By Prerna Mishra: Indian small and medium enterprises (SMEs) engaged in packaging industry should concentrate on their upgradation of knowledge in order to stay at par with growing demand for different types of packaging in the consumer goods sector and also to bring in new innovations in the industry, advises NC Saha, director of the Indian Institute of Packaging (IIP), in an exclusive interview with SME News.
Here are the excerpts from the interview...
What is the current status of India packaging industry ?
NC Saha: As per the available statistics the total size of the Indian Packaging Industry is about US$ 23 billion. This particular industry is growing at the rate of 15% per annum. However, there is a variation of the growth trend for various types of packaging material. For example, Flexible packaging industries is growing @ 20-25% annually whereas the paper and paperboard is growing @ 36%. Metal and glass industries are growing @ 8% and 6% respectively.
What are career opportunities available in Packaging industry for SMEs?
NC Saha: As per the available statistics there are about 22000 packaging industries including of Packaging conversion industries dealing with paper, paper board, plastic films and laminates, manufacturer of metal container, glass container, composite containers, corrugated fibre board boxes, packaging machinery suppliers, manufacturer of ancillary packaging material like priniting inks, lacquer and vernishes, pressure sensitive self adhesive tape, plastic straps, angle board, pallet, slip sheet etc. Out of which about 85% of the industries are covered under SME sector. The Indian Institute of Packaging is conducting two years full time Post Graduate Diploma Programme in packaging technology where the average intake of the students is about 150 per year. Till date all the students have been well accepted by the Indian packaging industry and 100% of the students have been placed. In general the salary package of the students is in the range of Rs. 3.0 lacs to Rs. 10.0 lacs. This clearly indicates that most of the students are absorbed in the SME sector. In the 21st century, it is observed that there has been certain mega socio economic changes like increase of middle class population, increase of working women, liberalization in trade policies, globalization, increase of literacy, increase of purchasing power parity and booming of retail market. All this factors have definitely created a great demand for the consumption of packaging material and thus the growth trend of this particular sector is also in the increasing order. At the same time, there is a great demand for the packaging professionals. Due to this fact, the packaging is being considered as one of the carrier option by the youngsters.
The government should amend food safety laws in order to meet the rapidly-changing needs of the packaging industry. What is your take on this?
NC Saha: Globally 56% of packaging materials are consumed for the food products and beverages, However, in India the consumption of packaging materials for the processed food and beverages is about 85% (including mineral water). Due to this fact, it is felt that the packaging aspect will be definitely covered in the food safety laws as food package comfortability has become one of the important aspects for the modern consumers.
Why do you think packaging is gaining demand? Are increasing organised retail and demand for branded products fuelling this or there is another dimension to this demand for flexible packaging solutions?
NC Saha: As I have already mentioned, the demand of packaging is increasing regularly. At the same time, the youngsters of India are demanding branded goods which have also got a great impact on the demand of packaging materials. The demand of flexible packaging materials is increasing led by certain advantages like easy availability, transparency, recyclability, cost effectiveness, printability and consumer acceptance.
IIP is researching on the packaging of mid-day meals meant for distribution to school children. Please throw some light on this innovative model.
NC Saha: The Indian Institute of Packaging has taken an initiative to make a study to review the existing system of distribution of mid day meal scheme being implemented by the Govt. of India for school children. The study will be covered across the country. Main objective of this study would be to explore the possibility for the development of suitable package in order to distribute the mid day meal in hygienic condition to the school children. This particular study is being undertaken by the Institute as a social responsibility and also to upgrade the standards of packaging at National level.
What are the key priorities of IIP?
NC Saha: To promote the export market by way of innovative package design and development and also to upgrade the standards of packaging at National level. In addition, IIPs Mission to promote the packaging education and also to upgrade the quality of packaging material through certification in order to fulfill the mission, i.e., better standard of life through better packaging.
'Packaging' is becoming a significant marketing tool. Kirana store owners and small traders are increasingly adopting novel packaging styles so that their products should not look inferior in comparison to the branded ones. Please share your views on this practice.
NC Saha: Due to the entry of the branded goods from the multinational companies, the small Kirana store owners need to upgrade the package design and the quality in order to tackle stiff competition in the retail market. This would be necessary in order to have their sustainability in the local market.
IIP was also looking at jute and bamboo as an alternative for wood in packaging. How will the step be beneficiary the sector?
NC Saha: Yes, IIP is exploring the possibility for the development of alternatively packaging material by using different natural fabrics like Jute, Coir etc and also to explore the possibility for their commercialization.
Please share your roadmap for the current fiscal (2012-13).
NC Saha: The Institute is taking the initiative for the commencement of 4 years Degree programme i.e, B.Tech packaging technology (after 10+2) and it is expected that this would make a revolution in the packaging education in terms of career opportunities and also for the upgradation of packaging technology. The institute is planning to commence this course from the academic year of 2014-15.
What is the outlook for the sector, especially SMEs, in the next 6 months?
NC Saha: SME Sector needs to concentrate for their upgradation of knowledge in the field of packaging. The Institute have been involved with various associations for conducting training programme, workshops through dissemination of knowledge for the overall upgradaion of SME sector.