Every industry, including packaging, has witnessed the impact of COVID-19. From event cancellations to short supplies due to extreme lockdown observations, we’ve seen it all. But to what extent has it affected the packaging industry? Mr Pankaj Poddar, CEO Cosmo Films, in an interview with Brands & Leaders said: “Packaging industry shall be in a better position to navigate in this crisis though it is also facing several challenges of costs going up, demand coming from only a few sectors is putting pressure on the prices, labour issues and other operational challenges”.
Like a coin, every situation has two sides, and so does this. With people concerned about their health more than ever, the industry has seen a rapid increase in demand for packaged items. Earlier, while the additional packaging for food products like fresh vegetables & fruits was considered a waste now has become preferable. You may find many more such instances. Let’s have a look at how COVID-19 has affected the resilient packaging industry.
The packaging industry has wide applications and functions in a relatively mature market. It has benefitted from the association with pharmaceutical and food products which are essentials. These products have been subject to rising demand due to COVID-19. There has been a noted higher demand for packaging materials, especially for shelf-ready food packaging to fill up the grocery store shelves.
Also, with clouds of uncertainty hovering around, investors have turned to essential industries, which include the packaging industry.
High Demand by Physical & e-Commerce stores
Packaging that was considered to be an additional cost (like for fresh fruits & vegetables) has now become supreme. Plastic is widely used in the medical industry as it is safe & affordable. It prevents the spread of diseases & eliminates the chances of unwanted reactions causing spoilage. These features helped grocery stores tackle strict lockdown by ensuring a good shelf life of products.
Another industry generating high packaging demand is e-Commerce retail. Strict measures like lockdown and social distancing have forced both sellers and buyers to go online. It increased their dependency on the e-Commerce industry. Here, the packaging requirement is much higher than the physical stores to ensure safety during transportation. Owing to these factors, both physical and online stores have seen a drastic increase in demand for packaging materials.
While there has been a great hue & cry against plastics, we’ve now realized that plastic usage cannot be put to an end. Instead, its requirement keeps growing.
Talking about sustainability, plastic films & packaging have a lesser carbon footprint as compared to any other substitute. Substrates like BOPP can be recycled multiple times and at low temperature. Its features like material rationalization, low power requirement in manufacturing and high durability keep a check on the consumption pattern of both producers & users.
Prosperity for Small Packaging Businesses
Many small businesses in the packaging industry often find themselves on the verge of shutting down. However, COVID-influenced high demand has changed the scenario. Small businesses are now back in the market and can look forward to a sustainable future. This is because consumers now prefer to buy packed products for health concerns. This shift in buying habits is predicted to stay even after the virus is gone.
Overcoming Production Challenges
It was suspected that the packaging industry might not be able to avoid the pitfall despite the rising demand. Lockdown and social distancing norms posed challenges in the production process. However, smart businesses proved otherwise by giving a tough answer to the situation and restarting operations with precautions. Severe social distancing and other measures were observed in the workplace. While the effects could not be eliminated, most players were running at a capacity of 50-60% to ensure a smooth supply chain.
Tough times don’t define you, they redefine you! At Cosmo Films, the largest supplier of speciality films worldwide, we continued to serve our clients while ensuring safety for employees during the pandemic. Innovation has always been at the core and didn’t see any compromise due to COVID-19. “As part of our R&D roadmap, we are working on several new technologies including intelligent packaging solutions, biodegradable materials and Direct Thermal Printable Films”, says Mr Pankaj Poddar (CEO, Cosmo Films). We’ve recently introduced the all-new Anti-Fog BOPP films, and have also been actively participating in various CSR activities through our philanthropic arm, Cosmo Foundation, to bring about a change in the society.
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