At the IDF World Dairy Summit in Yokohama, FoodBev Media's Claire Phoenix interviews Tetra Pak president and CEO, Dennis Jönsson.
How do you see the global dairy industry today?
Dennis Jönsson: The global dairy industry is facing an era of unprecedented change: with rising demand, a shifting geographic balance, changing consumer expectations and an ever-sharpening focus on food safety, food security and environmental impact.
Today, more than ever, dairy companies need to embrace new thinking, new solutions and new approaches in order to respond to these challenges.
What is Tetra Pak's position in the dairy industry?
Dennis Jönsson: We have been involved in the sector for more than 60 years and currently have activities in 170-plus countries worldwide. We are the industry's leading supplier of processing and packaging solutions.
Our involvement extends right the way along the value chain, from our work with small farming communities to develop dairy hubs in countries like Pakistan, to our activities with major brand owners to create packaging and processing solutions that address their very specific needs.
How do you see today's target consumer, and what are they looking for?
Dennis Jönsson: It really depends where you are in the world. In emerging markets, the primary focus of many consumers is to provide their families with safe and healthy food, and at a very affordable price. At the same time, of course, we are seeing a significant increase in the urban population and a rising middle class; consumers who want distinctive, convenient and diversified new products.
In 'mature' markets such as North America and Western Europe, ageing populations and smaller families are seeking more value-added products, individualised to suit their increasingly diverse health and lifestyle needs. And all the while, consumers in many parts of the world are taking more and more interest in the environmental implications of their purchasing decisions, particularly in the developing world.
And how is Tetra Pak meeting that need?
Dennis Jönsson: Broadly, of course, we meet those needs by offering our customers the industry's most comprehensive range of products and services to support their specific processing and packaging needs.
Our packaging portfolio, in particular, includes an array of shapes, sizes, openings and closures to suit different consumption styles, from individual, drink-from-the-pack, on-the-go convenience to family-size packs with easy-flow openings.
When it comes to the low-income sector, we have established a group specifically focused on this sector, looking for ways to support our customers in providing this huge section of society with products they need, in the places they need them, at a price they can afford.
And on the environmental front, we remain sharply focused on developing and delivering environmentally sustainable food processing and packaging solutions to our customers, and working in ways that minimise our own impact on the planet.
Respecting the environment has been a hallmark of the company since it was founded. 60 years on, it is regarded as a fundamental component of our strategy.
Of which innovation over the past year are you most proud?
Dennis Jönsson: We focus a considerable amount of effort and resource on our R&D activities, so singling one innovation for special mention is extremely difficult.
During the past year, we've made great progress towards launching our hyperspeed filling machines, capable of producing 40,000 packs per hour. That's 11 every second. We started trials in Brazil with cartons made using bio-based polyethylene film, building on the success of the bio-based plastic caps and closures we introduced the year before. We launched Tetra Alcross, a processing technology that helps dairy producers maximise the value of whey, the often-discarded by-product of the cheesemaking process. I could go on ...
Indeed, every year we add more products and services to our portfolio, and I guess that is what makes me most proud: being able to offer our customers the very best packaging and processing solutions that will help to support their own growth ambitions.
What are you hoping will be achieved at this year's World Dairy Summit?
Dennis Jönsson: I would like to see progress made in three key areas:
- An acceptance of our collective responsibility to do more to address the rising issue of food security.
- A wider recognition of the importance of focusing beyond tomorrow, particularly in relation to environment and social responsibility.
- Consensus on the need to invest in an understanding of consumers.
Where do you see the dairy industry in 10 years' time?
Dennis Jönsson: The world is set for a decade-long boom in milk consumption, with demand for Liquid Dairy Products (LDP) set to surge by around 30% from 2010 to 2020, driven by economic growth, urbanisation and the rising purchasing power of Asia's middle class.
Better educated and better informed, these new middle-class consumers are expected to take ever more interest in issues related to food safety, healthy living and the environment. In addition, they are likely to be more brand-conscious and interested in products that meet the needs of their busy, urban, on-the-go lifestyles.
I am convinced that our industry has the creativity, dedication and vision to seize the opportunities offered by phenomenal growth, creating the new strategic partnerships, business models and innovative technological solutions that will ensure we all succeed.
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