Cement industry requires packaging that survives today's climate change
Cement industry requires packaging that survives today's climate change

Cement industry requires packaging that survives today's climate change

Ashwani Kumar Sharma, President and CEO - New Business Initiatives, Uflex Ltd
Our packaging helps in marketing brands and creating product differentiation at the retail shelf, says Ashwani Kumar Sharma, President and CEO - New Business Initiatives, Uflex Ltd.

What kind of product segments are you referring to the cement sector?
Over the last three decades, Flex has earned an irreproachable reputation defining the contours of the 'packaging industry' in India and overseas. Uflex enjoys a global reach and provides end-to-end solutions to clients in over 115 countries with unhindered speed, making it truly multi-national. We provide the Flex Safe Bag - the moisture proof cement bag, which is a premium innovation in cement packaging. The bag has won the prestigious Dupont Award for global packaging Innovation at Delaware, USA.

It has features speci-fically design to overcome industry challenges like:
-No moisture ingress,
-Specialised reverse printing up to 12 colours, with half tone images, vignettes with HD graphics, and gloss finish
-Nano perforation technology to reduce the product loss due to oozing and thereby, reducing environmental pollution,
-Anti counterfeit feature with top and bottom metallic seal, and
-Side gusset which gives 360 degree branding possibility.

What is the current market situation in the cement bagging and packaging market?
The cement industry in India is the second largest in the world. With an overall development witnessed across Indian infrastructure, cement production has increased at a CAGR of 6.44 per cent to 282.79 million tonne over FY07-16. As per the 12th Five Year Plan, production is expected to reach 407 million tonne by FY17. What perhaps is the most promising is the housing sector, that accounts potential of 67 per cent of the total cement sector, and that results to potential growth for packaging for retail trade, where packaging plays a vital role.

The cement industry is seeking for a packaging that survives today's harsh and turbulent climate change, manufacturing and distribution process. The market is growing rapidly and the main reason is the change of packaging needs and technical consideration, where manufacturers look for better and highly functional performance packaging solution. The backbone of a cement player is strong when they have strong retail presence. And, in this context, our packaging help in marketing brands better and creating product differentiation at the retail shelf.

What's Uflex's approach to sustainability considering sustainable packaging?
Sustainable packaging is the underlying principle that we follow and this is replicated through our Flex-Safe-Pack, moisture-proof cement bags. Today, more than three per cent of the cement produced is lost in the supply chain and this is largely attributed to the bags being stored in open environment across the supply chain, making them vulnerable to damages caused from exposure to rain, unpredictable outdoor conditions and extreme climate. The micro perforation and absence of anti- counterfeit further leads to oozing, and duplication of the bags causes adulteration resulting in a consolidated loss.

Our Flex Safe Pack with the impressive use of nano technology addresses multiple industry challenges such as preventing waste, enhancing brand equity, and increasing worker safety. Another added feature of holographic metallic top and bottom patch saves from duplication. As an environmentally conscientious organisation, we are mindful of our responsibility towards sustainable packaging. Our packaging is safe for individuals and communities throughout its life cycle.

Are your lines equally fit for handling both - paper bags and HDPE? What kind of trend you see in bagging and packaging, especially in the cement sector?
Our Flex Safe Pack bag is one of its kind packaging solution for cement, and the process and lines are also different from paper and HDPE. We have formula based multi-layered laminated bags, made of MPP and WPP and extrusion layer. These bags are specially designed for better functional performance and keep the product integrity intact throughout the supply chain. In pursuit of quality packaging, the inclusion of the multi-layers and nano perforation technology make the bag better performer then the paper and HDPE bags.

Like other industries, market trends in the cement industry are changing as well, wherein cement is knows as a commodity product and it's difficult to differentiate one from another. Indeed, branding plays an important role to create that differentiation on the retail shelf.

What advantage do cement players gets from technologically advanced packaging systems?
Today, brands are conscious and continuously looking for innovative packaging and Uflex always thrives on continuous innovation. And that's our strength and strategy to achieve sustainable profitable growth in the trade. As mentioned earlier, in cement sector, technology enables an efficient packaging mechanism.

The added feature in Uflex Safe Pack bags, like no moisture ingress eliminates lumping in areas of high relative humidity. Similarly, the nano-perforation technology reduces product loss from oozing and thereby, reducing environmental pollution. The holographic metallic seal at the top and bottom acts as the perfect security feature that prevents from counterfeit issues. The side gussets helps giving a 360 degree brand visibility, the shape helps in best palletising experience. Meanwhile, our bags have possibility of doing better marketing and communication on the packaging with reverse printing up to 12 colours against paper and HDPE bags.

What is your market share in India? How are you planning to increase it?
Uflex is the first company to innovate the premium packaging for cement category. We entered the cement packaging market in 2015 and have received a very positive response. Our capacity utilisation as of date now is 75 per cent, and our expansion plan is to install 10 additional lines in our new plant at Sanand, Gujarat, with an capacity of producing 30 million bags per month. We see a potential growth of our packaging in the country and targeting the premium category of cement brands to be using our packaging solution.

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