This is according to Napco National, a Saudi packaging firm which FoodNavigator-Asia spoke to during the Gulfood Manufacturing show.
“We started having queries about having readily-made meals, convenient packaging, microwave packaging, things that are on-the-go, so that’s one big trend that we feel is going to start to pick up,” Chadi Radi, senior director of market development at Napco National said.
One reason, is due to the changing roles of women in the Saudi society.
“The regulations in Saudi are changing. For example, one of the biggest impacts is women driving, which is a very big change in Saudi. So basically when you go out, from morning to evening, you start to see women going out. The traditional wife who stays at home to cook for whole family now has got her own life, she is also playing a major role in the economy and is involved in the workforce…As such, convenient packaging and readily-made meals are starting to play a big part,” Radi explained.
Other than convenient packaging, he noticed that there is also “a big shift” towards focusing more on the shelf-appearance of the products.
This is a departure from the commonly seen bulk packaging requests in the past.
“Before it was more bulk packaging, now, (more and more manufacturers) are moving into individual packs, convenience packs, (focusing on) the printings and the colours of packaging. So the trend now is moving more into consumer attraction.”
The firm’s biggest buyers come from the GCC region, followed by North Africa and Europe.
Back in Saudi, liquid packaging occupies the bulk of the firm’s portfolio.
Moving forward, the firm plans develop new packaging solutions that utilise less raw materials, which is also a response to environment protection efforts at the same time.
Replacing the use of aluminium foil will be one of the priority, as the material is non-recyclable.
Some of the materials that can be used in the place of aluminium include paper, plastics, and composite films.
Recycling landfill waste
The firm is collaborating with The Saudi Recycling Company to reduce landfills by converting plastic waste into reusable products.
The Saudi Recycling Company, a waste management government enterprise, is an initiative announced last year. It targets to recycle 85% of the 50m tons of recyclable waste produced in Saudi Arabia and use them as a source of alternative energy for manufacturing.
Under the collaboration, the firm collects and recycles plastic scrap from its plants and customers in Saudi Arabia.
To recycle the plastic scrap, the firm has invested in waste collection and sorting and cleaning equipment in Jeddah and Dammam.
Other than recycling efforts, the firm is also cutting down on the amount of raw material used in packaging.
“We are trying to thin down on the packaging as much as we can, so that we can consume less for the same use,” Radi said.
“We have achieved around 40% of weight reduction in our packaging across all portfolios.”
Brand owners are also playing a crucial role in pushing for the use of sustainable packaging, he added.
“With the brand owners being committed, sustainable packaging is something we feel will be regulated in the couple of years to come."
“Especially now that the Saudi government has initiated what is called The Saudi Recycling Company, and is setting new policies for all the landfill waste in which packaging is a big component, we will start to see a lot of momentum towards reducing landfill waste. That is also something we are looking forward to play a big part in, which is through designing sustainable and reusable packaging.”