Packaging industry

Israel’s Vision of Transforming Packaging to a Pack-Tech industry

In an Exclusive conversation with Packaging 360, Dr.Shira Rosen, Chairman at Israeli Institute of Packaging discusses various facets on contemporary issues, core strengths  & challenges in the packaging industry in Israel.

Dr. Shira Rosen was the head of the packaging development department in Strauss Group for 18 years until 2019. Currently, Dr. Rosen acts in a number of roles: Chairman of the Israeli packaging institute
Packaging consultant for several companies; Leading innovation processes within companies
Certified as innovation mentor in the Israeli Innovation Institute; Lecturer on packaging at the Technion – The Israeli Institute of Technology

Prior to her role in Strauss, Dr. Rosen worked for seven years at Unilever Israel in packaging development and purchasing. Dr. Rosen has a BSc in food engineering and Biotechnology, MBA and PhD in business administration specializing in creative thinking.

P360: Lets begin with an introduction about yourself & your role as Chairperson of the Israeli Institute of Packaging (IIP)? Please elaborate on the vision of IIP & its interaction with industry & other stakeholders?

Dr Shira Rosen: I admit – I am a packaging “junky”.

I entered the packaging field 25 years ago and immediately “fell in love” with the variance, endless opportunities and creativity that is embedded in the field.

Since than I have been following closely the field as a user and as an engineer and I believe the field has undergone significant progress, touching and influencing many fields, and the sky is the limit!

Therefore, I decided to share my vast experience, knowledge, and networking which I have accumulated over the years, through my significant roles in leading the packaging development division in large, global and innovative companies such as Unilever Israel and Strauss group, into my position as chairman of the Israeli packaging institute. In addition, I mentor and consult various companies and startups helping them reach innovative, sustainable, and cost-efficient packaging solutions.

The Israeli Packaging Institute is a registered nonprofitable organization associated with the Israeli Manufacturing Association. The stakeholders  are from the entire value chain of packaging, consisting RM producers, packaging producers and users, industrial and graphic designers, logistics companies , marketers, recyclers and others.

P360: Please tell us about the salient features & organization of the packaging value chain in Israel?

Dr Shira Rosen: There is a lot of curiosity and awareness about packaging, however there are not many educational sources. Unfortunately, the field is not yet academically recognized in Israel, hence, there aren’t any packaging faculties nor academies. There are various related fields such as plastic and material engineering, industrial design engineering and a packaging course which I teach in the Biotechnology and Food Engineering departments of  the Technion; where I engage in teaching the students the role and importance of packaging in prolonging the shelf-life  and preserving food and medicines. One of the main goals of the Israeli Packaging Institute is to share knowledge and teach the stakeholders , the implications and impact of packaging in a 360 degree understanding. We conduct on yearly basis  various   professional courses and trainings,  teaching packaging from  different perspectives such as sustainability, e-commerce, smart packaging IOT, regulations, innovation, efficiency and more.

P360: How is the packaging community reacting to packaging waste management & sustainability issues in Israel?

Dr Shira Rosen: Sustainability has become a major issue bringing packaging to the forefront. Unfortunately, there are many misleading conceptions, which we need to address. One of these wrong ideas   is that notion that packaging is bad for the environment. Imagine a world without packaging –  that would lead to enormous food waste and lack of transparency concerning the contents. One of the roles of packaging is to protect, preserve and prolong the shelf life of the contents while enabling the end customers  to consume the product in a safe and convenient way. Packaging is a fantastic tool which  supports & promotes  transparency of all products’ ingredients,  it is also a  meaningful tool  in the fight against  food waste. These benefits were  especially evident & emphasized during COVID-19.

On the other hand, we understand that packaging can have a significant impact on the environment and therefore we are responsible to teach how to develop functional as well as  eco-friendly packaging, one that will minimize its end of life impact and promote usage from responsible & traceable sources and be part of the  circular economy. Recycling  awareness in Israel is falling behind the European ,  but its rapidly growing (25% in Israel vs. 75-80% in Europe ) . The consumers demand the option to choose the best product and have an experience suited to their personalized needs and personally influence on the impact on the environment.

The Israeli Packaging Institute is launching these days, a Packaging Manual which includes vital information and  guidelines  how to develop sustainable  eco-friendly packaging , this tool will be useful and  practical detailing different ways and mythologies with the aim of thinking about sustainable packaging from the first step of designing the package  through its POC ( proof of concept ) until it’s manufactured in mass production and reaches its final destination be it the supermarket shelf or e-commerce.

We are continuously searching for new partnerships  and cooperation  to promote recycling in Israel. This year we joined Afeka institute to run a project of UNIDO (The United nations Development Organization) to promote a better circular plastic value chain in Israel.

P360: How does the packaging industry contribute to the growth of FMCG, F&B & pharmaceutical sector, agriculture & horticulture in Israel?

Dr Shira Rosen: The packaging manufactures is still mainly dominant  in the low-tech industries struggling to survive as they are placed between raw materials producers demanding a rise in prices and FMCG buyers who are always  trying to get lower prices and increase their profits in view of the fierce market competition .On the other hand, there is much innovation and clever  development in the packaging field appearing on a daily bases. Israelis are known for their creative and forward thinking, many entrepreneurs are constantly  searching how to invent for the next problem solving solution. Therefore, Israel is not by chance, called the “Startup Nation.”

Israel is the world leader in digital printing and has introduced a great deal of breakthrough technologies and startups in fields such as IOP (internet of packaging), detecting solutions, smart and eco-friendly materials such as high barrier compostable materials, fiber based, water soluble and antibacterial nanomaterials. Smart packaging has become a significant player in industry 4.0, promoting the efficiency of the entire value chain using technologies such as track & trace.

Our goal in the Israeli Packaging Institute is to promote the field and industry by transforming it to a Pack-Tech industry similar to the transformation of the food industry to Food-Tech. We believe that the best way to thrive and become a meaningful player in this arena is through creating a win-win business and academic collaborations between startups and inventors within the industry. We create meetups that involve Academy  , research institutes, startups, and industry members. We initiate challenges with the  support of  the Israel Innovation Authority.

Many global organizations find Israel as an important source for innovation, therefore we are happy to host representatives from global FMCG brands to present their challenge to us  and create a platform of  knowledge- exchange and networking.
Last year we hosted the sustainability and packaging directors of Nestle   and Unilever and this year we plan to host Loreal.

Until recently the role of packaging was mainly a functional role, to protect and to preserve its contents , to inform the end consumer and to differentiate one brand from the other on the retail shelves. Now days with all the innovation that is being introduced, the role of packaging has broadened and has become an important platform of personalized and interactive communication with the end consumer and to enable well-being and lead a smarter life. Some examples are Packaging that will alert you to reorder a product before it runs out, or remind you when to take your pills or measure your consumption. Smart packaging can help end consumers gain better control and efficiency of their lives, so we can all enjoy it more. There are phenomenally successful Israeli companies providing these solutions such as the company Impacx.

The Packaging Institute agenda is to widen the spectrum of stakeholders and promote innovation in various ways. Each year we conduct a packaging competition where many packaging manufactures , designers, industrial and graphic design students as well as end users participate with great enthusiasm  resulting in a collection of  breakthrough packaging concepts and products. Many of the winners of this competition have  also won the global Worldstar competition.

P360: How is the E commerce business in Israel?

Until recently, the first moment of truth was at the point of sale and much effort was put to be an outstanding and preferable packaging on the shelf. For me, visiting a supermarket is like strolling in a museum. Wherever I travel in the world, my first stop is at the supermarket, investigating all the packaging as if they were pieces of art. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 has changed all this and made us recalculate our rout. We are witnessing an even stronger move in the direction of E-commerce and this opened a whole new range of opportunities to design the un boxing experience, creating the ultimate experience, and raising the bar to find new solutions for the packaging role in the digital world .

Packaging is an integral part of the product and a great platform for creating a memorable and exciting experience that many consumers share on social networks creating a trigger for new potential users.
We are only on the tip of the iceberg and I am proud to be part of this exciting world .

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