Gilad Sadan - N.A.V.I Co. Global

Big gap in Australia's packaging sector

The packaging industry is being revolutionised at the moment with innovative new ideas with a strong growth especially in the snacking vegetable sector. Australia is a very unique market, with only 24 million people and at a great distance from the rest of the world, and it can take a while for new ideas and innovations to reach there.

Gilad Sadan has had many year's experience in the packing industry, working at a large plastic packing manufacturer for the food industry for 11 years in sales and marketing and as CEO of the company for a few years. Much of what the company manufactured was for the fruit and vegetable sector and so Gilad spent a lot of time with growers, in packing sheds and with supermarket buyers.

"There is a big gap in market place now," explains Gilad. "Farmers can no longer be 'just farmers' in the traditional sense, they need to be more forward thinking, need to invest in machinery, new packhouse automation equipment and innovation to find new ways to sell their produce and engage the customers."

Photo: Nature Sweet

"Farmers need to go to the supermarkets with new products and ideas on how to package and sell produce, but they don't have the time for it and don't always know what is available in the rest of the world which could be applicable to the Australian market. That's where I come in and why I started my business. "I try to bridge the gap between the farmer and the retailers.

The consumer doesn't always know what they want, you need to show them and educate them in what can be done and how it can benefit them, according to Gilad. The trend in Australia, on the back of the global trend, is snacking vegetables for school lunches, busy mums, gym going people, there’s very little available healthy snacking options at the moment and I believe the consumer has an appetite for it.

Photo: NNZ Packaging

"It is difficult to convince farmers to take this route," said Gilad. "There are a few marketing companies but its not enough. It is a big stretch for farmers who work hard in the fields to think about what might be on the shelves of London's supermarkets."

An influx of Supermarket buyers from Europe have taken up positions at Australia's supermarkets in recent years, they have brought their knowledge with them and there is an increase of pre-packed fruit and vegetables on the shelves.There seems to be a growing consumer confidence that Pre-packed fruit and vegetables are of high quality and sometimes higher quality than loose fruit as it’s been protected by the packaging and no one has tampered with the goods.

Photo: Mucci Farms

The tomato category is a very big just now and there are a few changes with the focus on snacking tomatoes, also with mini cucumbers and capsicums for the lunch box. There are also good campaigns to highlight healthy eating in Australia such as the “Eat bright feel right” by PMA.

Shelf life has become a big topic in Australia. Due to the size of the country, food travels huge distance to get to the markets and a couple of extra days can make a huge difference to the bottom line at retailer and consumer levels. Furthermore Australia exports huge amounts into Asia therefore shelf life plays a big part in the decision of what packaging to use.

Photo: Red Star

Food waste reduction has also become a big issue in recent years, pack sizes now fit the demographic of the people buying that products, gone are the days of one size fits all. Produce now comes in all sorts of pack sizes and formats: cups,heat sealed and flow wrapped trays, clamshells and stand up pouches.
It is very important for the grower/marketer to pick the best format to suit the category and the marketing message they wish to portray and not just be driven and bound by operational capabilities and constraints.

"There is no real trend of doing away with packaging all together in Australia, they are trying to reduce it by making packaging lighter, converting clamshells into heat sealed trays etc.

There is interest in modified atmosphere packaging especially for leafy greens and a small trend towards recyclable and bio-degradable packaging, but at the end of the day it all comes down to the cost and and bio-degradable is more expensive than regular packaging and of course you need to educate the consumer to difference which also take time and money," explains Gilad.

Photo: Lakeside

Some produce packaging is still made from non-recyclable plastic, PVC not PET, due to the cost of the raw materials, this changing but there is no legislation to force companies to do this. Consumers also need to be able to recognise the different symbols on packaging, or what you get is people who put everything for recycling or those put nothing.

"I tune into what is happening globally in packing, and there is a lot going on. Fruit and Vegetable companies want more persuasive packaging as a way to engage with consumer, there is a shift to branded produce and propriety packaging. It is not a desert here but there is room to grow," according to Gilad.

Photo: Donarosa (Surexport Group.

There is a keen interest in packaging in Australia which is still in its early stages, not just recyclability of packaging but also re-purposing of packaging, for example, on cardboard sleeves you can have pictures for kids to colour in or vouchers to cashed in. Strawberries packed for Valentine's Day and Mother's Day, have used the cardboard sleeve for a “voucher” for a foot massage or a dinner as a romantic gesture by the couple.

Gilad Sadan
N.A.V.I Co. Global
Tel: +61416526536


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