Aseptic packaging market in India is full of potential, says Uflex exec
Innovative solutions can enhance sustainability and food safety, as well as prevent alcohol adulteration
30 Apr 2019 --- Government initiatives around food safety, pressures to reduce plastic packaging waste and high rates of adulteration in the alcohol market are some of the key factors driving expansion in the aseptic packaging market in emerging economies such as India. This is according to Ashwani Kumar Sharma, President & CEO, New Business Initiatives at India-based Uflex, who pegs the Asia-Pacific region – particularly India – as holding significant potential for growth in this arena.
Emerging markets undergo economic, social and environmental shifts continuously – and rapidly. This presents both a business opportunity to encourage growth with appropriate packaging designs, yet there is also an urgency to combine such packaging with environmental sustainability.
The aseptic beverage packaging market is witnessing significant global growth due to the ascending demand for extended shelf-life products, convenience, transportation and the recyclable nature of carton packs. The Indian aseptic liquid packaging market is growing at the rate of 17 to 18 percent per annum and this is expected to double in the next five years to approximately 20 billion packs per annum, Sharma says. Compared to China – which has already reached the 80 billion packs mark – India has a huge opportunity at hand. “With Uflex’s entry into the aseptic liquid packaging manufacturing with brand Asepto, this large opportunity will be harnessed,” he notes.
The primary focus of Asepto – the Liquid Packaging Brand from Uflex – is on giving longevity to products, especially perishable consumables. Food safety is also a key point as the process ensures that the food is safe from harmful bacteria and nutritional content is preserved due to the safe levels of heat used during the aseptic method. This also means that preservatives do not need to be added, Sharma notes.
As the aseptic market has matured and technology has become more advanced, the application possibilities have grown. Value-added products such as milkshakes, chilled coffees, almond milk, drinking yogurts and coconut water are all potential avenues for the packaging solution. However, Sharma underscores that Uflex’s focus is on dairy products, juices and alcoholic beverages.
Safeguarding against food safety
The role of government in ensuring food safety has been amplified, notes Sharma. “Government agencies are responsible for setting food safety standards, conducting inspections, ensuring that standards are met and maintaining a strong enforcement program to deal with those who do not comply with standards and protect public health by strengthening the food safety system,” he says.
Such government policies have become particularly stringent in emerging economies due to increased awareness about food safety and this has further spurred the growth of the aseptic packaging market.
Sharma explains that Aspeto utilizes automated tools and advanced technologies to offer bacteria-free and hygienic output. A vital component of the aseptic packaging process is that the packages are typically sterilized prior to filling with Ultra High Temperature (UHT) treated food, which results in a product with a long shelf-life that is free from bacteria.
Aside from food safety benefits, Sharma notes that Asepto’s aseptic carton packs also offer the benefit of contributing to a reduction in packaging – specifically plastic – waste. Its carton packs are made of 70 percent paperboard, LDPE and MPE, which are all recyclable in nature. They also include a thin aluminum film which works as a barrier to sunlight and oxygen. This is significant as consumers and customers alike are increasingly drawn to carton over plastic in the liquid food category, he notes.
“Although the majority of milk consumption in India is in the form of plastic pouches, there’s been increasing focus of packaging firms to provide value-added packaging as dairy players focus on extended shelf-life with UHT treatment of milk. Hence, aseptic packaging can be a game changer in addressing the issue of wastage, while also increasing the shelf-life of these perishable products,” Sharma says.
The year on year growth registered for aseptic liquid packaging in the clusters of South Asian (SA) and South East Asian (SEA) and Oceania markets is promising, he explains: SA – 17-18 percent, SEA – 12 percent, Oceania – 15 percent, respectively. In the SA and SEA region, the volume of aseptic cartons is more than PET packaging in the Liquid Food Category, with approximately 40 billion carton packs, compared to approximately 28 billion PET packs.
Expanding beyond dairy
On the other hand, the juice and alcoholic segments are equally attractive markets for aseptic packaging. Juices are a popular segment and blend well with the aseptic packaging properties of long shelf-life, protection from climate change due to its six protective layers with no need for added preservatives or refrigeration and, above all, its lightweight, Sharma notes.
However, a challenging factor in the juice category is differentiation on shelf. Asepto, however, offers holographic, multi-lens, foil stamping and embossing features for the aseptic market – and it is the first company in India to do so – which can aid differentiation in this space.
In the case of alcohol, aseptic packaging can play a pivotal role. Duplication and adulteration have been a major problem in the liquor segment, especially in India. With aseptic packaging, it’s impossible to duplicate, tamper or substitute a product. “The anti-counterfeiting properties of this packaging ensure the integrity of the products are intact,” says Sharma.
“Besides, its anti-counterfeit packaging nature, Asepto also offers additional benefits of aesthetic rejuvenation on the packs. The holographic, foil stamping, embossing and multi-lens effects can give a premium look to packaging, which, until now, were only possible on mono-cartons, glass and plastic labels for alcohol,” he adds.
Rapid urbanization has hit many emerging markets, with populations growing exponentially and lifestyles undergoing significant shifts. This means the space for innovation in the packaging market is ample, with aseptic clearly offering many benefits across the board.
By Laxmi Haigh
This feature is provided by FoodIngredientsFirst’s sister website, PackagingInsights.
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