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LMAI hosts third brand owner meeting

Brand owner panel discussion at the LMAI event in New Delhi

LMAI hosted a recent event for converters, suppliers and brand owners in New Delhi, based around the theme of brand owners’ perspective on the label. 

The event was curated by Harveer Sahni, chairman of Weldon Celloplast. LMAI president Kuldip Goel welcomed industry attendees and seven prominent brands who discussed the future of labels and their expectations from Indian label converters. Anti-counterfeiting and sustainability set the tone of the evening.

In his presentation, Pavankumar Chougule, associate director of packaging development at Dr Reddy’s Laboratories, said that the pharmaceutical industry expected converters to comply with government regulations and patient safety by focusing on smart packaging, supply chain and data security. ‘India is supplying medicines to all major pharmaceutical markets around the world, so printers need to understand the requirements of both the domestic and overseas markets,’ he said. 

Naveen Stuart, packaging development manager at Reckitt Benckiser, discussed consumer trends and brand expectations. ‘There is a generational, cultural and demographic shift happening and it is moving very fast. The new generation is moving towards a digital world and taking a balanced approach. The best thing for developing a product is customization. Therefore, we need technology that can customize labels in a short turnaround time. Secondly, we need to look beyond just the look of labels and engage customers with a brand story which is essential for consumer connection.’ 

The third important aspect is anticounterfeiting. ‘Product authentication is critical to growth. Therefore, we want consumers to see the product and know whether it is genuine or not. Sustainability and e-commerce remain important to business growth as well, but the cost has to be optimized,’ said Stuart. 

Tamal Ghosh, strategic packaging development leader, corporate packaging development, Dabur India, discussed trends in the FMCG sector. ‘In-mold labeling is becoming a popular technology for the advantages it offers, such as expanded graphics while maintaining high quality printing and no wastage of liner.’ The challenge, however, is that the company would like to use a PET in-mold label on a PET bottle similar to a HDPE label on HDPE bottle for easy recycling. ‘We prefer to use the same material and thinner substrates without compromising on print and performance quality in the FMCG industry. We are also looking at making a linerless label from a sustainability point of view,’ he says. 

Somnath Chatterjee, general manager procurement, Pernord Ricard, said: ‘We have an ageing population, rising prosperity, urbanization, globalization and obesity. Therefore, we have to create a differentiation in packaging by creating innovation, value for money for the consumer and an efficient supply chain. This has to be done with continuous business alignment and value addition. Packaging is going through a lot of tweaks. Consumers want products that are value-preserving, with age-appropriate and operational packaging to suit new lifestyles. We have challenges in the liquor industry such as improvement of productivity, with higher speed on faster lines and less waste, and we need lower changeover time. Therefore, we need printers to work in this direction. Legal compliance, sustainability and counterfeiting are serious issues for liquor.’ Pernord Ricard uses polycarbonate caps which are uniquely coded so if a compliance issue occurs, the company can immediately track it. 

Santanu Chowdhary, senior general manager, global packaging development, Sun Pharmaceutical, discussed a new anti-counterfeiting technology, steganography, where alphanumeric code are embedded in a label without any change to the image. All data is stored in the cloud. ‘Digitization helps connect brands and customers, which delights a brand owner,’ he said. ‘Through this technology, that is possible.’

Presentations were followed by a panel discussion that discussed this new development. ‘It is an interactive technology that can be accessed via a mobile application. Customers can interact with brands and authenticate any product. 

Counterfeiters will have no access to this technology because of unique codes embedded in the image,’ said Chowdhary. ‘We were not sure if this technology would be scannable using a mobile phone on blister packs. But it works, so it could be a good anticounterfeiting tool for the pharmaceutical industry. Moreover, these embedded codes can be printed on almost any press by any printer and it does not have any recurring investment unlike other popular technologies being used currently. It just needs a minor change in your artwork.’ 

Vivek Kapoor, CEO of Creative Labels, said: ‘Since this technology involves installing a mobile application, companies must assign a budget for marketing them to ensure success and drive sales. Pharmacies should be given an incentive to authenticate medicines using these applications, so as to ensure patients get the right medication.’ 

Ranesh Bajaj, managing director at Vinsak, opined: ‘The industry has to come together and make a generic mobile application for this technology for all brands. Installation of a mobile application by the end consumer needs a strong drive which remains a challenge. They need to be incentivized to install an application and then use it. Lastly, the label industry must work towards creating non-clonable QR codes.’

Further elaborating on other anti-counterfeiting means, Chougle added: ‘Countries such as the US, China and Russia sell serial numbers to pharmaceutical companies. When receiving their consignment, they scan those numbers to authenticate the product, thus ensuring only genuine medicines enter these markets.’ 

Turning to RFID in organized retail, Barun Banerjee, head of packaging for Nestlé South Asia, said: ‘RFID scanning is the future in FMCG but we need to have an infrastructure in place to implement it.’

Pressure on margins 
Responding to converters’ concerns of immense pressure on margins, Banerjee explained that pressure-sensitive labeling must move in a more sustainable direction to remain profitable. ‘Being environmentally friendly will present business opportunities in the future. Any brand will look at performance, lean management, minimum wastage, adhesive and paper selection and perhaps linerless labels. Printers need to make a sustainable choice in not only energy and water consumption, but also in the press they use. 

‘The need of the hour is to use same material in all layers of making a pack. Currently, a Nestlé noodle brand uses three to four different materials in one package, but we are looking at making the pack with one material across all layers. Similarly, in the yogurt sector, paper labeling is becoming popular because brands are moving to paper cups. We must be supported by label printers on our sustainability drive.’ This is in line with the Indian government’s regulations for making a circular economy, encouraging the use of the same material in packaging for easy recycling. 

Banerjee further added that Nestlé takes into consideration the adhesive and ink used in its packaging, ensuring they adhere to compliance guidelines. ‘We have to import inks and other raw materials in order to comply with regulations. This is not economically viable, so it is important to have a high quality and consistent raw material supply locally.’

The panel further discussed the adoption of flexo, hybrid and digital as preferred printing technologies, and the limitation of digital in achieving a specific Pantone shade. Banerjee said: ‘In line with our sustainability drive, we are working towards minimizing graphics and colors on our packages. Therefore, future printing needs in the food industry could be CMYK plus one more color, which may not necessarily be a Pantone shade.’

The event concluded with Manish Desai, LMAI conference chairman, inviting the industry to the upcoming bi-annual conference in Kochi.


Aakriti Agarwal is India and Southeast Asia editor for Labels & Labeling.

Aakriti has been India editor for a number of years, and editor of the online newsletter, Label News India.

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