Turning packaging from a cost factor to a value creator requires an understanding of the integral needs of customers, a passion for products and services, and communicating the right message. That's the view of Franz Hofer, Ovotherm, Austria.

While egg shells can be described as "the perfect package", protecting the valuable content and yet being easy to open, selling and usability depends on external packaging.

Packaging's basic role can be summed up in five words: protection, preservation, information, usability, and branding. Regardless of the basic functionality of packaging, optimization is the name of the game for the egg pack producer to support customers in improving their business. "A cost can be transferred into a profit if it creates value," he said.

Hofer stressed that packaging is a value creator at several points in this chain. At the packing station, perfect de-nesting and smooth filling and closing saves time and money. With regard to transporting eggs, the quantity handled by a truck has been greatly increased, reducing the volume of unused space. In some instances this results in a savings of more than 1000kg (2204.6 pounds) of CO2 emissions/1000 kilometres (621.37 miles), compensating for the increase in fuel prices and freight costs. There are also savings involved in warehousing, fewer truckloads, less administration and less cost.

In-store value creation is evident in in-store handling and also through improved visibility and reduced breakage, Hofer said. For the producer/packer to maximise earnings, value must be added at each stage in the value chain.


Optimizing Consumer Appeal

Optimizing consumer appeal supports the marketing effort and helps build the brand. "Packaging is the number one medium, to build and transport your image. It is a strong differentiator as it conveys your positioning and message to the consumer," he added. "The perception of your products is conveyed by the brand on the packaging. Packaging is the only differentiator between different types of eggs."

Hofer said the industry needs to sell eggs in places where they had not been available before, for example, fuel filling stations. Snacks such as Mars bars were readily available at such places and yet, for the same price, he believed the industry could sell two hard-boiled eggs with a packet of salt.

A key role for a packaging company is to offer its customers the possibility to sell eggs in new markets. "It would be an added-value contribution to your businesses," he said.

He concluded by saying, "We can make eggs far more popular by offering them in places where the public does not currently expect to find them. Packaging companies should be considered as part of your business. We need to move closer together. We don't want to be seen as cost creators in your balance sheet. We want to be profit creators."