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Date 28th October 2010 / www.procarton.com

Report on ECMA


In October 1960, 10 national carton associations founded ECMA. After a few years of careful bilateral contacts, a formal structure was established to engage in cross border communication, the exchange of market data and promote technical development of equipment.

These were the days of European post war recovery and the foundation of the European Economic Community. One of the first projects of the newly founded association was a study into the development of a new phenomenon called ‘supermarkets’, of which a number count revealed that there were less than 1000 in the participating countries.

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Now, 50 years later, the EEC has become the EU, the world has become a global marketplace and consumer convenience has become the norm in the mature societies of today. This year’s congress celebrated five decades of engagement on the European scene, and took stock of where we are today and where we should go tomorrow.


Keywords for that future are ‘innovation’, ,food safety’ and ‘sustainability’ and ECMA secured a panel of expert speakers to address these topics. As last year, BBC Correspondent Nick Higham took the role of moderator and a new item in this year’s programme was the interactive ‘Blue Ocean Strategy’ workshop that closed the congress. After last year’s success, the Business Information Market returned on this year’s agenda.
The ECMA congress has always been the premier meeting place for executives in the folding carton sector, and this anniversary congress again featured an exceptional programme and also many social networking activities.

Looking forward
Per Lundeen, the current President of ECMA opened the Congress by detailing how much the world had changed since 1960. The world population was, at 9 billion, now three times what it was then, OPEC was founded and supermarkets were in their infancy. He looked forward to an excellent congress that would focus on Innovation, Food safety and Sustainability and said that he was delighted that 162 delegates from 18 countries were attending and they were joined by many of the previous Presidents of ECMA who he warmly welcomed. The title of the Congress was “50 years of ECMA – revisiting our future” and the President felt that whilst it was always good to look back, it was more important to look forward.

Austria, back in the centre of Europe
The first two presentations were focussed on the host country Austria. Dr Erhard Busek, a leading political figure in Austria said that Austria was on the eastern rim of the western world and as such had close links with Eastern Europe not only geographically but also mentally which he believed was a vital component in building relationships and trading. In the last few decades over 20 new countries were founded and all were close to Austria and following the historic events in 1989, Austria was now back at the centre of Europe. He added that many of these new countries had developed fast and that now the big challenge ahead was migration integration. He added that he felt that Turkey could provide a valuable link between Europe and the Middle East but that currently he did not see them as a member of the EU.

Knowledge Key to the Future
Dr Wilhelm Hörmanseder, the Chairman of the Management Board of Mayr Melnhof Karton AG, said that the creation of paper and board in China had given the Chinese supremacy at that time and that since then paper and board had become an utterly indispensible part of life. He said that he believed that in manufacturing, size was not nearly as important as the flexibility and speed of smaller units and the balancing of costs. He believed the good years were long since gone and that the key to the future was knowledge and that to gain this Mayr Melnhof have deliberately put education well up their agenda. The group have created their own academy to increase knowledge and are currently considering opening this facility up to the wider industry. He summarised by saying that the two key elements going forward were knowledge and the need to speak louder about the benefits of cartons and cartonboard in a cohesive way.

The Business information market sessions, which were initially introduced in 2009, took place again and three parallel sessions had been arranged. One covered Printing technology and presentations were made by Heidelberg, Agfa Dotrix and Gallus. The second covered Pre and post-press issues with speakers from Esko Artwork, Bobst and an update on the status of the ECMA code of carton styles. Finally the third track covered Food safety with detailed presentations from Keller and Heckman who looked at the legal issues, Franz Rappold of MM Karton who updated the audience from the cartonboard manufacturers perspective and finally Joanna Stevenson of Sun Chemical looked at the issues from the viewpoint of an ink maker and supplier. All three sessions were well attended and much valuable information was imparted to their audiences.

Carton prospects up to 2014
On the afternoon of the first day, the business trends in the Carton market were examined both from a European and US perspective. Simon Southern of PRISM, gave a detailed overview of the research he has recently carried out for ECMA on the carton prospects up to 2014 and said that in his view the main factors influencing upcoming demand were the changing demands made by consumers such as a move away from premium products to more economy and discount lines and also a further growth on own label markets where he had identified a growth trend of around 7% per annum. His report which updates the one he wrote two years ago is available for purchase through the ECMA website.

Ben Markens the President of the North American paperboard Packaging Council (PPC) supported by Steve Levkoff, the Chairman of the Board, discussed the general US economy and showed some folding carton specific information. As regards the general economy, he showed results from a recent Nielsen Survey that the typical American is currently less optimistic than the typical European. He then showed an ECMA/PPC survey which showed a decline in US optimism compared to ECMA during the 2nd quarter of 2010.


Regarding carton volume in tonnes over the next five years, the forecast is for almost no change for the period -- though there is some annual fluctuation up and down during the period. The same holds true for inflation adjusted dollar value per tonne. Growth end use markets will be pharmaceutical, dry food, retail carry out, frozen foods and beverages. The largest declines will occur in soap and cleansers, hardware and tobacco.

Challenges for ECMA – Roadmap towards 2015
Before the panel discussion which closed the day, Per Lundeen returned to the lectern to give an update on the status of ECMA and the plans for the future. He looked back at the successes since 2000 but wanted to focus more on the challenges ahead. He said that after a brainstorming session held recently in Milan, five areas had been identified and these would provide the focus for the future activities of ECMA. These focus points were profitability where he introduced the concept of “fifteen for fifteen” (15% EBITDA for 2015) – symbolising the association’s drive to facilitate and support a healthy financial development of the sector in the longer run. He then commented on food safety where the challenge he said was to get cartons recognised as food safe, and on sustainability to ensure that carton packaging was recognised by retailers, brand owners and consumers as sustainable, renewable and recyclable. Then he added that it was planned to have the carton industry recognised as a reliable competent player in the packaging market and to reposition ECMA as a more outward looking association. To achieve these goals he said it was necessary to streamline the structure and increase funding, redefine responsibilities and leadership and finally create even closer links with Pro Carton.

What do the opinion leaders say?

Toward the end of the day session, Nick Higham hosted a question and answer session with major opinion leaders from the industries consisting of Öystein Aksnes of Stora Enso, Andreas Blaschke from Mayr Melnhof Packaging, Daniel Keesman of August Faller, Stefano Trombetta from Fincarta, Tom Reid from Nampak and Roland Rex from Weig Karton and President of Pro Carton. All felt that the industry, having been through a difficult couple of years was well placed to move forward using the excellent sustainability characteristics of cartons and cartonboard to promote greater usage. The oil price was, it was generally felt, only likely to rise ever further and this, allied to the less beneficial environmental appeal of oil based products, would lead to potential growth in the carton sector. Andreas Blaschke ended by saying that in his view “only the brave will prosper” and he therefore urged the carton and cartonboard industry to be bold and felt sure that if they were they would progress well.

To celebrate the 50th Anniversary of ECMA, Mans Lejeune who managed ECMA from its early days, had written a history of ECMA but he was unfortunately unable to be present at the congress to launch this new book. In his place his son, Jules Lejeune, gave details of the contents of this book which looked at the events, highpoints and the people who have helped shape ECMA in its first 50 years. Copies of the book were given to all delegates and to celebrate the launch all the Past Presidents who were present at the Congress toasted the past and future success of ECMA.

How sustainability reduces business vulnerability

Opening the second day of the Congress Professor Dr Wolfgang Wimmer and Dr Stefan Gara presented their views on how sustainability can help to reduce business vulnerability and secure competitive advantage in a changing world. They argued that the recent problems suffered by BP were in fact not as severe as many people had thought and that the insurance markets had suffered as a result. They also said that every business has to understand the “tipping point” where things become critical so that plans can be laid to avoid difficulties arising. After this Kathleen McKnight announced the results of a survey she had undertaken for both the PPC and ECMA to assess the sustainability reach managed by the carton industry. This covered all aspects of sustainability that need to be considered and she reported that she was pleased to find some companies who were operating in this area to a very high level. Whilst there were differences between the results in the US and Europe with Europe ahead, this was only slight and progress was being made fast on both sides of the Atlantic.

Cloud Computing as new business concept
Hans van Grieken of Cap Gemini, spoke about the trends in the retail sector and how businesses can react to adapt to their changing needs. He also elaborated on “Cloud Computing” and said that moves in this direction would finally remove the need for home based servers and software with all knowledge being held and managed centrally which could lead to a much greater linkage of the supply chain of which cartons were an important part. He also elaborated on a comparatively new technique called Triz which was a method of systemic innovation and he said that new approaches to innovation were critical as this was the key to future developments and profitability.

Pro Carton progress
After a gap of a year, the announcement and presentations of the Pro Carton / ECMA carton awards returned to the ECMA Congress and before making the announcements of the winners, Nick Higham interviewed Roland Rex the newly appointed Chairman of Pro Carton about its activities and progress. Roland Rex said that the last 18 months following the radical changes that took place at the start of 2009, had been a period of consolidation and of getting used to the new way of working. With no national committees and a totally European approach, he felt that Pro Carton had made progress but stated that it was his intention to carry this forward at a greater pace now that the new organisation was settled. An increased budget had been agreed for 2011 and the right people were in place to move Pro Carton forward to get their messages to both the retail and brand sectors. He was confident that this approach would work and also said that there will be greater communication with national carton organisations to ensure that the good messages the carton industry have, are spread as widely as possible.

At the Carton Awards Ceremony, the winners received their awards from ECMA President Peer Lundeen and Pro Carton President Roland Rex. Full reports on all the winners can be found on www.cartonawards.com.


Food safety information required
The final sessions of the Congress covered product safety issues in the carton industry and innovation. In the food safety session firstly Dr Andreas Luch of the BfR, the federal institute for risk assessment in Germany, gave a detailed technical appraisal of the current position and the challenges facing carton and cartonboard manufacturers. Then François Chastellain, the Global Packaging Quality and Safety manager for Nestlé, gave the food manufacturers viewpoint. He argued that whether issues were real or perceived, they both needed to be treated in the same way and he felt that both cartonboard and carton manufacturers could help by giving more detailed information on their websites so it was easily available for interested parties. He said that Nestlé will probably impose the CEPI guidelines on all their suppliers and urged the industries to look at doing whatever they can to alleviate the concerns on food safely that some people had.

A structured approach on innovation
The final presentation of the Congress took the form of an interactive session hosted by Professor Ben Bensaou of INSEAD in France. He argued that we should think, not of innovation, but of innovating and that in reality this was a process that could be learned and implemented. He took delegates through range of concepts and tools that he felt sure would allow them to innovate in a more structured way and so achieve the results they were seeking. His approach looks at needs purely from the customer point of view and he argued that by following a customer focussed, structured approach they will become true innovators.

The 50th anniversary ECMA Congress in Vienna was wide ranging, interesting and informative. As well as offering new insights into a wide variety of current issues, the focus was very much on the future and the way to make improvements so that the future was better. The President of ECMA, Per Lundeen, in closing the Congress hoped that everyone had found it beneficial to their business and looked forward to seeing them again at the next Congress which, he announced, would be held in Barcelona.


ECMA congress.


Per Lundeen, President of ECMA.


Dr Wilhelm Hörmanseder, Chairman of the Management Board of Mayr Melnhof Karton AG.


Dr Wolfgang Wimmer.


Dr Stefan Gara.


François Chastellain, Global Packaging Quality and Safety manager for Nestlé.

Suzanne McEwen +43 1 218 6918 mcewen@procarton.com
Background Pro Carton is the European Association of Carton and Cartonboard manufacturers. Its main purpose is to promote the use of cartons and cartonboard to brand owners, the trade as well as designers, the media and politicians as an economically and ecologically balanced packaging medium.