headline press information

Date 29th June 2009 / www.procarton.com
Title The Global Village
14. ECR Congress on "Efficient Consumer Response"
Text The global village is becoming more and more of an economic and ecological reality. It is virtually impossible to do anything without affecting many others in the process. Therefore, industry and trade intend to cooperate closer in future to improve sustainability and respond faster to customers' needs.

The 14th ECR (Efficient Consumer Response) Congress was held at the beginning of June in Barcelona. This congress which is run annually, brought together about 900 people mainly from the retail and brand owner industries and is regarded as one of the main events in their annual calendar. Virtually all of the main retailers and brand owners are represented and the attendee list provides a window on those industries.

Sharing Ideas

The format of the congress is very much based on sharing ideas and information and working toward improving the co-ordination in the supply chain and it is for this reason that Pro Carton has been involved for several years. Packaging plays a key role in the supply chain and Pro Carton is therefore able to reach many people who are interested and involved in what packaging can offer to help both retailers and brand owners in marketing their products. As a result of this Pro Carton took a larger part at the Barcelona event than it had done for several years to seek to provide information and background on the benefits that cartons and cartonboard offer.
As well as sponsoring and producing the conference box for all the delegates, Pro Carton also had displays around the conference centre that demonstrated the benefits of using cartons. They also showed the winners of the 2008 Carton awards to demonstrate the invention and innovation that is possible in carton design both structurally and graphically. Delegates showed great interest in the displays and also were able to collect some of the recent Pro Carton publications including the recently published summary of the Brain Packs report. This report looks in detail at how different types and styles of packaging appeal to different limbic types and so can help in launching and marketing new or revised products. This in depth study was released initially in German but a new English translation is now available as a download from the Pro Carton website. Stéphane Thiollier, the President of Pro Carton, said “I am pleased that we have extended our involvement at the ECR Congress as it offers an ideal forum to inform people of all that is happening in the field of cartons and cartonboard”.

Emphasis on Sustainability

Whilst the theme of the congress this year was about change and was entitled “Our World is changing and our shoppers are more demanding” there was also much emphasis on the sustainability issues that surround these industries. These issues were very much in the forefront and special sessions were held during the Congress looking at the many different aspects of sustainability. Pro Carton was invited to be a speaker at one of the break-out sessions entitled “Getting lean by going green”. During this session Pro Carton presented the outline findings of a report it has recently commissioned alongside ECMA – The European Carton Makers Association. This technical study is looking in detail at the storage of carbon in the forests and the subsequent storage of carbon during the life cycle of cartons. The presentation gave the highlights of the study’s conclusions and in closing the session, Richard Dalgleish, the Managing Director of Pro Carton said that he hoped that “this study will extend the wider knowledge and understanding of biogenic carbon and the important role of forests and lead to further discussion”. The study, which is being carried out by IVL, the Swedish Environmental Research Institute, is expected to be finalised later in the year. It will form part of the information Pro Carton provides on cartonboard packaging and sustainability and also carbon footprint.
The Congress takes the form of main plenary sessions and then break-out sessions at which various themes are highlighted in more detail. In the first plenary session entitled “Our changing world”, Will Hutton, Executive vice chair of the Work Foundation and a respected author and commentator in the economic area, said that the future looked difficult and that he was sure that economies would never return to the position they were in between 2002 and 2007. He added that with demand in Europe likely to be poor for some time, major exporters such as China would encounter great difficulties from which it would take some time for them to recover. Doug Baillie, the President of Western Europe for Unilever, then said that collaboration which had been a key part of business for many years would need to intensify and he gave concrete examples of how Unilever was working more closely with retailers to ensure that the maximum benefits were achieved for both partners.

Collaboration and Co-operation

In fact collaboration and co-operation were the key themes of the congress and were highlighted also by Nestlé and Macro who were working more closely than ever to “alter the landscape and satisfy consumer needs”. The changing needs of consumers were also highlighted both by Phillip Clarke of Tesco and by Jorge Pont of El Cortes Inglés who both said how vital is was to understand what consumers wanted and needed and then to make changes fast and effectively to meet these changing needs.
The keynote presentation was given by Lars Olofsson the CEO of Carrefour who went into detail as to how his company was adapting and changing to meet the new needs of consumers. He talked about the expectations of what he called “Multi dimensional shoppers with multi dimensionsal expectations” and went on to explain how Carrefour were changing to meet the varying expectations using such things as increasing choice, making shopping a better experience and innovating whilst at the same time ensuring that health issues and environmental responsibility were at the forefront. He again reinforced the need for co-operation throughout the supply chain to ensure that the expectations of consumers are fully met.
In the last session on Sustainability various presenters gave details of several programmes and ideas that were being implemented to reduce environmental impacts and these varied across a whole range of ideas. Also during this plenary session, Hans van der Loo, Head of European Liaison for Royal Dutch Shell, gave a detailed overview of the changes he saw coming up and how they needed to be handled. He said that in the lifetime of those present at the Congress, the world population would increase from 3 billion to over 9 billion and that we will have to find effective ways to adapt to this major change. He added that within 15 years “easy” oil and gas will struggle to keep up with the increasing demand and this will put great pressure not only on energy needs but on all oil and gas based products.

Overall the major theme that was repeated throughout the congress was one of co-operation and as the world has changed so significantly in recent times, so all the companies and industries in the supply chain need to change and adapt to meet these needs. Cartons therefore, as the most sustainable type of primary packaging available, will be at the forefront of these changes and the skills, flair and ingenuity of cartonboard and carton manufacturers will offer solutions to help retailers and brand owners get their products to market effectively whilst at the same time offering high visibility, easy recognition and product advertising on shelf where most purchasing decisions are made.

korb 2





Will Hutton


Doug Baillie


Phillip Clarke


Jorge Pont


Lars Olofsson

van der loo

Hans van der Loo

Discussions in small groups ...


... inside ...

... and outside.


Richard Dalgleish +44 777 613 8510 dalgleish@procarton.com
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.