Food and drink firms demand more spark

THE UK's food and drink industry is looking for greater innovation from its packaging suppliers, according to a study of more than 100 leading UK food and drink manufacturers.

The organisers of the Easy-Fairs Process, Pack & Track Food shows say that the food and drink industries are becoming increasingly ambitious. Some 65% of processors are planning to launch new products, 45% are moving into new markets and a quarter will expand overseas sales.

So manufacturers are looking to the packaging industry to back their plans. For example, 45% want to reduce their materials usage, 40% need to speed up their packing lines, over a third want to introduce a new innovative pack format and 30% are looking to packaging to provide greater product differentiation.

More than a third of the food and drink companies questioned said they would like much greater innovation from packaging suppliers - 12% say their packaging suppliers are too complacent. Food and drink companies are planning to invest in labelling, coding, printers and smart packaging and plan to spend more on packaging machinery during the next 12 months than last year.

Haf Cennydd, show director for EasyFairs, said: "As food and drink companies grapple with the twin challenges of reducing their cost base and expanding their businesses, all aspects of supply and marketing are being scrutinised. "Suppliers who help them respond to these challenges will be rewarded with more lucrative relationships," he added.

Companies will have the opportunity to discuss Easy-Fair's research and develop relationships with food and drink manufacturers at further Easy-Fairs Process, Pack & Track Food shows. EasyFairs Process, Pack & Track Food South (24-25 May 2006) is being held at Sandown Park in Esher while Process and Pack & Track Food North (14-15 June 2006) will be at the Reebok Stadium in Bolton.

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