On 4 and 5 June, one of this year’s hot topics will be on the agenda in Bonn: sustainable packaging. Joined by experts from the packaging industry and across the wider value chain, AMI and Fruchthandel Magazine bring the industry a new conference looking for answers to some of the most pressing questions in packaging.
Fruitnet’s Kaasten Reh and AMI’s Dr Hans-Christoph Behr tell us what to expect from the inaugural European Packaging Forum.
Last year, you organised conferences on tomatoes and convenience. Why packaging this year?
HCB: The subject of packaging is extremely current. The consumer press reports on it basically non-stop. We’re once again experiencing the power of images. Of course, a dead whale leaves consumers with a lasting impression and provokes outcry. As a result, many consumers say they would like to do without packaging. And retailers have been trying to outdo one another with announcements about how they will reduce their use of packaging.
Despite this, the fact is that consumers are increasingly turning to pre-packaged goods at the point of sale. Some growth categories owe much of their success to customised packaging, but the entire industry is challenged with finding new solutions.
What awaits delegates at the conference? How will you tackle this complex topic? What questions will you ask?
HCB: The topic is of course very complex. It is so multifaceted that it can hardly be done in one day. But we want to analyse important aspects and try to give new inspiration to the different parts of the value chain.
From morning until noon, we will have numerous speakers from organisations, agencies and research bodies on the programme. They will try to independently and objectively illuminate the topic, discussing new packaging laws, the thinking and behaviour of consumers, the protective function of packaging, its design and its communication function.
KR: In the afternoon breakout sessions, we will hear from experts in various packaging segments, including wood, foils, cardboard and alternative materials. We want to see what solutions each material can offer for the future.
It is already clear that some products wouldn’t work if packaging were removed completely. Many products need some form of protection, and others would be hard to market without packaging. Think of berries, whose success in recent years would not have been possible without packaging. But there is also the opinion that you can do without packaging, or at least most of it.
How do you describe the concept of your events?
KR:We always think it's right and good to look at things from different perspectives. In our opinion, it doesn’t hurt to take a very practical perspective, as well as offering a theoretical or scientific analysis. To do this we have invited experts from the field, from specialist sectors and different parts of the trade, who know from experience what solutions could work.
You’ve told us what delegates can expect, but what do you expect as organisers of the European Packaging Forum?
KR: Of course, we hope for a lively conference, attended by people from as many parts of the industry as possible. After all, the form of the packaging, and how goods are ultimately offered to consumers, has an effect on the entire supply chain. Today more than ever, actual category management is needed.
We have chosen to host our conference at the beginning of June again this year, but this time round the event will take place on a Wednesday, with a get-together the night before.
We know these are days of the week that are not ideal for everyone, but we also know from experience that no day will be perfect for everyone. We hope companies can organise accordingly and find the time to participate.
Information on the programme, sponsoring and registration for the European Packaging forum can be found on the Fruchthandel website.