Dubai launches hint at Middle East’s growing clout for Tetra Pak

By RJ Whitehead

- Last updated on GMT

Tetra Pak sees reasons for optimism in the Middle East.
Tetra Pak sees reasons for optimism in the Middle East.
It is no coincidence that Tetra Pak has chosen the Middle East as its launch site for a trio of new products. Doing so reflects the relative importance of this previously unsophisticated market, which the company now brands as “dynamic” and sees as having “huge potential”.

According to the company’s president and chief executive, Dennis Jönsson: “We hand-picked a number of recent innovations, which we believe should bring value to our customers and cater for the changing consumer needs in this region​.”

With a population expected to increase by almost 60% to 2.9bn by 2050, and with 38% of residents currently below the age of 14, the Greater Middle East and Africa region is of great strategic importance to Jönsson’s business.

It is for this reason that the Tetra Fino Aseptic 100 Ultra MiM packaging, High Shear Mixer and Extrusion Wheel were all chosen for launch at Gulfood last week.

The aseptic nature of the small Tetra Fino pouches allows dairy and juice drinks to be packaged at room temperature and turned into frozen products at the point of sale or consumption.

The sachets protect against light and oxygen, and can be produced on the A1 Tetra Pak filling machine platform. With a pre-applied opening using micro-injection moulding, the package can be unsealed entirely by pulling the tab once frozen. 

Such a product, which will be available globally following its Gulfood launch, is expected to be of significant appeal to customers in the Middle East, where the hot climate would normally require a frozen drinks manufacturer to employ a refrigerated logistics operation.

It’s aseptic so it can be shipped as a liquid then chilled​,” says Khaled Ismail, Tetra Pak’s vice-president for regional communications. “It’s not distributed frozen so our customers don’t need to run a cold chain​.”

Of the other products debuting in Dubai, the next-generation High Shear Mixer is billed as offering high mixing performance at lower operating costs, while the Tetra Pak Extrusion Wheel, which was given an exclusive preview, uses new technology to allow stick ice creams to contain large inclusions of up to 25mm, with a capacity of up to 200 products per minute.

Though Tetra Pak’s Greater Middle East and Africa region has, in commercial terms, performed unspectacularly over the last year amid regional economic slowdowns, namely in Egypt and Pakistan, the territory has been growing as a whole.

This growth has led Tetra Pak to place increased emphasis on its regional strategy to increase the recycling rates of used beverage cartons, and find other ways to reduce waste, Ismail says.

Ongoing journey

"The environment is a very interesting topic for us in the Middle East, as customers are polarised as to their commitment to sustainability. Sometimes they are willing to vote with their pockets; other times they are not​.

They are willing to pay a bit more for organic, for FSC [Forest Stewardship Council] certification — all of our packages are FSC certified. It’s a journey, not a destination for us, as we aren’t going to get there as fast as in Europe​," he adds.

The real driving force for companies to embrace sustainable packaging, more than anything else, is government policy, and how authorities raise consumer awareness through environmental education.

As interest grows in this regard, packaging firms like Tetra Pak can then step in by boosting the number of facilities available for consumers to practice their environmental scruples.

For example, if a child is drilled into recycling over 10 to 15 years, he will refuse to countenance anything that is not environmentally friendly, Ismail says.

Our challenge is to make sure that the infrastructure, the recyclers and those who enable it are available — in some cases they are not​.

We aren’t paying lip service, though there are many people who aren’t voting with their pockets right now. We are trying to push our customers​,” he adds

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