Big-name brands expected to turn out in force for Packaging Innovations & Empack

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Big-name brands are set to turn out in force to Packaging Innovations & Empack 2024, with organisers Easyfairs confirming representatives from powerhouse brands are up 40%. The news comes against a backdrop of increasingly complex legislation, with the full implementation of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) due in 2025 and is perhaps a sign of businesses starting to rethink their packaging ahead of the introduction of fees next October. Already one of the highlights of the global packaging industry’s calendar, Packaging Innovations is the premier event for professionals in packaging, NPD, R&D, marketing, buying, branding, and design. The two-day showpiece, due to take place at Birmingham’s NEC on February 21 & 22, has an unrivalled reputation for connecting key decision-makers from the packaging and FMCG worlds, celebrating today’s innovations and shaping the trends of tomorrow. And with the final countdown well underway, event organisers have confirmed the number of big-name brands expected to be in attendance is up 40% on last year’s figure. “As new EPR legislation continues to tighten its grip, the news will come as little surprise,” said Naomi Stewart, Marketing Manager at Easyfairs. “The exhibition, and indeed the entire packaging agenda, has been propelled by the sustainability story for a good number of years. “But now we’re seeing brands transition from the talking and planning stage, to physically doing something about it. It’s likely some of this upturn can be attributed to the realities and practicalities becoming abundantly clear. Whether it’s assurance they’re doing the right thing or inspiration, looking for an overhaul or seeking the final piece in their packaging puzzle, it’s fantastic to see them turning to Packaging Innovations once again.” Exhibitor places are sold out ahead of what is set to be a blockbuster show, with over 400 preparing to network with brands such as Aldi, Asda, Britvic, Boots, Cadburys, Costa Coffee, Diageo, DHL, Heinz, Holland & Barrett, Hovis, Iceland, KFC, M&S, Molson Coors, Nestle, Oh Polly, Sainsbury’s, Sky, Superdrug, TATA, Tesco, Unilever, and Waitrose. “We’re continuing to register VIP attendees from some of the biggest brands around,” continued Stewart. “As things stand, hundreds are set to explore the diverse array of suppliers offering a comprehensive range of packaging products and services, spanning from design to cutting-edge primary and secondary packaging, contract packing, e-commerce fulfilment, labelling and printing, and advanced packing and processing technology.” This year’s edition of Packaging Innovations & Empack already looks set to be the biggest ever, with a record-breaking number of visitors expected and over 400 exhibitors in attendance for the UK’s flagship exhibition. “When you combine some of the biggest names in packaging with household names like John Lewis, Interfora, Mars INC and Amazon, and then throw in the 30+ complimentary talks from leading brands, packaging designers, and thinkers, the already strong proposition is now bordering on unmissable,” added Stewart. Complimentary visitor tickets for Packaging Innovations & Empack 2024 will remain available right up until the day of the event, and you can register now by clicking here.

Vickers Oils to open new purpose-built facility for Food Grade Lubricants and Greases

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Vickers Oils is to formally open a purpose-built facility for the manufacture of Food Grade Lubricants and Greases this month (February). The new site is 2 miles from its main ‘Airedale Mills’ factory in Hunslet, Leeds. It is not a food manufacturing site, nor a typical lubricants manufacturing plant, but something in-between. It is also believed to be the only such large-scale facility in the UK. Being self-contained, all raw materials and finished products on site will be Food Grade only, thereby significantly eliminating the risk of any cross-contamination with the type of non-Food Grade chemicals that would typically be present in abundance, were the site multi-purpose. Whilst personnel will move between the two sites in Leeds, the manufacturing team will have dedicated clothing for the new site as another example of contamination avoidance. As is often said, “we are what we eat” and consumers are increasingly concerned about the provenance, quality and safety of what goes in the shopping basket. “That is the primary reason for building a dedicated manufacturing site,” says Paul Vann, Managing Director for Vickers Oils. Beyond the manufacturing equipment and infrastructure, the development includes a quality control laboratory and training suite. With a modular design to easily enable increased scale with business growth, the mains electricity supply from renewable resources will be complemented by a full array of roof-mounted solar panels.

Packaging Innovations aims to deliver “next-level experience” with surprise extra speaker announcement

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Packaging Innovations & Empack is set to deliver its biggest and most insight-rich showcase yet after it added speakers from DHL, TerraCycle, the Met Police, Amazon and more, to its already-packed speaker lineup. The new additions further boost the speaker programme across both days – 21 & 22 February – and all three conference stages at the Birmingham NEC. Highlights include a talk from Phillip Stevenson, Managing Director – London at JDO and Mark Buckley, Strategic Design Manager at the Ellen MacArthur Foundation on scaling returnable packaging, and a discussion on recycling and reusable solutions from Justin Tremblin, General Manager at TerraCycle Europe. Other headline-grabbing additions include two must-see presentations on counterfeiting and brand protection. The two back-to-back talks take place on the Supply Chain and Manufacturing Stage, starting with a presentation titled ‘Counterfeiting unpacked: a new dawn for brand protection’ from Det Insp Andrew Masterson of the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit, City London Police. This is followed by a discussion titled ‘Proactively protect your brand from counterfeits’, which will see Güneri Tugcu, Senior Partner Manager, Transparency at Amazon unpack the importance of transparency on the eCommerce age. “We want every Packaging Innovations show to over-deliver by providing insights that attendees can’t get anywhere else,” said Renan Joel, Divisional Director – UK & Global Packaging Portfolio, at event organiser Easyfairs. “Our goal is to provide a next-level experience for all our visitors, so when the opportunity arose to strengthen our speaker lineup even further, providing even more value for attendees and exhibitors alike, we jumped at the chance. “We have some of the world’s pre-eminent thought leaders due to speak on the burning issues affecting the packaging industry today, ranging from sustainability to innovation to crime and counterfeiting. These additions only further establish Packaging Innovations as the place to be for any business with an eye on the future of packaging.” Elsewhere, the Circular Economy stage plays host to three representatives of Defra, who will discuss the UK Government’s plans for working with the packaging industry in another must-see presentation that comes amidst continued uncertainty surrounding sustainability legislation. The Innovation & Design Stage, meanwhile, has been bolstered with a talk on revitalising heritage brands, set to be delivered by Richard Mills, Head of Retail and Grocery at Pizza Express, alongside Richard Brandon Taylor, founder of Brandon Consultants. The full, finalised speaker programme can be found on the Packaging Innovations website, www.packagingbirmingham.com. If you’ve never experienced the show before, there’s no better time to jump in than 2024. Complimentary visitor passes will remain available throughout the event; you can register by clicking here.

Kite Packaging launches corrugated fanfold

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Kite Packaging, a premier UK packaging supplier, has launched its corrugated fan fold. Corrugated fan fold is a long sheet of cardboard that has been scored and folded at regular intervals to resemble a fan. It allows large scale businesses to produce bespoke boxes on demand when used with automated box-making machines. Its single wall C flute corrugation offers excellent resistance to crushing and compression, as well as robust stacking strength for the handling, storage, and shipment of goods. Key features and benefits include: – On demand bespoke packaging production for various product sizes and specifications, consolidating SKU and inventory management. – Flexibility and lead time benefits, enabling swift adaptation to evolving packaging needs without service disruptions. Kite’s fan fold is 100% Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified and can help businesses drive their CSR commitments. “Fan fold is a fantastic product that can be used by a variety of our customers,” says Gavin Ashe, Managing Director at Kite Packaging. “It was traditionally used in semi-manual format for long and flat items but has recently evolved into feed stock for automated packaging machinery that forms a box on demand. “Since fan fold has great environmental benefits, we have made it standard stock product. As always at Kite, we are keen to help customers minimise their environmental footprint whilst providing cost-effective solutions delivered next day.” Kite’s corrugated fan fold is available in the dimensions of 623mm x 600 and can be purchased by customers at competitive price points, with attractive discounts offered on wholesale quantities. To learn more, please visit www.kitepackaging.co.uk.

ofi creates solar-powered cocoa bean warehouse at Port of Amsterdam

olam food ingredients (ofi) and Commodity Centre Group (CCG) have partnered to create a cocoa bean warehouse terminal exclusively using green energy at the Port of Amsterdam in the Netherlands. ofi and CCG jointly achieved this by installing nearly 7,000 solar panels at the warehouse, which could lead to the reduction of 1,350 tons of CO2 per year. This is the equivalent of 67,500 trees absorbing carbon from the atmosphere and utilizes roof space in the region of two football pitches in size to maximize green energy usage. The company expects the warehouse to also be certified carbon-neutral in the future. The warehouse is critical for helping ofi deliver high-quality cocoa beans to its global confectionery brand customers. Using an innovative conveyor belt system, cocoa is directed into one of the 110 available pens, creating bulk micro lots managed by CCG. Not only does this enable greater segregation of beans to preserve their flavor, but it also helps maintain quality and traceability. The company believes it is one of the only systems like this in existence, and thanks to the solar installation, the process now exclusively uses renewable energy. This latest move forms part of ofi’s ambition for sustainable cocoa, Cocoa Compass, which sets ambitious goals – including a 30% reduction in natural capital costs by 2030. ofi reduced these costs in 2021 in its global cocoa processing operations by 11% per metric ton of product output, partly due to investments in renewable energy initiatives. Chris Beetge, President of Europe, Middle East, and North Africa, ofi, said: “We’re always looking at ways to drive decarbonization across our cocoa value chain from the farm to our processing facilities and warehouses. “The milestone of turning our Amsterdam warehouse operation solar-powered is another example of how we’re not only progressing towards our own environmental goals but also supporting those of our customers and the national climate agendas of the Netherlands and the EU.”

Cargill buys two meat plants

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Cargill has invested in two processing facilities to expand its production and distribution of supermarket case-ready beef and pork to retailers in the Northeast part of the US. Cargill has purchased case-ready meat plants in North Kingstown, R.I., and Camp Hill, Penn. from Infinity Meat Solutions, subsidiaries of Ahold Delhaize USA. Cargill team members already staff both facilities, stemming from a long-term partnership with Ahold Delhaize USA companies to produce packaged ground beef and pork, muscle cuts and value-added products such as seasoned, marinated and breaded meats for the retailer’s U.S. grocery store brands. Cargill will continue to service Ahold Delhaize USA brands in the Northeast, while expanding its case-ready production and distribution capabilities from the two plants to additional retailers. “With this investment, we look forward to our continued partnership with Ahold Delhaize USA companies while bringing additional high-quality case-ready products to new retail customers,” said Hans Kabat, president of Cargill’s North American Protein business. “By bringing more of our case-ready and value-added protein products to retailers, their employees can spend less time on back-room prep work and more time helping their customers at the meat counter.”

Louis Dreyfus Company to construct new pea protein production plant in North America 

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Louis Dreyfus Company (LDC) is building a new pea protein isolate production plant dedicated to its Plant Proteins business, at the site of its existing industrial complex in Yorkton, Saskatchewan, Canada. Michael Gelchie, LDC’s Chief Executive Officer, said: “As a leading global merchant and processor of agricultural goods, LDC is committed to helping meet demand for food, feed and biofuels through our integrated and expanding North American industrial centers – Claypool (Indiana) and Upper Sandusky (Ohio) in the US, and Yorkton (Saskatchewan) in Canada. “And like other key development projects for LDC in North America, the investment announced today is an important step in the Group’s global growth strategy, as part of our plans to diversify revenue through value-added products – in this case, addressing growing demand for high-quality, nutritious and sustainable plant-based protein alternatives.” Expected to be ready by the end of 2025, the new facility will enable LDC to deliver to customers highly functional, taste-neutral, nutritious ingredients, well-suited for dairy alternatives, high-protein nutrition solutions and other plant-based applications. It will also expand and accelerate the company’s existing pea protein isolate and non-GMO soy isolate offering. The new plant is expected to employ approximately 60 people. “Pea protein demand continues to grow, due to its non-allergen and non-GMO status, and its sustainability and versatility across many food applications,” said Thibaut Ferté, LDC’s Head of Plant Proteins. “Leveraging our expertise, value chain and global asset footprint, we aim to address current industry challenges with a unique and best-in-class product. This was made possible thanks to proprietary technology developed at our dedicated R&D center in Livermore, California, where we continue to build future solutions alongside our customers, including plans to expand beyond pea and soy, to offer a range of premium proteins.”

Dawn Foods acquires Royal Steensma

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Global bakery manufacturer and ingredients supplier Dawn Foods has acquired Royal Steensma, a family-owned bakery ingredients manufacturing company headquartered in Leeuwarden, The Netherlands. Royal Steensma has a broad bakery product portfolio and specializes in fat-based coatings (Souplesse), almond and confectionary pastes, bakery mixes, fruit fillings as well as infused and candied fruits and decorations. Royal Steensma has been a leader in the bakery market for almost 185 years. The acquisition includes four manufacturing plants in The Netherlands, a manufacturing facility in Thailand, and continued involvement with the Food Innovation Academy (FIA) education center in The Netherlands. Additionally, all Royal Steensma employees are now team members of Dawn. “We are proud to welcome the team from Royal Steensma to Dawn and to build on our shared bakery knowledge and history of providing incredible products to bakers all around the world,” said Dawn Foods’ Chief Executive Officer, Carrie Jones-Barber. “The expansion of our manufacturing capabilities and product portfolio further strengthens our mission to provide customers with bakery solutions that truly inspire and help them achieve their business goals.” “Dawn’s century of bakery expertise, long-term vision, commitment to company values, and sincere dedication to team members, customers, and suppliers were the determining factors in entrusting Royal Steensma to Dawn Foods,” said Alfred Bruin, owner of Royal Steensma. “Additionally, Dawn has the same creative entrepreneurial spirit of a family-owned company, which gives me the confidence that the essence of the family business will be safeguarded, providing a promising future with numerous new opportunities for our loyal and valued employees and customers.”

Asda changes beef mince packaging to save over 60 tonnes of plastic each year

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Asda is removing traditional plastic tray packaging across its Just Essentials beef mince range and is replacing it with a lighter and recyclable flexible plastic film alternative.

The new packaging, which is now available in stores and online, contains 60% less plastic than previous version and is fully recyclable through Asda’s in-store collection points, which will help to remove 67.6 tonnes of plastic from Asda’s supply chain annually. The previous version of the packaging was used from May 2022 through to January 2024.

The vacuum-pack method of packaging removes the oxygen which typically causes a product to eventually spoil meaning the product has a longer shelf life than before. Thanks to the new method the pack is smaller in size taking up less space in the fridge, whilst containing the same amount of beef mince as before the change.

It’s the latest in a string of changes from the supermarket as it continues to head towards its target of 100% recyclable packaging by 2025.

Jon Wells, sustainable packaging manager at Asda, said: “We’re always looking at new ways that we can make positive changes which will benefit both our customers and the planet, and we believe that this is one of those changes.

“Not only does this improve shelf life and provide greater convenience for our customers, it also removes tonnes of non-recyclable plastic from our supply chain, reducing our carbon footprint.”

The Compleat Food Group makes duo of acquisitions

Nottingham-based The Compleat Food Group has sealed a duo of deals, acquiring SK Foods and Zorba Foods from The Entrepreneurial Food Group. The two food businesses are category leaders in private label chilled party foods and dips and deli fillings, with a combined turnover of over £160m and over 1,150 employees. Formed in 1987, Teesside-based SK Foods employs over 770 people and specialises in globally inspired party foods including Indian, Oriental, Tex Mex, Mediterranean, and Traditional British favourites. It holds around 40% of the market share for private label party foods outside of the Christmas period and became part of The Entrepreneurial Food Group in 1999. South Wales-based Zorba Foods was formed in 1976. Now employing nearly 380 people at its Gwent site, it started out creating authentic Greek houmous, before expanding to cover a range of Greek, Traditional, Tex Mex and Asian-inspired dips and sauces, alongside soups, for retail and foodservice. It holds around 25% share of the private label dips market and became part of the Entrepreneurial Food Group in 2003. Nick Field, CEO, said: “We’re incredibly excited about these two significant additions and what they bring to the group, with both companies having strong heritage in their categories for creating great food that people love. We plan to continue investment in both companies to extend their respective capabilities, allowing us to further innovate and inspire within their categories. “For The Compleat Food Group, these acquisitions accelerate our commitment to build on our breadth of capability, increase our category leadership position, and deliver more excitement and interest to delight our consumers, driving sustained growth in the sector.” Jeremy Faulkner, CEO of both SK Foods and Zorba, said: “At the heart of both SK Foods and Zorba is a commitment to real food values. It’s what our reputations have been founded on and why we are able to say that we are category leaders. “With The Compleat Food Group, we have found a natural partner who not only shares our values, but also the ambition to invest and support us in driving further innovation and growth for our categories and key partners.”