FOOD PACKAGING SUMMIT is born, the virtual meeting of food and packaging companies


CATEGORY: Fairs BRAND: Packaging Cluster

NAGRIFOOD, Clúster FOOD+i and Packaging Cluster joined forces to launch this global packaging event focused on the food industry, which took place on Friday, October 7 in a virtual format.

This meeting featured spokespersons for top-level entities within the plastic and packaging sector, such as Aitiip, Enplater, Hinojosa or Tetra Pak, and leading companies in the food and distribution sector, such as Unilever, Mahou-San Miguel, and Eroski.

Today, the transition to a more sustainable food system that encompasses all phases of the food value chain, from production to consumption, is absolutely necessary. Within this process, the search for new business strategies in relation to packaging will be a key pillar within this transition towards sustainability and will determine, to a large extent, the competitiveness and efficiency of the food sector. Aware of the great impact that the packaging sector has within the food sector, and in response to business concerns and concerns, FOOD PACKAGING SUMMIT arises.

This virtual event is constituted as an ambitious initiative, launched thanks to the collaboration between three leading organizations: Clúster FOOD+i, Packaging Cluster and NAGRIFOOD. FOOD PACKAGING SUMMIT will serve as a business meeting point and showcase for the different initiatives that are being developed, in addition to serving as the basis for the design of future itineraries and more sustainable strategies.

The event, which took place on October 7, from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 a.m., in a virtual format, had spokespersons for top-level entities within the plastic and packaging sector, such as Aitiip, Enplater, Hinojosa or Tetra Pak , and leading companies in the food and distribution sector, such as Unilever, Mahou-San  Miguel, and Eroski.

In this way, FOOD PACKAGING SUMMIT brought together the main actors involved in the food packaging sector with the ultimate goal of promoting joint discussion, business collaboration and sustainable innovation.


Responsible packaging: Packaging reset

Berta Gonzalvo, Research Director of the AITIIP Technology Center, stated that in the coming years there will be a "packaging reset", whereby the concept of sustainable packaging "will be replaced by responsible packaging". This is because the consumer is increasingly "more informed, and can understand and make decisions about what he/she decides to buy regarding the materials with which the packaging of these products are generated, and the final management of that life use". For this reason, Berta Gonzalvo estimates that the winning companies will be “those that in the next five or ten years promote the new era of conscious consumption”, because tomorrow's consumers will “actively seek sustainable and environmentally responsible brands”, said Gonzalvo.


Along the same lines, Carolina Peñalva, Head of Packaging at AITTIP, presented the new sustainable materials for packaging, adding that "many alternatives that are appearing lately will sometimes not be the most responsible choice in changing from sustainable to responsible packaging." She stated that companies and technology centers should "study which is the most responsible for each application, occasion and moment in time." He also insisted that sometimes companies mark "very high levels of recyclability", but that sometimes "recyclability is less important than the benefits provided by the packaging, since the main thing must always be food safety and life useful of the product ”.



The essential function of packaging: protect the packaged product

In the same way, Pere Coll, Director of R&D at Enplater, specified that the essential function of packaging is "to protect the packaged product: the container has to protect, give an image and be functional". He insisted that plastic should be reduced whenever possible, but "without reducing the characteristics that this material offers us in order to protect packaged food."


Sustainability is currently a consumer requirement

Xavi Giménez, Product Manager of Graficas Varias, stated that the priority in his sector is "to use sustainable materials such as paper, which is a natural product, made from biodegradable and recyclable raw materials." He stated that currently the trend in communication and labeling is "less is more": use only the necessary elements. On the other hand, he insisted that "until a few years ago, sustainability could be a competitive advantage, but nowadays it is a consumer demand".


You cannot make a more sustainable packaging if we reduce its useful life

Norman Masià, Business Development of Hinojosa, explained that the trend "leads us to reduce plastic, because the consumer does not like to find it in packaging". However, "even if there is a change in materials, food safety and waste reduction must always be maintained." He explained that, when these two points are already surpassed, it will be "when we must undertake the reduction of plastic, since a more sustainable container cannot be made if we reduce its useful life".



The food sector is the one that should lead sustainability

Marta Herrero, Tetra Pak's Food Category Marketing Expert, stated that when consumers are asked in which sector sustainability matters most, “60% place the food and beverage sector in first place”, therefore, it considers that "this sector must lead sustainability".

He insisted that, when designing sustainable packaging, "the advantages of sustainability must be present throughout the value chain: it must be light and compact, take up little space on the retail shelf, an easy-to-open container, easy to recycle, etc."


Collaboration across the entire value chain is essential

Along the same lines, Montserrat Lombardo, Regulatory Affairs Manager of Unilever, insisted that collaboration between the entire value chain is "essential to achieve sustainability objectives", and in this sense it is necessary that "the support of the administration to the Business".


What can the retail sector boost to promote sustainability?

Cristina Rodríguez, Head of Sustainability at Eroski, also considered collaboration between the entire value chain essential, adding that all actions towards a more sustainable packaging must be carried out "together with an individualized technical environmental analysis that analyzes the packaging of each product and think of different more sustainable alternatives”. She stated that in the retail sector there are other ways to promote sustainability, such as "enhancing bulk, facilitating reuse, reducing overpacking of products and using sustainable material."


There is no perfect material for all products

Cristina Pérez López, Responsible for Sustainability projects and Sergio Barral, Director of Science and Technology for Packaging Process, both from the Mahou San Miguel company, stated that "there is no perfect material that is ideal for all products", that is why they consider it essential to "continually innovate and review the materials used." They stressed the need to be "very careful" and to bear in mind that "everything that is done in terms of sustainability must go in the right direction." "Not to succumb to the pressure of reducing plastic should we take measures that go against some environmental parameter," said Sergio Barral.


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