Ecolean provides innovative lightweight packaging materials and filling machinery for liquids. With a focus on market-leading lightweight packaging, it has won a number of awards, most recently for the reclosing device SnapQuick. Beverage Packaging Innovation speaks with Anna Annerås, marketing director, to find out more.
Can you provide a brief introduction to Ecolean?
Anna Annerås: Ecolean was established in 1996, and is a global packaging company with its head office in Helsingborg, Sweden. We develop and manufacture packaging material, packages and filling machines for the liquid-food industry. We are a fast-growing company, and are expanding as well as continuously developing our products to deliver on our promise to innovate. We have two packaging systems - one for refrigerated distribution and an aseptic-packaging system for products that do not require refrigerated distribution or storage. Our packages have a unique form that enables our customers to differentiate themselves on the store shelf and are developed with a minimal use of raw material to make our environmental impact as low as possible.
What are the company's current target markets?
We are active in more than 30 countries and, currently, China, Russia and Pakistan are our biggest markets. In addition to the plant in Helsingborg, we have a production unit for the Asian market in Tianjin, China. We are actually expanding our production capacity in both the factories right now to keep up with customer demand and we also need to ensure that we have enough capacity for continued expansion.
Ecolean has market companies in the aforementioned countries and a newly opened office in the US, and we are just about to open an office in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Our packages are used for liquid-food products such as milk, yoghurt, juices, iced tea and other types of non-carbonated beverages.
Where do you see growth across the sector?
In many of the markets where we are active, we can see a high growth in different categories. We are just in the beginning of our expansion into the Americas; we can clearly see that our offering fits well with the innovation the producers are looking for.
Can you please explain the benefits to the environment, and materials that are brought by Ecolean?
Our approach to make as little impact on the environment as possible is simple - use as little raw material as possible from the start. This has effects throughout the whole life cycle of the package, which has the same good functionality as many of our competitors, but the weight of the package is half. Our 1L pack weight is only 14g. Lightweighting is a talked-about trend and the brand-owners we are working with are reporting improved environmental profiles, brand image and company reputation are among other benefits when using our packs.
Are there new product launches you are able to talk about, and can you elaborate on the development of the products?
We are launching a reclosing device called SnapQuick for our family-sized packages that recently won the WorldStar packaging award 2014. In everything we do, it is important for us to stay true to our lightweight philosophy; to continuously introduce new solutions that use considerably less raw material than all other packaging solutions available on the market. This is what we did in the case of SnapQuick, which weighs only 0.5g - substantially less than other types of reclosing features, such as screw caps.
We are also introducing an aseptic transparent package, to be shown at the Anuga FoodTech exhibition in Cologne in March 2015. We have been determined to deliver on the trend of transparency, where the consumers are actually able to see what they are buying, and have created a package in our Ecolean format for ambient distribution and storage. We see big potential for this package especially in the juice, nectars and still drinks categories.