An interview with Coveris’ experts, to understand what the future holds for this booming industry and the role of packaging in it.
With an estimated revenue of 94,76 billion USD, the global pet food market is steadily growing. The fact that over 80 million European households owned at least one pet in the past year proves this point as well1.
To meet growing customer and market demands, Coveris has been extending its range of fully recyclable MonoFlex packaging. Coveris’ Pet Food Segment Leader, Nicolas Plantec, and Flexible BU Innovation Director, Eric Valette, were interviewed to share insights into what the future holds for this booming industry.
Q1: The numbers are speaking for themselves – the pet food market is a growing business! What are the key market trends that are driving this boom, in your opinion, and how is Coveris answering them?
Nicolas Plantec: One of the key drivers for this business’ growth is the ongoing trend of humanization of pets, which results in pet owners paying special attention to the quality of their four-legged family members’ food. Combined with the growing number of pet owners in Europe during the pandemic, it explains why this market is very resilient during a crisis period and keeps steadily growing.
Eric Valette: Another strong trend is sustainability. Pet food producers are looking to satisfy both their product demands and meet environmental and government laws to limit waste. Our MonoFlex family of fully recyclable bags and films is the perfect answer to the global packaging waste evolution.
Q2: It’s been three years since the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak, but its influence is still visible on the market. How did it affect your customers?
Nicolas Plantec: During the pandemic, the UK market saw a 57% increase in dog ownership due to the rising trend of dog adoption as a companion for families.2 European customers also tend to choose to feed their pets premium food. Since these pet owners are mostly located in big cities, rapid urbanization is among the key factors driving the market.
Eric Valette: This trend is largely driven by Gen Z and Millennials who represent 59% of new owners and are aware of the environmental impact of packaging waste, therefore prefer buying bigger and recyclable size packs.3 In combination with the e-commerce growth in Europe where 75% of people buy primarily online, this created a demand for new bag sizes and formats, which we answered.4 We can offer a variety of MonoFlex bags from 1 up to 20 kilograms, from flat bottom to quadroseal bags, both FFS and pre-made, as well as stand-up pouches.
Q3: You have long and rich experience in the pet food market in Europe. How would you say the customers’ demands and challenges have evolved over the past 2-3 years?
Nicolas Plantec: The main challenges during the pandemic years for pet food market were enhanced product safety and hygiene, as well as maintaining supply chain flows working. However, trends are going back now to a pre-pandemic scenario, and we notice that pet food brands are focusing again on innovative and environmentally friendly packaging solutions. As a result, our recommendation is to switch to the polyethylene based MonoFlexE solution, a monomaterial structure which allows recycling in the existing plastic streams.
Eric Valette: To satisfy the growing need of European pet food brands for convenience and ease of use, we worked hard to ensure the bigger bags with PE-based monomaterial structure provide the same benefits as our standard structures to allow easy opening and resealing for extended freshness. In fact, the MonoFlex bags offer a variety of reclosable systems such as top zip, top hook and loop, front or top pocket zipper. Thanks to our in-house R&D capabilities, the new solutions offer customers the same convenience and product protection as the standard designs, while minimizing waste.
Q4: Speaking about minimizing waste, where does Coveris stand? Is the company part of any external sustainability initiatives?
Nicolas Plantec: Sustainability is embedded in Coveris’ mission of No Waste, which aims to provide the best eco-efficient and high-performance packaging solutions both from a product and an operational perspective. The monomaterial solutions from MonoFlex family answer these targets and have the ability to meet the overall European Commission goal to transform 50% of plastics packaging to be reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025.5 On a Group level, Coveris has introduced ReCover, a new business segment responsible for mechanical recycling of plastic films to achieve higher quality, consistent supply of recycled materials.
Eric Valette: Besides launching our own strategies, Coveris Group is also part of many international initiatives to minimize plastic waste. For example, we are a part of the UK Plastics Pact, which brings together enterprises from across the plastics value chain to drive change in the way we design, produce, use, reuse, and dispose of plastic packaging waste. We also collaborate with other packaging producers under the CEFLEX initiative, which focuses on promoting innovative solutions for creating a truly circular economy for flexible packaging. Also, several Coveris sites received the EcoVadis Gold certificate confirming that our operations meet the highest ESG market standards.
Q5: In terms of future innovations, where do you see the main challenges and opportunities? Are you planning any new product launches for pet food market anytime soon?
Nicolas Plantec: The main market’s challenges focus again on maintaining shelf life and boosting end-users’ convenience while switching to more sustainable packaging solutions. At Coveris, we believe that packaging innovations in terms of improved circularity and reduced carbon footprint will be the key drivers in the next years.
Eric Valette: We are planning two important product launches this year for different product categories. For dry pet food, which is our core activity, we developed innovative paper bags that should be ready to market by the end of 2023. For wet pet food, however, we are in the final stages of developing a sterilizable monomaterial pouch with a barrier function, using our award-winning MonoFlexBE material. We are looking forward to introducing both innovations and seeing how the market reacts.
The MonoFlex family of 100% PE-based films is designed for dry pet food packed both in form-fill-seal and pre-made bags including popular formats like block bottom and quadroseal bags as well as stand-up pouches. They are produced across our sites in France, Germany, Hungary, and UK, where they are extruded, printed, and converted on site.
Ultra Premium Direct, a French manufacturer of natural premium pet food, has considered the needs of modern pet lovers and developed a new product range in France called PROTEIN BOOST. This innovative food line offers the best nutrition by combining kibbles made without cereals and freeze-dried pieces of raw chicken and trout dried in the cold. The new product range is available for online purchase at the Ultra Premium Direct’s website from 2022 in Coveris’ MonoFlexE fully recyclable bags made 100% from PE.
“The combination of full recyclability of the monomaterial, the prolonged freshness thanks to the front zip and the enhanced graphics met all our needs. As a result, the new bag created a user and environmentally friendly image for our therapeutic pet food brand”, summarised Olivier Poupon, Demavic Buyer.
“We wanted to be one of the first to offer recyclable bags on the market, but we didn’t want it to impact our production process and machinery. Coveris was able to provide us with a new, recyclable material, however, with the same characteristics as our previous bags with the PET/PE structure,” underlines Jamie Queally, Purchase Manager at Irish Dog Food.
Coveris is a leading European packaging company. It manufactures flexible packaging solutions for some of the world’s most respected brands, producing a wide range of products – from food to pet food, medical goods to industrial and agricultural products. Coveris is organised in three Business Units: Films, Flexibles, and Paper.
Together with its customers, Coveris is continuously developing new, attractive, and sustainable packaging, fully in line with the company’s No Waste sustainability vision. Pursuing this vision, Coveris has recently established ReCover, a separate Business Unit that bundles all steps of waste procurement and processing for circular plastic recycling, thus closing the loop.
With its corporate office in Vienna, Coveris Group has 29 sites in the EMEA region, with a total of 4,100 employees.
Coveris’ extended range of recyclable PE MonoFlex laminate films, bags and pouches will be available at stand C62 in hall 22 during Zoomark (15-17th May in Bologne, Italy) in various formats and sizes up to 20kg.
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