Q&A: Hans van Schaik, ECMA
Hans van Schaik is the managing director of ECMA, an international network of folding carton organizations, from carton businesses and national carton associations, to industry suppliers.
Labels & Labeling: Can you explain who and what ECMA is, and what role it plays in the European and international folding carton market?
Hans van Schaik: ECMA provides the European folding carton industry with a dynamic business network. ECMA works to fulfill its mission for the benefit of member companies in a variety of functions. As part of the guiding ECMA Roadmap, the association is supporting the healthy development of European carton makers, raising the profile and professionalism of the European carton industry, developing advanced international standards and best practices, and helping carton makers growing their expertise and international network to enforce their position to respond to market trends and customer/end user demands.
ECMA offers several special industry platforms and expertise networks for both SME and multinational companies with a special focus on pharmaceutical packaging producers, tobacco packaging producers and food safety experts. The aim is to share experiences, to exchange information and to be able to benchmark and raise the bar within the industry. Around specific ‘hot issues’ ECMA organizes seminars and the annual highlight is the ECMA Congress organized every year in a different European city. ECMA offers ultimate business-to-business opportunities both for carton makers and for suppliers to the folding carton industry. Suppliers are actively involved within ECMA and are positioned to convey their knowledge, with big advantage the opportunity to meet directly the decision makers from converter members. In other words: in ECMA a top level industry network is in place.
L&L: What are the trends the folding carton industry is responding to?
HVS: ECMA is tackling all relevant industry issues with a European dimension. Food Safety is one of the top issues on our industry’s agenda but also after the adoption within the EU the implementation of the revised EU Tobacco Products Directive (TPD 2) as well as European level business and payment conditions and regulations, in line with the EU Directive on Late Payments. ECMA has produced industry guidelines like the very thorough ECMA Food Safety GMP and the ECMA Food Safety Compliance Seal, the ECMA Code (standardised model book) and the Braille Standard for pharmaceutical packaging.
L&L: How important are folding cartons in the future packaging market?
Cartons will be more and more relevant for the market. Clear opportunities for carton makers will arise out of changes in consumer demographics, lifestyles and spending patterns, efficiencies in the downstream value chain, sustainability and environmental issues, and more spending power in emerging European countries. Changing consumer behavior and demographics are influencing both economy packs and premium products. These developments are very good for the future of cartons, especially when the packaging aspects are combined with the superb ‘look and feel’ variations cartons can provide. Or the ability to convey messages and information. In general it must be emphasized that cartons are an important means of generating sales for the brand owner and own-label retailer. The market requirements will be strong, as will the competition, but the folding carton industry holds strong cards to enter the future in good spirits.
L&L: How do you see the market for folding cartons growing in the near- to mid-term?
HVS: Growth opportunities exist for carton makers to provide creative solutions for luxury products/premium brands, convenience foods and snacking/food-to-go applications. The carton makers most able to exploit these trends will have to demonstrate that they are cost effective at supplying shorter and shorter run lengths, as well as shorter and shorter lead times. For the coming time most of the growth is predicted to occur in Germany, central Europe, Turkey and the UK.