Cartons unbeatable in the long term

Interview to Roland Rex, President of Pro Carton

Packaging made of cartonboard will be even more successful in future than it already is today. Cartons unite communication competence, convenience and sustainability: exactly what brand owners and the retail trade need most in future.

by Barbara Merlo

For cartonboard packaging growth is the order of the day, not only in the coming years but also the distant future. Pro Carton, the European Association of Carton and Cartonboard manufacturers, is 25 this year. Roland Rex, President of Pro Carton, tells us his thoughts on the prospects for the market.

Roland Rex, President of Pro Carton, the European Association of Carton and Cartonboard manufacturers.

Mr Rex, what is your assessment in the jubilee year?

«The assessment is extremely positive. Following the European restructuring of the organization we were able to sharpen our focus on positioning the performance spectrum of cartons even more: a major issue at Pro Carton for the past 25 years and one we will continue to work on.

There can be no doubt that cartonboard and cartons are the most sustainable form of packaging today. And sustainability will remain a trump card which will become the most important factor in production in the coming years. Only recently we updated our brochure on the CO2-footprint of cartons which clearly demonstrates that industry performance is continuously improving in this area.»

In which direction would you like to steer Pro Carton in the future?

«Cooperation with the supply chain is one of my main concerns and I can see progress here. With our two competitions – both for students and packaging already available on the market – we support the development and dissemination of innovative packaging concepts for design and marketing and thus also communicate the general advantages of cartonboard packaging. Meanwhile the cartons of award winners and finalists tour across Europe every year! Our E-news provides over 9,000 interested persons in the fields of design, branded products and the retail trade with information.»

How do you view the current economic climate and how will it affect the European carton industry in your opinion?

«Cartonboard is at home in numerous segments and therefore not quite as susceptible to economic cycles: even in difficult times demand is still there. And I view the coming years positively. We have recovered from a long slump and upward trends are on the horizon. Of course, not fast enough for many people, but the positive aspect is that this upward trend appears sustainable in the future.

Cartons have the advantage of adding character to products on the shelves through numerous printing and processing options. Brand owners use the carton to actively support their products at the point of sale. Carton is also unbeatable and in terms of communication it is predestined as the optimal packaging carrier for interactive elements, the ideal link between the real and the virtual world. Nowhere else can you place QR codes – which are growing in leaps and bounds – so efficiently and clearly readable than on the surface of cartons.

There are a number of products promising growth. For example, the number of pre-packed meals is growing, and most of these are packed in cartons. This is where cartons truly demonstrate their convenience factor. But non-food areas such as wellness, health care and pharmaceuticals will also grow, and not just for elderly consumers which are also a growing target group. And last not least, cartons are the packaging of choice in the premium segment as they add prestige to a product.»

And how about the future?

«Here too, I am very confident. There are two very solid reasons, both leading to the same conclusion: cartons create a win-win situation for the branded goods industry, the retail trade and consumers.

First, no other packaging material can convey authenticity as well as cartonboard. It is 100 per cent natural and sustainable, it offers more space and optimal display of text and codes, better than any other medium. Cartonboard offers virtually unlimited visual, tactile and even olfactory design options.

Second, based on an extensive survey, we were last year able to confirm that packaging is also a significant advertising medium with multiple effects: both at the point of sale and in the home. Packaging made of cartonboard proved exceptionally effective in combination with its sustainability advantages. It meets consumers’ communication needs, invites them into the Internet via digital codes such as the QR code where they can select tailor-made offers, from practical applications to fan clubs. There are so many possibilities for real added-value benefits, or for adding flair to a product and reinforcing the message.»

Pro Carton at a glance

Pro Carton is the European Association of Carton and Cartonboard manufacturers. Bringing together two elements of the supply chain, its main purpose is to promote the use of cartons and cartonboard as widely as possible. Operating across Europe with links in other parts of the world, Pro Carton seeks to inform the whole of the packaging chain of the most up to date developments in the industries as well as offering various other events, reports and activities to help brand owners, retailers and designers understand what is happening in the field of cartons and cartonboard.

Pro Carton/ECMA Award

The annual Pro Carton/ECMA Award for outstanding carton packaging on the markets have been awarded for 16 years now and are among the most coveted awards in their category. The prize-winning concepts have provided many a springboard for further ideas, especially as sustainable packaging solutions are becoming increasingly important and are in high demand by consumers. More.

Pro Carton Design Award

The European Pro Carton Design Awards will again be made in 2013 and the awards presented in 2014. These awards relate to creative, as yet unrealized design ideas. You can find all the entries, winners and awards of the past competitions and the entry form of the new competition, here.