Circular Food & Pack Industrial Forum: a meeting point to highlight the value of packaging in the food sector

Submitted by Aleix Iglesias Mora on 27 April 2022


On 5th of April, and as part of a new edition of the Alimentaria Barcelona Fair, the Circular Food & Pack Industrial Forum took place, a conference organized by the Packaging Cluster, the Foodservice Cluster and the Food + I Cluster. The aim was to highlight the strategic nature of packaging within a dynamic and constantly changing sector such as food.

The conference began with the welcome speech of Juan Manuel Viejo (Cluster Manager of Food + i), Martina Font (president of the Packaging Cluster) and Raimon Bagó (president of the Cluster Foodservice), who all agreed in pointing out the challenge of facing a changing context marked, above all, by the Covid-19 pandemic. Ever since, new consumer habits emerge, an increasingly aware and informed consumer and the global demand for greater environmental sustainability. All this - as the speakers pointed out - with a backdrop: the legislative changes that will transform the food and packaging sectors.
Against this background, the three clusters encouraged companies to continue working on the development of more sustainable packaging through the circular economy and innovation.
Packaging innovation, a key pillar for the Foodservice channel
After the introduction, Sofía Garín, Project Manager at inèdit, presented the Circular Pack report, a document prepared jointly with the Foodservice Cluster, the Packaging Cluster, the Waste Agency of Catalonia and the technical execution of inèdit. During the process, more than 30 value chain agents have been involved through surveys, interviews and collaborative workshops.
The report presents various key points for understanding the need to make changes in the current food packaging. The aim is to provide tools and knowledge to drive change at all levels of the value chain, in order to achieve cross-cutting improvements.

The document includes useful information regarding strategic decisions on packaging sustainability. For example, a glossary with specific definitions and terms, the status quo of the packaging sector (barriers and opportunities), a detailed explanation of new legislation (including infographics), a decalogue of best practices and key tools such as a decision matrix . "This is a guide to actions, best practices and examples for future companies to follow," said Sofia Garín.

Once the report was presented, a first round table was started - moderated by Beatriz Romanos, FoodTech consultant - where different companies from the foodservice channel presented their innovation strategies in packaging. Victor Enciso (Glovo's environmental manager), Oriol Segarra (Founder of Bûmerang), Cristina Alonso (head of circular economy and packaging at Áreas) and Amaya Prat (director of R & D & Sustainability of the Ametller Origen Group).

During the presentation, the four speakers agreed on the need for collaboration between the different actors in the value chain to achieve a real transition to sustainability.

Sustainability strategies in big brands through packaging

Jorge Barriobero, Project Manager of Ctic Cita, then presented the European MANDALA project: an initiative to provide a sustainable future for multilayer packaging. The solution is focused on three fundamental pillars: ecodesign, dual functionality and end of life. "The challenge is to recycle the multimaterial packaging and work is being done to find the most sustainable solution" stressed Jorge Barriobero.

The project planned schedule is 42 months ahead and has a budget of more than 4 million euros. In addition, the project consortium consists of 12 entities from 5 different countries: Spain, Norway, Croatia, Greece and Italy, among which are 4 technology centers, 2 large companies, 5 SMEs and 1 Agri-Food Cluster.

Following the presentation of the project, a second round table took place where leading brands in the retail sector detailed their sustainability strategies through packaging. Anna Sol (head of quality and food safety at Grupo Argal), Cristina Pérez (Project Manager Sustainability of MAHOU San Miguel) María de Dios (Head of R&D and Packaging, Packaging processes and approvals of MAHOU San Miguel) and María Bescós (director of sustainability of Coca-Cola Europacific Partners Iberia).

The four participants concluded by pointing out the demands of the increasingly informed and aware user when buying. At this point, they noted the circularity and innovation in materials as the points that will mark the present and future of the mass consumption industry.

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