Significant price increases and a tight supply situation have characterized raw material procurement for paper and board since fall 2020. "Prices for raw materials are in some cases 70 percent higher than usual. Added to this are increased energy and freight costs," says Björn Schote, Managing Director of Verpackungskontor Nord GmbH & Co. (VKN). The supplier, based in Ganderkesee in Lower Saxony, is mainly dedicated to the production and marketing of sustainable packaging solutions.
In addition to the price increases, considerably longer lead times are also causing headaches for the supplier. Schote: "Normally, the raw materials arrived at our plant about 2 weeks after we ordered them. Now it's 16 weeks at worst. Accordingly, we called on customers at the expoSE and Interaspa trade shows to place their orders as early as possible. Many took this advice seriously and ordered packaging from us early. Fortunately, we are still able to serve all inquiries accordingly, especially for coated paper and folding cartons or folding boxes for frozen berries, the lead times are noticeably getting longer."
Left: Björn Schote and Laura Stawinsky.
Right: Blueberry trays and a raspberry box.
New, as well as proven
Founded in 2019, the company has made its way to becoming a well-known supplier of environmentally friendly packaging solutions in just over two years. In addition to the standard asparagus crates and cardboard bowls, VKN is now also represented on the market with its own new developments. "For example, we have developed a small tray with open holes on the top for TOVs, which has been very well received by the trade. Furthermore, the 400-gram cardboard trays have proven themselves as an alternative to wooden trays. In general, the trend in fruit and vegetable packaging is clearly moving towards smaller sizes and individually printable solutions," says Schote.
The trade show booth at last year's expoSE in Karlsruhe, Germany
Not just the northern German asparagus and berry sector, but buyers in France and the Benelux countries are now turning to VKN's wide range of products as well. "Due to the increased appreciation for sustainable packaging, the demand for paper and cardboard solutions has risen immensely. In Germany, the Packaging Ordinance has once again ensured additional growth in a solid board. Meanwhile, demand and thus online mail-order sales have also increased enormously. I am convinced that this upward trend will continue in the near future," Schote explains.
New packaging for TOVs
Grass paper and water-resistant solutions
Despite the encouraging growth rates for paper and board, efforts are being made to develop new types of solutions, Schote continues. "Grass paper is visibly gaining in importance, not only as a carrier bag but also as outer packaging. We have already been able to win over some large companies for our packaging there."
Thanks to innovative solutions, it is now also possible to package sensitive products appropriately, where plastic is still used, Schote adds in conclusion. "For cultivated and wild mushrooms, we have developed a cardboard tray with a water-resistant inner coating, which has already been successfully tested."
Images: Verpackungskontor Nord GmbH & Co. KG