‘The Conference and Brokerage Event, Innovation and Packaging Solutions for Food SMEs’, in partnership with The Enterprise Europe Network and ITENE (The Packaging, Transport and Logistics Research Center), among others, held a face-to-face networking event targeting small food producers and the companies who can provide technology and knowledge to help them access more creative and sustainable packaging.
European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme
The project has received funding from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme for research, technological development and demonstration under grant agreement no.613776.
Dr. Joan Lockyer, assistant director, Institute of Applied Entrepreneurship, told FoodProductionDaily the traditional food sector is massive and culturally rooted in its manufacturing practices but at the same time it is fragmented by the nature of its business, often trading locally and producing products in the same way it has done for the past 50 years.
“Dairy, meat and bakery local producers have aspirations to be part of the bigger picture and want to embrace other areas of technology and innovation without impacting the nature of their product," she sadi.
“But, they are not being innovative enough. Why would they be if they have been doing the same thing for the last 50 years? Our message is, if you don’t evolve in some way, you will die because SMEs are facing stiffer competition than ever before.
“Demand for traditional food is rising because consumers are looking for ‘greener’ alternatives, looking to buy locally sourced produce such as traditional breads, cheeses and meat, but at the same time, people want it at the right price. You cannot be an artisan producer and cost effective or you want to break out of your limited sphere.
“We are trying to offer SMEs an alternative packaging, that doesn’t adulterate the product and offers ways of preserving their product to sell it further afield. We want them to see how packaging can perform multiple roles, it helps to build a brand, preserves fragile products like cakes, contributes towards logistics to ship it farther without it getting damaged and can stop a product drying or eliminate moisture.”
Gower Cottage Brownies & Sweet as Cakes
Speakers at The Brokerage Event included Hans Michael Krause, business development director, Bosch Rexroth; Eef de Ferrante, director, Active & Intelligent at Packaging Industry Association (AIPIA); and Armand Marcé, CEO, Chimigraf.
SMEs that attended Hispack included Gower Cottage Brownies and Sweet as Cakes from the UK. Case studies highlighted at the show were Chimigraf in Spain, which in collaboration with ITENE has created an ink called Freshinklabels that indicates the freshness of packed chicken, in real time, by changing the colour on its pack.
The main topics during the conference were; active and intelligent packaging, Modified Atmosphere Packaging (MAP), sustainability, packaging machinery and funding programmes for SMEs.
“Our strategy has nothing to do with changing the product but everything around it, we don’t want to destroy what SMEs have established,” added Lockyer.
“We don’t have a magic wand but we can advise SMEs about what’s happening within the industry with our events. It might be old hat technology to some but it’s new to them.”
TRADEIT is running a series of Brokerage Events to get manufacturers in the same room as SMEs. The aim of the event is to; ‘to plant seeds around their own innovation strategy’, inform them about what’s coming up within the industry and to introduce them to other SMEs who are experiencing similar problems.
The next event is for the meat sector in Logrono, Spain from May 5-6 called Innovation and Technology for the Meat Sector.