PACKAGING: Flexible Packaging Grows Exports
Recent Western Cape Business News
WHILE the economic crisis in Europe and the US may seem like a long way away, it’s a very real challenge in the Western Cape where many fruit, vegetable and wine growers are having to manage the negative effects of weak demand for exports. According to the Western Cape Department of Economic Development and Tourism’s quarterly report by the Bureau for Economic Research (17 November 2011), the province produces approximately 60% of South Africa’s agricultural exports. Nearly 50% goes to Europe and the US, with countries in the European Union receiving the lion’s share of 41%.
From an export perspective, the report concludes that the Western Cape is very exposed to the heightened global economic uncertainty, particularly the developments in Europe, namely the sovereign debt crisis and severe austerity measures. This decline in demand led to a slump in Manufacturing Business Confidence during the reporting period.
But Robin Moore, the managing director of Nampak Flexible, Africa’s leading flexible packaging company, is optimistic and upbeat. “Increasingly, growers are identifying our flexible bags, pouches and sachets as a means of gaining competitive advantage in the tough export market. There’s no doubt that our A to Z range is like packaging nirvana for exporters, offering superior performance across the whole supply chain, specifically in terms of cost efficiencies, print quality, pack functionality and consumer convenience,” he says.
Perfect for fruit, vegetable and wine products, such as dried fruit, nuts and olives, as well as concentrates, juices, oils, purées and wines, Nampak Flexible’s bags, pouches and sachets are manufactured at a state-of-the-art facility in Ndabeni near Cape Town. Close to key agric hubs and Nampak R&D, the site houses the latest technology, including three Totani pouch-making machines. To ensure sufficient capacity moving forward, the company has invested in two more pouch-making machines and a spout inserter. They’re scheduled for launch shortly.
The composite line-up of bags, pouches and sachets covers every shape, size and technical specification. For example, high barrier liquid bags are available for bag-in-box and bag-no-box applications, and come in one litre to 210 litres. Experts in the field provide specialist advice and support every step of the way, and consultancy regarding filling equipment and line optimisations is accessible.
Presently, Nampak Flexible makes bag-in-box bags for the wine industry in the Western Cape. According to Moore, about 45% of the bags are filled and packed locally before being shipped to Europe. Through many years of experience, the company has developed processes and systems that enable volume hungry exporters to take advantage of unplanned peaks in demand at relatively short notice.
To better facilitate sales and manufacturing for export, Nampak Flexible has strategic alliances with leading international technology partners, like Aran Packaging (for aseptic bags) and Conro (for taps and fitments for bag-in-box bags).
The necessary industry accreditations are also in place, namely BRC, HACCP and ISO. Together, they pave the way for ease of doing business in Europe and the US.
Nampak Flexible’s bags, pouches and sachets are compact and lightweight, so they’re cheaper and greener to transport. Since they don’t break like glass or corrode like metal, they reduce the risk of damages and waste. Puncture resistance is excellent, according to Moore. When demand is flat or weak, shelf life can make a huge difference between success and failure. Thanks to the barrier properties of the substrates involved, research shows that bag-in-box wines stay fresh for longer than bottled wines. Similarly, self-standing pouches ensure excellent on-shelf presentation, while retailers appreciate the space saving design and built-in features for hassle-free merchandising, such as punched holes for hanging displays.
On the whole, bags, pouches and sachets are easy to open and serve. This is largely due to tear-notches for easy opening and weld spouts for pouring. Carry handles and resealable zippers are popular among consumers here and abroad.
“Although the exchange rate is playing ball to some degree at the moment, we aren’t out of the woods yet and exports are going to be under pressure for some time to come. A change in packaging may seem like a big move, but it has the potential to grab attention and grow market share in the short-term. Achieving traction in the downturn creates a dynamic and strong base that will pave the way for more opportunity as the economies of the developed world start to show signs of recovery in the years ahead,” Moore says.
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