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Gulfood 2013 blog

Social media threat behind food packaging growth

By RJ Whitehead in Dubai , 27-Feb-2013

Sometimes the most interesting information comes from the most unlikely sources.

For example, you would expect a hardcore engineer to talk about wingnuts and sprockets, not social media. But Tim Ansell, a director of Al Thika Packaging, puts across a most interesting point of view on the growth of food packaging: social media.

Al Thika provides packaging equipment to a number of industries and regions, and has customers in Pakistan and India, countries where social media is witnessing a massive upsurge. 

The company has been on a consistent growth path since the recession bit. If you judge a firm’s success by the size of its exhibition stand, the fact Al Thika’s presence has grown from 72sq-m last year to 174sq-m this year is an indication of how well the company has done over the last 12 months.

So could new regulations, markets and customers be the reason for the phenomenal growth? To some extent, says Ansell, but more significantly as a result of the presence of social media at the top of his customers’ worry list.

These days, nobody can risk the harm sites like Facebook and Twitter can do to their brand,” he warns. “While the quality of their food is in the hands of their producers, packers also have to be very careful about their packaging.

Even if a product is completely safe, has the highest-quality ingredients and contains only what is promised on the label, it still has to be packaged right. Bad packaging can let in lots of nasty things, as well as looking bad. This is what customers see first, before they taste the contents. Companies cannot risk harming their brands by letting their packaging go.”

Now that people have a direct outlet to vent, they are more likely to do so. A quick online comment about a product packaged badly can spread to many potential consumers, and that will harm business. And if the packaging is damaged and lets in harmful substances, that could spell disaster for any brand.

As a result, Al Thika’s customers have been upgrading the quality of their packaging equipment and new ones have been looking at premium products to keep their lines safe and appealing.

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