News & Updates

How the Shoprite Group is curbing its plastic packaging waste

The Shoprite Group is now using the 4,000 tonnes of plastic returned annually to its distribution centres to produce its 100% recycled and recyclable plastic shopping bags. This is in line with its goal to ensure that all of its plastic packaging is reusable and/or recyclable by 2025.

Since the beginning of November 2019, plastic from the retail group’s Centurion, Canelands and Cilmor distribution centres is being collected, converted into pellets and used to manufacture the plastic carrier bags for its supermarkets.

The Group plans for 100% of its plastic packaging to be reusable and/or recyclable by 2025, with an average of 30% recycled content to be used in all plastic packaging. Suppliers are already being provided with reusable, returnable packing crates to minimise packaging.

In 2013 the Group became the first South African retailer to produce a verified, 100% recycled shopping bag. Shoprite, Checkers and Usave supermarkets introduced the “planet” bag in late 2018. Made from 100% recycled plastic, the sturdy reusable bags entitle customers to claim 50c off their total spend each time they present the bag at the till.

New standardised recycling instructions, as published by WWF-SA earlier this year, have been introduced to the 650 million recyclable plastic bags made from 100% post-consumer recycled material that the Group sells per annum. These On Pack Recycling Labels will be included on all new products and as packaging designs of existing products are updated, to equip customers with the correct recycling information.

News & Updates

Role of packaging in exports

Trade Focus
Allan Majuru

Let us say you get into a supermarket and you want to try something new, such as imported high-end rice, cereals or chocolate, and on an aisle of such imported products you come across four different brands and all have the same price.

Faced with an interesting task of selecting a product to try from several available options, packaging is usually the first component of a product that attracts attention.

According to Steve Jobs, the celebrated inventor and founder of Apple Inc, packaging can be a theatre where stories are created.

Packaging undoubtedly tells a story, and manufacturers across the globe are investing a lot in developing packages that enforce a preferred narrative.

Local manufactures have not been left behind. They, too, are developing designs that compete on the global export market and strengthen the narrative that Zimbabwe is home to some of the best quality products.

Nowadays, packaging has evolved into a product on its own.

What was once a protective cover has grown into a privileged interface for communication between producers and consumers.

Packaging captures the attention of consumers, reassures them of the quality, makes itself useful and its visual elements appeal to consumers, thus helping them in the decision-making process.

Previously, packaging was largely defined as a shield to protect or enclose a product and preserve its form.

With increased competition and changing global consumption patterns, the definition of packaging has advanced.

Often called “the last salesman”, packaging has the potency to influence consumer behaviour, especially when they are faced with many options but are supposed to make a purchase decision.

Due to globalisation, competition has become so tough and it is becoming increasingly difficult for products to stand out.

However, the more commonplace the product, the more your packaging must stand out and be disruptive.

Smart packaging

One way to differentiate yourself and disrupt the market is to have smart packaging solutions that offer even more value to the consumer.

For instance, some packaging now has diagnostic or indicator functions: you can easily tell the temperature of a pint of beer or a box of pizza.

Because of these integrated functions, consumers and retailers can verify the integrity of the product before opening it or taking it off the shelf.

Intelligent packaging also fulfils information and marketing roles and improves interactivity between manufacturer and consumer.

Such packaging may have barcodes or scanners, and with the aid of a smartphones, consumers can get more information about the product and even trace the source of ingredients in that product.

Experts agree that as consumers get more discerning, their demand for more information will continue to rise.

Smart packaging offers new business opportunities because of its ability to disrupt and fit into the broader area of the Fourth industrial revolution.

Greener packaging

The world is going green and consumers are becoming more concerned about their carbon footprint.

The packaging sector is at the centre of the revolution as consumers now prefer to use solutions that have less impact on energy consumption and pollution of the environment.

Many manufactures are harnessing the debate over environmental issues and are integrating them as part of their value proposition.

Therefore, packaging that can easily compete on the export markets — particularly in developed countries — should be recyclable, re-usable and bio-degradable, among other things.

To show the extent of innovation in this area, some have started to use edible packaging to reduce plastic waste.

A Thai retailer has grabbed global headlines by ditching plastics and using banana leaves as packaging for fresh produce.

These are some of the disruptive ideas that local companies can consider as they come up with solutions that set their products from the rest.

Packaging for e-Commerce

Another interesting trend shaping the packaging sector is the growth in e-commerce, where the internet has increased reach of products and improved communication between the seller and buyer.

Unlike previously, where manufacturers could only reach markets through distributors, nowadays e-commerce has made it easier to sell in markets where there are no distributors.

Businesses that have developed their model around e-commerce have to ensure that their packaging is strong and secure.

This is because the responsibility for export packaging lies with the exporter, who must ensure that their products reach the intended recipient in the same form they were packaged.

In most cases, securing products for e-commerce requires the use of corrugated boxes, protective materials, labels and tapes, among others.

However, more companies are developing unique boxes that make a bold statement at first site.

These include engraved boxes, perfumed packages and customised boxes that create better impressions than ordinary packaging.

Packaging for convenience

When designing packaging, manufactures should also consider convenience.

Most consumers have indicated willingness to pay a little extra for a product that is easy to use.

Some of the features used to add convenience include easy-to-open strips or perforations, handles for easier carrying, resealable closures, among others.

Packaging should be easy to store in a refrigerator or easy to stack on the shop shelf.

One may also consider how easy it is from a logistics perspective; for example, the stacking ability and the use of space.

Packaging Aesthetics

The aesthetic appeal of packaging can never be over-emphasised.

Digital printing has revolutionised the world of packaging graphics, making it cheaper and easier than ever to add high-quality logos and images to products.

Consumers also value viewing a product, and not just its container.

This has shaped packaging design as manufactures are now using transparent or partially transparent materials to allow consumers to have a sneak preview of the product mid-aisle and allow them to access the product.

Packaging Regulations

Exporters should be familiar with regulations affecting packaging in their intended markets.

Of all the products, the laws governing foodstuffs are often less understood.

Most of the regulations cover aspects such as prohibition of contamination from the packaging, sanitary integrity and preservation of taste and colour, among others.

This may also include regulations on labelling and languages.

For instance, some countries like Mozambique prefer Portuguese on labelling of particular products.

Going Forward

After everything has been said and done, exporters should know that the first sign of real value of a product/brand is on the packaging.

The user will initially see the value before they engage other senses to touch, feel, smell and taste it.

Therefore, producers must ensure that their packaging is of good quality, depicts adequate information and is visually satisfying.

ZimTrade, the national trade development and promotion organisation, through its export packaging training programme, can capacitate current and potential exporters in developing their competitiveness through improved packaging.

The Marketing and Branding for International Competitiveness Training offered by ZimTrade also covers export packaging, packaging design, transport and distribution packaging, and labelling.

Allan Majuru is the chief executive officer of ZimTrade.

News & Updates

Economists call for improvement in Zimbabwe import substitution

STATISTICS from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe’s foreign currency auction system has revealed the need for the country to urgently improve its import substitution mechanisms for enhanced economic growth.

From the last foreign currency auction, nearly five hundred thousand (500 000) United States dollars was channelled towards paper and packaging which used to be produced in abundance by local entities.

It is against this background coupled with the closure of the South African border that economists have called for an urgent need for local manufacturers to up their game to sustain and create a balance between Zimbabwe’s import requirements and foreign currency generation capacity.

Economist, Mr Persistence Gwanyanya believes it is high time authorities expedite the local content strategy.

“Statistics from the RBZ forex allocation template reveals that Zimbabwe needs to introspect on some items taking a large chunk of forex and instead it should be producing them locally and save the much-needed forex for items that cannot be produced locally,” he said.

The sentiments were also echoed by another economist, Mr Titus Mukove who said the closure of the South African border recently should invoke Zimbabwean manufacturers to strategically position themselves to sustainably satisfy the local market.

“The agenda of import substitution is critical for the country in many aspects which bring immense benefits to the economy, as such spending large amounts of forex on consumables such as paper and packaging is highly unsustainable,” said Mukove.

For Zimbabwe to be spending the limited foreign currency on consumables like paper and packaging, it is highly unsustainable especially when one considers that top foreign currency earners for the country are finite mineral resources. – ZBC

News & Updates

Zim: Delta Beverages refreshes bottles

Delta Beverages, a division of SABMiller’s Zimbabwean unit, Delta Corporation, is expected to roll out “rejuvenated” bottles and new labels for its brands, a circular to the company’s stakeholders revealed.

Larger beer will come with new “calabash” bottles in line with developments surrounding SABMiller operations in other countries. Brands that will be affected include Castle, Lion, Pilsner, Zambezi, Zambezi Light and Bohlingers.

But an official said on Wednesday, 14 April 2010, that the Pilsner brand would be the first to get new packaging.

“It’s going to be in May and currently the bottles are undergoing some testing processes,” she said.

Delta Beverages commissioned state-of-the-art packaging lines at its breweries last year following a US$16 million cash injection from SABMiller.

The circular said sparkling beverage bottles from the Coca-Cola brand would also be affected. There were plans to replace the existing bottle float with ‘light-weight’ glass.

Delta, which had lost its marketshare to imports during the decade-long crisis that ended with dollarisation last year, claims it has regained its marketshare, currently topping 90%.