Ankit Tanna Director, Printmann Group, shares his thoughts on the present situation & also points to the silver lining in the midts of the pandemic.
The Covid-19 pandemic has created an unprecedented disruption globally. It has had an impact on everything, from how we live and interact with each other, how we work and communicate to how we move around and travel. Lockdowns have brought businesses and daily human activities around the world to a standstill. In India, just as around the world, the impact of the coronavirus pandemic is not limited to a few industries. It is evident across all stakeholders of the economy including the packaging industry.
Present day situation
The Indian government was quick to permit packaging companies supplying to the FMCG, food and Pharmaceutical sector to start operations early in the lockdown. However, the packaging industry is facing a number of challenges and still operating much below its installed capacity.
One of the main reasons for this is the shortage of manpower. Most workers who returned to their homes once the Shramik special trains started are yet to report back to work. This has meant operations haven’t been to scale up and operate at full capacity leading to delayed supplies.
Sourcing of raw material due to lockdowns and restrictions on operations of suppliers has derailed supply chains across industries. This has been a challenge for the packaging industry as well. However, pharmaceutical and FMCG clients have been true partners and helped in logistics and cashflow management. Moreover, demand has been steady during these times and this has aided better planning.
The Silver Lining
Although the pandemic has caused some disruption it has also given rise to a number of opportunities, especially to MSMEs in the packaging industry.
An opportunity to reinvent India as a manufacturing hub.
As China faces global repercussions for its mishandling of the coronavirus crisis, several companies who are either manufacturing or sourcing from China are contemplating shifting to other countries. MSMEs in India hold a 48 percent share in India’s exports. However, entrepreneurs need to reinvent their businesses to stay viable in a post-COVID-19 world.
This is an opportune moment to reinvent processes, business models, and outlook to stay attractive to new local markets as well as export markets.
Rise of ecommerce.
The coronavirus pandemic is prompting a change in consumer buying habits. Consumer spending on essential goods has dramatically increased, and shoppers are buying goods online, fueling a strong acceleration of e-commerce shipments and other delivery services. These industries rely heavily on quality packaging for product protection during transit and handling.
Technology enabled packaging helps in dissemination between manufacturer and end-user. Block-chain technology, QR codes and smart labels are incorporated into the packaging and can be scanned by smartphone for further product details. This provides better protection and knowledge to the user.
Ease of operations through the supply chain.
Work from home has become increasingly prevalent during the pandemic, this has meant that a number of operations through the supply chain have been realigned or digitized. For instance, QC/artwork verification processes for printed material that involved approvals from teams in head offices have shifted to the packing units. This has increased efficiency without compromising on compliance.
Prioritization of Health and protection.
Consumer sentiments are now significantly shifting to ‘health and protection first’. This will potentially change consumers’ views on packaging to be more hygiene-focused over aesthetics and even cost. This will force companies to realign their packaging priorities and targets.
The road ahead.
“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom, always to tell the difference.’ This prayer and quote from the book Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut is extremely relevant today. We cannot change or keep complaining about the pandemic. The pandemic has highlighted the importance of packaging. We must now have the courage to accept this new normal and it is imperative for business to be agile, open to new ideas and ways conducting business if we have to deal with these challenges and convert them to opportunities.