Leading food processing and packaging solutions company Tetra Pak has introduced Smart Packaging in India. Indian brand owners now have access to a complete smart packaging ecosystem built around Dynamic QR codes which allows each package to be tracked, monitored and interacted with throughout the supply chain, creating new opportunities for efficient stock management, distribution and automation. It also creates new opportunities for consumer interaction.
Saumya Tyagi, Marketing Director, Tetra Pak South Asia, explains, “Dynamic QR code is what lies at the heart of ‘Smart Packaging’. It embeds every pack with a unique identity, allowing interaction between manufacturers, brand owners and consumers throughout the lifecycle of the pack.” He adds, “This is unlike a static QR code, which allows only for the same code to be printed on all packs and leaving very little room for flexibility of use. A Dynamic QR Code, on the other hand, can take the user to different destination websites each time it is scanned. So, the same pack can direct the user to a list of ingredients one week, a promotional campaign the following week, and to addresses of a recycling centre the week after.”
With the launch of Smart Packaging in India, brand owners now have access to a complete ecosystem built around Dynamic QR codes. Tetra Pak’s digital package offer includes three components: code generation and printing on packages, a secure cloud solution for managing the data collected, and a consumer-facing front-end in the form of an app or a microsite on the internet, or both.
Explaining how brands can use this technology, he says, “The brands will be able to deploy this revolutionary technology in many ways. For example, they can use it to engage with consumers in a unique and personalised way, or to understand consumption patterns and unearth deeper consumer insights. They can use it to can make traceability more transparent and share information with consumers about ingredients right down to the farm that a product comes from. They can even use it through the post-consumer recycling value chain by providing links to the location of the nearest recycling centre.”
With the number of smartphone users increasing, Tyagi says a technology like Smart Packaging can be used for consumer promotion, supply chain traceability, food ingredients traceability, packaging material traceability, consumer behaviour analytics and many other purposes.
Another feature is PICCO – a Tetra Pak solution that enables the printing of unique QR codes on every package, enabling enhanced consumer interaction and full traceability. PICCO offers customers both the printing and the data structure around each code. This is unlike the traditional solution where the same code is printed on a range of packages or packaging material. India is one of three Tetra Pak markets to invest in specialised PICCO printing technology for printing the Dynamic QR codes, which will be done at Tetra Pak India’s manufacturing facility at Chakan, near Pune. Tetra Pak is building the ecosystem in-house, from developing the QR codes, to designing the related apps as well as helping brands gain deeper consumer insights through analytics.
The company is ready to pilot this technology with two leading F&B brands in the country. The brands will be able to deploy this technology to not just engage with consumers in a unique and personalised way, but also to understand consumption patterns and unearth deeper consumer insights. For consumers, this technology allows potential use of augmented reality, real time promotions, downloadable content and more, making it a more exciting experience.
The Evolution of Packaging In India
Tetra Pak entered India 30 years ago when packaging was basic and nascent and a solution to a problem, ie. preventing food wastage and allowing transport. Today, Tyagi says that packaging is a communication channel that is evolving faster than ever before. He says, “ At Tetra Pak, we have gone from one packaging format when we started our journey, to more than 25 variants today offering different packaging volumes, shape, sizes, functionality (‘drink from’ and ‘pour from’ experience) and even visual effects. In terms of the categories as well we have gone from operating in just white Milk and juices & nectars to opening up several new categories like coconut water, ORS, Dairy alternatives, value-added dairy, spirits and more.”
He adds, “The biggest challenge really was to raise awareness about the power of the aseptic packaging and processing technology from a food safety and accessibility point of view. Today, we are at an inflection point, with increasing awareness about food safety, sustainability and a growing need for convenience and on-the-go consumption. This and many more such factors have contributed to Tetra Pak cartons becoming ubiquitous today. That said, if we look at the size of the F&B industry, we have only just touched the tip of the iceberg.”
Tyagi says that innovation ingrained in the company’s DNA has helped the company partner with the leading brands in the F&B industry and support them through Tetra Pak’s integrated solutions across packaging, processing and services. Globally Tetra Pak churns out about 10 innovations a year, and this is not just limited to packaging material. In the last two to three years, the company has introduced eight to nine new variations in India, including shapes, sizes, caps & closure that has helped achieve higher speeds in packaging equipment and more.
Tyagi says, “On one hand, we help our customers deliver varied products from juices & nectars, dairy products like milkshakes, paneer, cheese, khoya, niche products like coconut water, ORS, breakfast drinks, spirits and more to meet consumer needs. On the other hand, we help them stand out on the shelves and deliver liquid foods in a safe, convenient and attractive packaging through different packaging formats. In addition, through our services business, we help them improve performance, optimise costs and ensure food safety throughout the lifecycle of their operation.”
He continues, “It’s really the overall value that we deliver to our customers through or integrated solutions approach. With the launch of Smart Packaging, for example, customers can now customize promotional campaigns for consumers while the campaign is live, making it more effective. Similarly, through technological interventions like Predictive Maintenance, customers can avoid unplanned downtime, thereby helping reduce costs.”
In terms of growth, Tetra Pak, in packaging terms, has been adding 1 bn packs to its sales every year over the last two to three years, with the processing business showing “record sales” and the services business showing strong double-digit growth. Currently in India, Tetra Pak has over 150 customers in India and has been adding more than 15 packaging customers every year for the past three years.
Looking ahead, Tyagi says, “We will continue to strengthen our business, riding on the growth of India’s food market which is expected to touch USD 540 billion by 2020 and has been growing at 12% annually for the past 5 years. F&B brands are looking to capitalise on this growth and increasingly looking for partners that can offer integrated packaging solutions. We are fully geared up for this opportunity.”