Optimum design for consumers
High performance is also about much more than numbers. In the value chain it starts with the converter, where runnability is the key performance factor. The same goes for filling lines. The story then continues with deliveries to retailers and consumers. Here Nestlé takes a pragmatic approach by eliminating all costs that consumers are not prepared to pay for.
“For this reason, we need fit-for-purpose specifications,” says Luh. “The performance of the board needs to be good, product safety must be guaranteed, and the recyclability of the packaging is also important and should be convenient for the consumer. According to our Responsible Sourcing Guidelines, the traceability of the board raw materials must be ensured, and the fibre supply chain transparent.”
Looking at food packaging on a global scale, it’s safe to say that safe packaging can improve environmental performance. “Better packaging doesn’t always mean higher environmental impact, as it protects the products and prevents food from being wasted,” explains Luh.
In some markets Nestlé have actively reduced the amounts of empty space in their packaging – again leading to positive effects on resource use. “But when the packaging is smaller, consumers may think that there is less product in the carton. This has increased the need for efficient packaging communication. We need to work on new packaging technologies and engage with consumers in order to find the optimum design,” adds Luh.
Safe and sustainable
Digging deeper into sustainability issues, Alison Coudene explains that Nestlé have no worries when it comes to Metsä Board’s know-how. She recently visited Finland with 18 of her colleagues to see exactly where Metsä Board’s wood raw materials come from.
“The things we saw during our trip were what we had wanted to see. The forests were natural, the fauna was rich, and trees are left at felling sites to seed. We also planted our own trees, which was a wonderful way to demonstrate how for every tree that is harvested you really plant four new ones for the coming generations. It’s clear that you have sustainability in your DNA.”
Traceability is also important with regard to safety issues – which are an important topic for Nestlé, as Martin Luh emphasised. Three product safety experts were among the Nestlé delegation who visited Finland, including the company’s global head of product quality and safety, Stephen Klump
. "It's clear that you have sustainability in your DNA."
“If there is a product safety issue, we require every supplier to trace back all their raw materials to find where the problem originated,” explains Klump. “For example, mineral oils in food: where have they come from? From the plastic bag or wrapping, from the food itself, from the primary packaging material, or from the secondary packaging material used in transport? It’s key to understand all possible sources.”
Klump emphasises that his job is to minimise the risk of potential issues. “In fibre-based packaging, fresh fibre boards are not a problem, but offset printing inks are – and that poses a risk.”
New legislation for mineral oil migration is still under preparation, and all parties need to work together to find fit-for-purpose solutions. “To learn more about food safety related to cartonboards, we are doing research together with Metsä Board’s experts,” says Klump.
Martin Luh explains that close cooperation between Nestlé and Metsä Board is natural, since Nestlé’s core competence is in foods, while Metsä Board’s is in board-making. “The reason we do business with Metsä Board is quite simple: we have trust, confidence and good relationships. The reasons are not only the high-performing boards, but – more importantly – the people. Metsä Board is just the best overall fit for us.”The happy campers of Nestlé and Metsä Board in the forests of Lohja, Finland.