headline press information

Date 28th April 2011 / www.procarton.com

New era in the consumer goods industry


The ECR Congress (Efficient Consumer Response) in early April 2011 in Brussels heralded fundamental changes in the markets: resources are becoming scarcer, consumers will be making higher demands, and communications will become more complex. Pro Carton attended for the third time as partner with their own stand and provided the over 700 attendants with the official congress case – a special design made of cartonboard, of course.

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In spite of all the changes, ECR’s mission statement – “Working together to fulfil consumer wishes better, faster and at less cost” – remained as relevant and necessary as ever, said ECR Europe’s Co-chairmen, Ignacio Gonzalez (Carrefour) and Gianni Ciserani (Procter & Gamble).

The attendance of more than 700 delegates from 38 countries suggested there were plenty in the industry who agreed with them. Under the theme “Meeting the future together”, the two-day conference focused on the challenges facing the industry, the need for collaboration, and global opportunities ahead.

As the conference moderator, Alex Thomson, a TV journalist just back from reporting in Tunisia, Libya and Japan, asked when he got the conference under way: “When the going gets tough, is it more difficult to collaborate, or easier?”

In her opening presentation Joanne Denney-Finch (IGD – Institute of Grocery Distribution) referred to the digital revolution. “Online shopping is eating away at physical stores but the biggest game-changer is probably the smart-phone,” she said. “Over half of European consumers will have internet-enabled phones by the end of this year.”

She offered this action plan:

  • Get even closer to consumers and shoppers. “They recognise the global challenges. They expect more from companies; they’re changing the ground-rules”
  • Operate with the greatest possible transparency. “Already 42 per cent of British shoppers say they would like to restrict their food to products that are fully traceable. They want to know about our ingredients, production methods and ethical standards”
  • Keep improving resource efficiency, producing more with less, and wage war on waste. “Half of the world’s food never gets consumed. In the UK two-thirds of that waste is in the home and one-third in the supply chain”

In its recent press releases Pro Carton has already suggested a number of answers: cartons are one of the best media for transporting information to the consumer and for promoting dialogue. And its resource efficiency is unsurpassed.


Dynamic challenges
Muhtar Kent, Chairman and CEO of Coca-Cola, told delegates: “We face dynamic challenges that will make the past 10 years seem downright tranquil.” Kent, together with Lars Olofsson, CEO of retailing giant Carrefour, is co-chair of the Consumer Goods Forum CGF. Formed less than two years ago out of several trade body mergers, the CGF represents more than 650 retailers, manufacturers and service providers across 70 countries with combined sales put at €2.1 trillion. As its co-chairmen are the heads of two of the biggest businesses in the industry, they are also the ideal people to provide an assessment of where the consumer goods industry is going and what it needs to do.

Summarising the conference, Kent and Olofsson set out five key shifts in the business landscape. These, said Kent, were:

  • One billion people will enter the middle class in the next decade – ‘the greatest economic shift in history and much of it will come from the developing countries”
  • The world’s population is growing older
  • There will be a massive urban shift
  • Energy resources will grow scarcer – “we are moving from cyclical to constant”
  • Consumer “reset” – “today’s consumers are dictating what they want and where and when they want it. They expect to engage in a dialogue with brands, not a monologue”

Pro Carton adds: like no other packaging material, cartons are suitable for new communication avenues to consumers – via strong impulses in facing as well as via printed QR codes.


Continuous learning
The goal was to create a culture based around collaboration and learning. No single company had the answer to everything. If they were to embrace the changes ahead, companies had to learn to work together. And they had to build a closer relationship with consumers, summarised Olofsson.

Transforming consumer hearts and minds would need the industry’s collective will, collaboration and continuous learning, Kent suggested. “There’s an exciting decade ahead. We’re looking forward to it.”

At Pro Carton we are convinced: based on these rapid changes, packaging will gain in importance. Cartonboard and cartons offer ideal features for managing this change: they are the most sustainable of all packaging materials and are perfectly suited for connecting to the new digital worlds.

Source: ECR Europe Conference Report


Pro Carton at Interpack, 12.- 18. May 2011, Please visit us in hall 7a Stand 7aB31. www.interpack.com

Muhtar Kent, CEO Coca-Cola

Muhtar Kent, CEO Coca-Cola.

Lars Olofsson, CEO Carrefour

Lars Olofsson, CEO Carrefour.

Suzanne E. McEwen, Pro Carton, Horst Bittermann, Mayr-Melnhof Karton, Jan Cardon, ECMA

Suzanne E. McEwen, Pro Carton, Horst Bittermann, Mayr-Melnhof Karton, Jan Cardon, ECMA.

Pro Carton box

Pro Carton provided the over 700 attendants with the official congress case – a special design made of cartonboard, of course.


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.