Time to jump on the digital bandwagon says CPI

Corrugated packaging manufacturers invest £500m in digital printing in the last two years

By Jenny Eagle

- Last updated on GMT

Corrugated packaging digital printing

Related tags Digital printing Printing

UK corrugated packaging companies are jumping on the digital bandwagon, driven by shorter run lengths, the rise of the discounters, online shopping and brand customisation, according to The Confederation of Paper Industries (CPI).

Andy Barnetson, director, packaging affairs, CPI, claims investing in print digitalisation adds value for brand owners and retailers by catering for seasonal or event-based promotions and retailers such as Lidl and Aldi have already seen the benefits from improvements in print quality for display-ready packaging.

Significant investments in digital technology

He said the industry has invested nearly £500m in technology and plants in the last two years to support retailers and brand owners with merchandising productivity, whether in transit, back of store or on-shelf.

The corrugated Industry has made significant investments in digital technology which is becoming increasingly important across so many forms of everyday activities, not least in social media and communications, to capitalise on opportunities as they arise​,” he said.

Marc Van Damme, production committee chairman FEFCO (European Corrugated Packaging Association) and chief technical officer, VPK Packaging Group agrees and said: ‘It’s not just about switching to digital, it’s about rethinking your work process’.

He said digital printing on corrugated board for high volume is now becoming a reality, this was confirmed at a workshop organised by FEFCO in Brussels in June 2014.

The workshop gathered more than 120 professionals and experts from the corrugated industry demonstrating the interest for this technology which opens up possibilities for maximising the use of packaging as a platform and communicating directly to consumers. 

The medium can become the message

Angelika Christ, secretary general, FEFCO added with digital printing, corrugated board is being transformed from packaging and protection to a new marketing communications medium.

"It is a real revolution. Now, with corrugated packaging, the medium can become the message​,” she said.

"Digital printing on corrugated board is no hype - it is ready for use in everyday production and makes shorter print runs possible - responding to the changing dynamics in fast- moving consumer goods markets. This gives rise to greater administration and re-organising the prepress work​.”

Barnetson added display packaging and personalisation can provide a critical edge in a fiercely competitive market and whilst the black text printed corrugated box remains the de facto mode of transit packaging, colourful and functional retail-ready options are the norm on-shelf.

Corrugated is a flexible material that already protects, is colour-printable, merchandisable and the most recycled packaging medium. The latest advances in digital printing from a number of suppliers allows corrugated to align with labels and flexible packaging by providing tailored print runs with no minimum requirement​,” he said.

Sales and marketing potential

Shelf-ready packaging reduces handling and waste and has a positive impact on branding – it is used for many of the discounters' products. Print-on-demand offers cost-effective, personalised marketing campaigns to raise a brand’s profile to meet the aspirations of companies for generating sales and marketing potential​.”

Aside from the UK, Brian Risinger, manager, corporate communications and investor relations, Sonoco, North America, told FoodProductionDaily it was looking at the digital market for its uncoated recycled paperboard (URB​).

We are certainly looking at this market and do see opportunity given the growth in “artisanal/craft” products of many kinds where they aren’t packaging large volumes, but do need packaging options to ensure safe and secure delivery of a product, maintain product integrity and provide the opportunity for branding in terms of design, shape and graphics,​” he said.

The growth of chains like Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, EarthFare, Fresh Market, have provided a great marketing outlet for smaller producers​.” 

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