Jeevaraj Pillai, Jt. President Packaging & New Product Development (Flexible Packaging Business), Uflex, in an interaction with Sudhakar Singh, Editor, Industry Outlook, shares his views on the current evolution of the packaging industry.
How has the packaging industry evolved in the recent times, especially given during the pandemic?
covers a very large band of food products and essentials. So, when the lockdown was announced, we had to gear up with all our resources to keep the plant running; otherwise the supply chain would have been disrupted. Most of the staples like rice, sugar, oil, tea, coffee, biscuits etc are the main food products which are packed in flexible packaging material. Continuing the operations was a challenge initially with the absenteeism and people not being able to reach the factory. But we were successful enough to keep the plant running and continue production on full scale.
So for us, there was no lockdown per se and we had to put in all our efforts to bring in people and generate passes to run the factory. As for the disruption and market volatility, essentials were quite stable. In the packaging industry, whoever was successful in running the plant was able to produce at the same rate as the time during the pre-pandemic period.
What are the major challenges faced by manufacturers? And how are they addressing them?
India manufactures a lot of plastic raw materials but major consumption of raw materials is from large players through import. Moreover, the transportation industry was badly affected because of inter-district and interstate movement restrictions. So, maintaining a supply chain in terms of raw material was a big challenge. But fortunately for us, we do most of the manufacturing of raw materials ourselves. So, as for the packaging industry, we were least affected, but by and large, the industry was affected because of the issues in the transportation.
Also the goods which were produced had to be transported to different customers. That was a challenge because of the inter-state and inter-district movement restrictions. The home ministry used to come out with broad guidelines which had to be implemented by the district authorities and administration and they interpreted it and then according to the situation they kept modifying it.