The CIC will help Tetra Pak work with customers to develop new products, using virtual tools to combine packaging and content elements to create new products. The Dubai CIC is the first to open, with the next planned for Denver in the US – the company plans to open five of the seven total CICs by mid-2016.
Improving services portfolio
“What we’re trying to do is have a portfolio of different services, depending on the customers’ needs and wants – that is something we’ve been working very much on in the last few years. If you go back in time, what we didn’t have well-developed enough was this portfolio of services,” said Tetra Pak CEO Dennis Jonsson, speaking at Gulfood Manufacturing.
“What we’ve done is create Customer Innovation Centres, which we’re building up in different parts of the world – we have one here in Dubai that we’ve actually just inaugurated this morning. These are for the sake of customers coming in, and going through the process of idea generation,” he added.
The CICs will range in size, with some such as the Denver centre having a large range of physical equipment. For smaller centres such as the one in Dubai, Tetra Pak is using virtual equipment, according to Jonsson.
“With all the technologies, you’ll be able to see, touch and feel everything from the type of packaging, shapes, processing technologies, the closures, and so on. So we can sit down, discuss, and then build a product in a virtual way,” he said.
Smaller portions, cheaper products
Looking at the Middle East market, Jonsson said Tetra Pak is seeing a trend towards smaller products: “What we’re seeing especially here is small-portion packs are quite important to the region, for different reasons – but obviously trying to reach an area of the population at a particular price point is very important.
“Then you have the need for differentiation. You can see we’ve been working on both of these through different systems – on one side we’ve been working on the traditional Tetra Brik system, but also through the Tetra Fino system we’re quite active, in order to reach different price points,” he added.
Jonsson said the diversity of the Middle East meant many markets are still highly price-sensitive, creating a challenge for regional producers. He also noted the region’s recent instability, from conflicts to falling oil prices, represented a major challenge for Tetra Pak and its customers.
“For us, and for many, this has been a high-growth area – for the last year, because of the various geopolitical issues the markets have faced, that growth has not been as high. One of the challenges of us is, despite this, to work with our customers to ensure we continue to see growth both for them and for us,” said Jonsson.