Worth the paper it's written on5 August 2019
Paper has an excellent reputation as a packaging material. Consumers love it, as it taps into their 'doing the right thing' consciousness and brands are fans of consumers’ usage. With paper having a fair wind behind it, it's no wonder that there are all manner of clever new ways to use paper for packaging. Emma-Jane Batey reports on a selection of cutting-edge solutions.
Bellygoodness is a new brand that reads as a checklist of all the latest trends. Its range of delicious, vegan, dairy-free and nightshade-free sauces comes packed in fully recyclable pouches that are beautifully tagged with a paper sleeve. But Bellygoodness isn't just ticking boxes for their own sake – the huge rise in vegan product demand means that it's a commercial success, as well as being delicious.
Gail Robertson, founder and co-owner of Primal and Paleo brand Bellygoodness, knew that she wanted the packaging to reflect the responsible nature of the products she'd so carefully developed, so employing the use of paper was obvious.
But what wasn't so obvious was how the paper could ensure that the product stood out on crowded shelves and helped to promote the message that she so strongly believed. “Our packaging is what presents our identity to customers. It's what catches their eye and it's what they associate with Bellygoodness,” Robertson tells Converting Today. “We wanted to remind people that eating on a restricted diet doesn't have to be boring. Our packaging helps to portray vibrancy, healthy and has a friendly, fun factor too.”
Practical makes perfect
The practicalities of the Bellygoodness packaging came from its shelf-stable product and desire to ensure the packaging is as responsible as the product within. Robertson continues, “Our packaging was designed and developed in-house and we use a local printer for the card wraps. There have been some challenges along the way – from filling our pouches to storage, shelf placement and, of course, budget, every element had to be carefully considered.”
The choice of the recycled card wrap for the pouch was both practical and design-lead, with the ingredients such an important part of the Bellygoodness brand.
“We needed plenty of space to share the ingredients as our customers are usually buying Bellygoodness because of an intolerance or preference for specific ingredients,” says Robertson. “The outer card wrap gives us more space to present our information to our customers; included on the wrap is key decision-making information, so this additional space is very important to us. The card wrap also helps to communicate our brand values; it's a fully recycled and recyclable card with a naturally textured finish, which really reflects our brand values.”
Paper is also a great way to boost customer engagement without promoting irresponsible use of materials as it is widely known and accepted as a sustainable packaging option. For artisan gin and spirits brand Espensen Spirit, the choice of glass bottles with paper marketing accents has helped to build the business quickly in a crowded market. Brand manager Charlotte Cripps tells Converting Today, “We wanted to adopt a different look and feel to traditional fruity or infused spirits labels. It's very important that the packaging is something our customers want to keep; our bottles have been chosen so that people don't want to throw them away and our marketing materials are cleverly designed to provide multiple functions that amuse and appeal to our customers.”
An added value judgment
Espensen Spirit founder Sam Espensen is passionate about the quirky use of packaging to differentiate the brand. She tells Converting Today, “Customers get a little postcard with their purchase which has serving suggestions and reflects the fabulous style of our bottles and branding. When we sell our spirits at markets and festivals people try to buy the postcards and are delighted when we tell them they're free. I use paper wherever possible across the brand, both for the packaging itself and for postage, using recycled materials wherever I can; everything we use is either recycled, recyclable or reusable.”
Espensen notes that the appeal of its paper secondly packaging also adds to its giftability – a popular aspect of artisan alcohol brand. She says, “Our paperboard gift boxes are also really beautiful – I know I'm biased but they really are! As with all the Espensen Spirit packaging, I wanted them to be something that people are happy to hold on to – and they do. I've seen them used as pencil cases, for makeup storage. We get our card printed at Belmont Labels; the sourcing of a good, reliable and honest printer has been the hardest part of the whole manufacturing process.”
Paper packaging is not just the preserve of small start-up brands that are focused on pushing their ecocredentials. For global names, choosing paper helps to highlight their future-focused approach to packaging while helping to meet ever-increasing CSR targets. Multinational packaging producer Stora Enso has been manufacturing renewable paperboard for cups, popularly used for takeaway coffee, for decades, and has been putting much of its R&D resources into developing functional cups and containers for liquids that also deliver on responsibility.
The latest launch from Stora Enso is its Cupforma Natura Solo, which is a renewable paperboard specifically for paper cups, for both hot and cold liquids as well as for ice cream packaging. The wood fibre used by Stora Enso is sourced from sustainably managed forests, and forest certification systems are used to ensure traceability and sustainable forestry. Created without the traditional plastic coating layer, it can be easily recycled in standard paper collections, following consumer demand for more sustainable choices without needing to forgo their daily coffee fix.
A demand for responsibility
Hannu Kasurinen, head of liquid packaging and carton board for Stora Enso's consumer board division, says, “We see strong demand for eco-friendly solutions in today’s food service packaging. Consumers demand convenience, but in a sustainable way. Recycling will reduce the carbon footprint of a paper cup by half, and the entire value chain benefits from innovations in renewable materials. Cupforma Natura Solo is yet another step on our journey to help customers reduce the use of plastics, and to drive the change towards more efficient recycling of food service packaging.”
Ebba Mannheimer, Stora Enso's head of business in the consumer board division, adds, “We have been trialling Cupforma Natura Solo with our customers in Europe and have proved that it works similarly to traditional polyethylene-lined cups, so no new converting technology is needed. In addition, this innovative material can increase the value of used cups in recycling, as the barrier breaks down in a recycling process, and all fibres can be used. We are proud to start introducing Cupforma Natura Solo to our customers to further drive renewable and circular solutions and enhance the value of food service packaging.”
As paper has the positive reputation for being responsible and beautiful, it manages to bridge the gap where convenience meets sustainability. Consumers are not willing to sacrifice their habits for the sake of environmental friendliness just yet, certainly not in large enough numbers anyway, so by opting for sustainably-sourced paper and paperboard packaging, brands are able to keep everyone happy.
Global outlook update
Moody’s is changing our global industry outlook to stable from positive.
We expect the consolidated operating income of the 44 paper and forest product companies that we rate globally will grow 2–4% over the next 12–18 months (from October 2018), down from the 4%-6% growth we expected in June. Drivers of the lower earnings growth include lower prices and weaker demand, as well as higher input costs across most subsectors in most regions. Moody’s global macroeconomic outlook for 2019 projects GDP growth of 2.9% for the combined G20 countries, down from an estimated 3.3% for 2018.
What could change the global industry outlook
We would change the outlook to positive if we believed that consolidated operating income would increase more than 4% over the next 12–18 months. This would most likely result from higher prices across several grades and regions due to a tight demand-supply balance, or higher than expected GDP growth or housing starts. We would change the outlook to negative if we expected consolidated global operating income to decline over the next 12–18 months. This would be driven by increased input costs that cannot be passed on to customers or reduced pricing as a result of operating capacity in excess of demand for several grades and regions.
North American industry outlook changing to stable from positive. Operating earnings for the 24 North American paper and forest product companies that we rate will grow 1–3% over the next 12-18 months. These producers represent about 55% of the global rated industry's operating income. Modest operating earnings growth from rated paper packaging, market pulp and timberland companies will offset declining operating earnings from tissue, commodity paper and wood product producers.
European industry outlook changing to stable from positive. The consolidated operating income of the 16 rated European producers, which represent about 25% of the global rated industry’s operating income, will grow 2–4% over the next 12–18 months. Modest operating earnings growth from paper packaging, market pulp and specialty paper producers will offset declining operating earnings from commodity paper companies.
Latin American industry outlook remains positive. We project operating earnings for the four rated Latin American producers will grow 6–8% over the next 12–18 months. These companies represent about 20% of the global rated industry’s operating income. The main growth driver will be increased production volumes from the ramp-up of recent capacity additions and productivity improvements.
Outlook for paper packaging subsector in North America and Europe changing to stable from positive. Although we are not projecting any additional price increases, North American paper packaging producers like International Paper, WestRock , Packaging Corporation of America and Graphic Packaging will continue to benefit from the flow through of announced price increases and slightly stronger ecommerce packaging demand. In Europe, Smurfit Kappa Group, Metsa Board Corporation and Mondi plc will also benefit from productivity improvements and the ramp-up of new capacity. In addition, the earnings of Smurfit Kappa and Mondi will benefit from the integration of recent acquisitions. Paper packaging producers in both regions will face slightly higher freight, labour, energy and recycled fibre costs. Recycled fibre costs will rise slightly from current lower than normal levels, but will likely remain below long term average prices. The restrictions on recycled fibre imports into China has increased North American and European supply, but low recycled fibre prices and greater ecommerce sales will hinder collection efforts.
Outlook for North American and European printing and writing paper subsector changing to negative from stable. Paper producers, such as Domtar Corporation and Resolute Forest Products, will continue to face demand declines across their commodity paper grades as digital alternatives continue to replace paper. Current higher than normal paper prices are expected to fall during 2019, as weak demand catches up with stagnant supply. The recent start-up of previously idled North American newsprint capacity may accelerate the decline of North American newsprint prices 2019.