk and milk-based products, such as ice cream, cheese, curd, milkshake, and others, along with the surging demand for processed dairy products. Additionally, rising health issues, among children and senior citizens, are further driving the growth of the dairy packaging market.

Materials Used for Dairy Packaging
The material used for the dairy packaging can be categorised into glass, plastic, paper, paper board, and metals. Plastic is the most widely used material for dairy packaging. Plastic packaging protects dairy products against pressure, moisture, and light. Currently, over 30 different kinds of plastics are used for dairy packaging. However, the use of plastic in dairy packaging is declining owing to the rising awareness about plastic pollution, which is one of the major causes of environmental degradation. Thus,the market is increasingly embracing paper and paperboard material for dairy packaging.

For example, tetra packs are made primarily from paperboard and some polyethylene and aluminum foil layers. The paperboard material in these packs providesa smooth and stable printing surface. The aluminum content helps protect products against light and oxygen, thus, maintaining the nutritional value and flavor of the dairy product.

Moreover, paperboard molding technology along with innovative packaging materials provides dairy product manufacturers with new-fangled packaging options. Airtight packaging materials for packaging milk-based ice creams and frozen desserts are commonly used by manufacturers as they can be stored in freezers for several months without affecting their taste or texture.

High Consumption of Milk and Milk-Based Products
According to American Dairy Product Institute,Asian countries represent a significant niche market for the dairy industry and on average, consume 52.1 kilograms per person per year and the consumption trend is showing an upward trend.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, India is the world’s largest milk-producing country, followed by the U.S., China, Pakistan, and Brazil. India reported 187.7 million tons of milk production in FY2018-2019, which increased by around 2 per cent over the previous year. According to NitiAayog, India will witness substantial growth during the next two years, reaching 300 million tons production by 2022. To meet the growing demand for milk and milk products, milk producers need more and more packaging material, which is further driving the growth of the dairy packaging market.

Key Market Players
Some of the key competitors in the market are Bemis Company Inc, Huhtamaki, Tetra Pak International S.A., Berry Global Group, Inc., Nampak Ltd, Ball Corporation, Sealed Air Corporation, WestRock Company, Mondi Group, Amcor Limited, and other prominent players.Key market players are entering into collaborations and engaging in mergers and acquisitions to capture better market share. Furthermore, the market participants are improving their product quality by investing in research and development to attain a competitive edge over their competitors.

Technological Advancements in Packaging
Technological advancements are making inroads into the dairy packing market.
The recent advancement in the packaging industry include:
•    Edible Packaging
•    Smart Packaging
•    Anti-microbial Packaging
•    Water Soluble Packaging
•    Self-Cooling and Self Heating Packaging
•    Flavour and Odor and Micro Packaging

For instance, edible packaging is a fascinating and creative option that decreases dependency on fossil fuels and has the potential to reduce carbon footprint dramatically, which is exactly what customers are currently looking for. Using different raw materials like the skin of fruits and vegetables and algae shows a potential growth in the market. Additionally, strict regulations are being implemented by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the European Commission to reduce carbon emissions, owing to which producers of dairy products are now moving to environmentally-friendly packaging materials. Therefore, eco-friendly plastic packaging is an acceptable option for producers who do not want to risk the shelf-life of the product without refrigeration. The eco-friendly packaging is of three types: recycled plastic, bio-plastic, and biodegradable plastic.

Recent Developments
On February 22, 2021, Tetra Pak announced the introduction of certified recycled polymers in the food and beverage industry for packaging. Carton packages integrating attributed recycled polymers are now available for food and beverage manufacturers. This move marks a key step in Tetra Pak’s approach to circularity which includes: minimizing dependency on fossil-based resources; responsibly sourcing raw materials; designing packages for enhanced recycling and reduced litter and building partnerships to develop effective collection and recycling infrastructure worldwide.

On January 11, 2021,Amcor announced the single-served plastic bottles and flexible packaging material likely to reshape the dairy industryby offering more sustainable solutions and innovative design and delivery, extending shelf life for customers. Single-serve packaging for value-added dairy, dairy alternatives, and meal replacements has grown over the last five years and continues to unleash major opportunities for PET containers.

On December 11, 2020,Tetra Pak and Stora Enso joined hands to explore the possibility of building a new recycling line to increase the recycling of used beverage cartons in Central and Eastern Europe.The two partners are initiating an extensive study to assess the viability of building a large-scale recycling line for Used Beverage Cartons (UBC) at Stora Enso’s Ostroleka Mill in Poland.

On May 29, 2020, Berry Global Group, Inc announced a collaboration with the longtime customer, Mondelez International to supply packaging containing recycled plastic for Philadelphia, the world’s most popular cream cheese. The package contains plastic material recovered using advanced recycling technology from Berry’s partnership with SABIC.

On August 11, 2020, Sealed Air Corporation has announced it had signed a collaboration agreement with Plastic Energy, an industry-leading company in advanced recycling technology. Additionally, Sealed Air has made an equity investment in Plastic Energy Global, the parent company of Plastic Energy.

On February 27, 2020, WestRock announced that it has joined the Confederation of European Paper Industries 4evergreen alliance. The alliance is designed to promote the role fiber and fiber-based packaging plays in building a circular economy from the carbon in forests and promoting responsible land management to creating products that are either renewable, reusable, or biodegradable.

(The author is research director, BlueWeave Consulting. He can be contacted at laltusinha@blueweaveconsulting.com)
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