Packaging raises the worth of the product/item because the final users repose faith in buying packed item rather than the non-packed ones. Accordingly households not shy of paying more for packed items with comparison to non-packed items which shows that the packaging is on rise or will double its value amid the quality and standard be maintained. Value of a product is raised when packaging is design in such a way which attracts consumers and even the sharing of information and environment tips on the product able the customer to choose it easily.
For plan made at the point of purchase, packaging undertakes elevated significance related to other communication tool due to its easy accessibility.
Growing Pakistan’s exports and rising domestic consumption of packaged food items have pushed up demand for packaging items that is attracting foreign investment in the country. But domestic packaging sector meets only a part of the local demand and millions of dollars are invested yearly on imports. So, there is much room for enlarging this sector. However, the main problem is that there’s scarcity of facts on production volumes as this sector is not so well organized.
Experts reveal that just four firms involved in manufacturing of packaging products and cataloged on KSE (Karachi Stock Exchange) gives some clues about the working of the sector. But much stays opaque as dozens of other sizable, posted private firms operate with little or no media spotlight while dozens or may be hundreds of small, unregistered firms work in the informal sector.
However, regular holding of yearly global plastic and packaging sector trade fairs for the last 12-year assisted to enlarge the local packaging sector. As a first level, manufacturers of flexible plastic packaging items have organized their representative body known as Flexible Packaging Sector, or Flexpac for short, to assist the sector become more organized.
Presently flexible packaging items are increasingly utilized in food and agricultural industry. From large cans and barrels utilized for storing and transporting pesticides to small butter boxes utilized in retail packaging, there is a long list of such items. Moves to organize food and agriculture packaging industry coincide with the entry of overseas partners in the total packaging sector.
In September 2014, the UK-based Ashmore proclaimed to organize an aluminum beverage can plant near Islamabad with an initial capability of producing 700 million cans yearly. It is also recorded that, an Australian firm has been involved in manufacturing of WPP bags and sheets since 2010, some varieties of which are utilized in packaging of rice, maize, sugar and pulses.
Similarly, in the country, Packages Ltd has organized a joint venture project Bulleh Shah Packaging with Finland’s Stora Enso OYJ Group for improving production of paperboard, paper and corrugated boxes and cartons etc. Although these products will be utilized in a wide variety of industries, it is also said that the company will also cater to extra demand of these packaging materials and products in the agriculture industry.
Exporters of seafood, meat and meat items revealed that the global competition has forced them to adopt well packaging by which they can boost their business. They are now utilizing finest quality of thin plastic sheets and even aluminum foils for packaging lamb or goat carcasses, meat exporter recalling that 10-year ago low-grade paper packaging was common.
Seafood firms in the country are also increasingly utilizing food grade plastic films for internal packaging of fish/fish items before placing them in thermoplastic crates and cartons for shipments. Use of thermoplastic boxes and containers is also common in export-packaging of fruits and vegetables along with parchment paper-cum-corrugated boxes and cartons.
From little cardboard-and-paper packets for mangoes to large polypropylene and jute sacks for rice and from traditional wooden boxes for vegetables to exclusively planned plastic crates for seafood, various packaging items are utilized in the agriculture industry.
Most of these products are produced domestically and some are mostly imported from the Japan, US and China. The bulk of raw materials counting plastics utilized in agricultural packaging products also come from UAE, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
Jute, wood and cotton sacking, plastic and paper of many grades are most broadly utilized in producing of agricultural packaging products. In some cases, products are manufactured each of these items and in other cases a combination of the 2 or 3 works better.
Production of board and paper grew by 11 percent in FY2014 to about 682,000 tones from 614,000 tones in FY2013. But output of jute and cotton sacking has been on a modest fall and the scarcity is increasingly being met by imports.
Production of plywood is also declining and its imports increasing, stats on output of LSM (large scale manufacturing) show. Industry sources proclaim dozens of small factories/units operating in informal sector across Pakistan continue to manufacture tens of thousands of plastic crates and plastic sheets that are utilized for packaging agricultural products.
But recently, China has emerged as a key supplier of these products at competitive rates.
Pakistan is the second largest market of plastic materials in South Asia after India but domestic production of polymer resins is limited to less than 150,000 tonnes, about 60 per cent of which is consumed domestically. On the other hand, presently the use of polymer resins in manufacturing of PET bottles, cans and crates in the country has grown as farmers are shifting from wooden and straw baskets to plastic crates for vegetables and fruits picking and transportation to markets.
While PET bottles are also being increasingly utilized in packaging of fruit juices along with juice boxes, made up of multiple layers of paper.