Agribusiness, Food & Trade

Getting the packaging right

Ralph Moyle, Australian Institute of Packaging

A strong interest in sustainable packaging and trends resulted in the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) delivering a packaging forum to the WA food and beverage industry in October 2019. DPIRD’s Food Industry Innovation partnered with the Australian Institute of Food Science and Technology and the Australian Institute of Packaging to deliver the full day program which attracted nearly 100 attendees.

Participants included primary producers, small and large scale food and beverage manufacturers, food service companies, industry service providers, school teachers, tertiary institutions and government departments who indicated the content of presentations, Q & A sessions and networking opportunities was invaluable to their business’ packaging decisions.

L-R) John Day, Shopability and Ralph Moyle, Australian Institute of Packaging

The day commenced with a presentation by John Day from Shopability on tailoring packaging size and solutions according to channel noting that packaging needs to be core to your business strategy. He suggested that businesses ask themselves if there is enough value in waste reduction to propose an alternative packaging solution. One attendee noted that their percentage of waste for their fresh product was reduced from 60% to 4% by the use of simple plastic bags.

Australian Institute of Packaging trainer Ralph Moyle explored challenges around packaging design and its role in sustainability, recycling, reducing food waste, food safety and shelf life extension.

“Packaging design and reducing the number of materials in your packaging should be the first consideration. Recycling should be your last choice” he said.

When considering sustainable options, he suggests talking to your (packaging) supplier and finding out the facts. And to consider how you can re-use your own incoming ingredient packaging, through repurposing.

“Tell your consumers these stories” Mr Moyle said.

L-R) Sue Daubney, Bannister Downs Dairy and Jim Trandos, Trandos Farms

Afternoon sessions featured Sue Daubney from Bannister Downs Dairy and Jim Trandos from Trandos Farms talking about their journey to implement innovative sustainable packaging, followed by a question and answer session providing an opportunity for attendees to hear first-hand some of the challenges they faced.

Sue started the business in 2004, with their packaging system being one of their key  decisions from the beginning. Bannister Downs were the first to use Ecolean packaging for fresh milk and have continued to work closely with the manufacturer to improve the process ever since. Read more about her packaging on the Bannister Downs website.

Jim has spent the last five years working with his supplier to create a Trandos Farms packaged tray-less cut corn product for the supermarkets. In May this year they  successfully launched the product resulting in savings on packaging consumables but the trade off was a small reduction of shelf life as there is now less air in the final product.

Dr Min Teah, Curtin University

Dr Min Teah from Curtin University, School of Marketing wrapped up many of the day’s learnings giving a lively and engaging talk on consumer trends and insights related to packaging and its branding.

“Packaging is part of the consumer experience and journey, from purchase all the way to disposal” she said.

“Packaging is part of your product, it creates magic through sensory experience and contributes to logic or rational reasoning for the consumer”.

Dr Teah identified trends including convenience, simplicity (in the design and how it works, not necessarily look and feel), sustainability (as important for export markets as for domestic), technology-enabled solutions and the importance of creating a unique experience.

She encouraged manufacturers to talk to their consumers, use research, trial and error, biometrics and other analytical testing of their packaging to ensure they are unique and stand out in the marketplace.

Packaging suppliers Romel Australia and SelectEquip showcased some of the latest in packaging solutions and a networking event supported by Buy West Eat Best concluded the day with more than 60 attendees staying to connect and share insights from the day.

If you missed the forum, the presenter’s slides are available on DPIRD Food Industry Innovation’s past events and seminar resources page.