With the debut of our first Converter Spotlight, PlasticsToday extends our Molder Spotlight series to the vital flexible side of the plastics packaging business with a profile of Parkside (Normanton, UK).
Why Parkside? We’ve been monitoring the company’s continuing and prolific amount of impressive innovations for a number of months and felt that an inside look was overdue. We also felt that it would be interesting and beneficial to gain the perspective of an overseas company that has recently established a footprint in North America. In short, we are pleased that Parkside ardently accepted our invitation to be profiled, through the insights of Nick Smith, managing director.
Please describe Parkside in 2-3 sentences.
Smith: Parkside is a leading innovation focused specialty packaging manufacturer specializing in HD flexo printing, lamination, laser, thermal and sustainable solutions for the food and drink, medical, pharmaceutical, personal care, household and tobacco packaging industries.
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What makes Parkside unique?
Smith: Parkside’s in-depth knowledge and insight into market trends and the needs of brands, combined with innovation expertise, sets the company apart from others. Our APEX innovations team collaborates closely with leading brands and food manufacturers from concept to market to ensure our solutions address every requirement in terms of functionality, shelf-standout, sustainability and performance.
The company’s expertise is backed by market leading operations, supply chain and customer service teams.
What are your key product and geographic markets?
Smith: Key markets for Parkside are food and drink, medical, pharmaceutical, household and personal care markets, as well as the tobacco sector.
Parkside is a global supplier with manufacturing sites in both the UK and Asia, with its headquarters in West Yorkshire, UK.
The company is continuing to expand its geographical reach with new orders received from both its Australian and American agents. Australian-based PA Packaging Solutions and The Platinum Packaging Group (Paramount, CA), in the U.S., are taking Parkscribe, a unique laser technology used to create reclosable packs (shown), and Park-2-Nature, a range of compostable products, into new international markets.
Tell us more about the food and drink packaging market.
Smith: In recent times, convenience has played an important role in shaping consumption trends that in turn affect the nature of packaging demanded by brands, retailers and food manufacturers.
Ready meals, savory snacks and prepared chilled foods have proved popular in recent years. Increasingly demanding, yet time-poor, consumers are looking for clever, efficient, easy-to-use packaging that engages them quickly but doesn’t eat into their time. This is changing the dynamics of packaging; solutions have to be more innovative and unique than ever before whilst functionality remains absolutely crucial. Packaging manufacturers are developing solutions that are pioneering without being complex, functional yet novel.
Packaging is evolving due to changes in demographics, lifestyles and eating patterns. As a result, consumers now expect packaging to be much more responsive to their personal and social needs, complementing their lifestyle.
What are your best growth opportunities?
Smith: Convenience and ease of use are both big factors in contemporary packaging design and new product development. Anything that makes life easier for the consumer, whether that’s easy-open, ease of portability or portioned food packs, added pack functionality is key to satisfying the modern on-the-go consumer.
Meeting the need of the convenience shopper can mean multiple things when it comes to designing suitable packaging. If we consider the food-to-go category, pack portability, single-serve and effective dispensing become key.
Parkside has developed a number of single portion, easy-open and reclosable packaging solutions in recent months.
A great example is an innovative snack pack we developed for the Walls sausage rolls range for Pork Farms, part of Addo Foods Group. The multi-cavity pack design taps into the on-the-go snacking market, offering the option to snap off one of five individually wrapped trays as required, while keeping the remaining sausage rolls sealed for later.
This innovative pack, described as “perfect for lunch boxes,” gives the modern consumer the ability to snack as well as exercise portion control. The tray also keeps the contents fresher for longer and can help to reduce food waste.
Your biggest pain point is…
Smith: The value of packaging is largely lost on consumers mainly because they do not understand its full purpose in protecting, preserving and presenting products in a cost effective manner. They often only consider it in terms of the product being transported between supermarket shelf and the home—forgetting its supply chain journey prior to that—and see it as purely a waste item. By the time most consumers come into contact with a pack, its job, in many cases, is almost over.
Over the last few years, the challenge for the industry has been to design packaging that maintains excellent performance and functionality but also demonstrates environmental credentials. Despite large steps forward in packaging design, packaging is still vilified to a great extent by consumers who believe it’s superfluous, a waste of resources and an environmental menace.
What we must remember is that while sustainability is vitally important, packaging is not sold to consumers—products are. Many products would simply not make it into our homes without modern packaging design. Furthermore, without it, product waste levels would be significantly higher across the supply chain.
Greater education and more positive news stories are key to changing the misconceptions around packaging.
What’s a "wild card factor" in the market?
Smith: In terms of the UK, clearly the impact of Brexit is still not fully understood. We are seeing the impact of exchange rate volatility manifesting in product inflation, with numerous impacts in the raw materials market being felt in Q1 and Q2 this year, but whether this impacts packaging demand over the next few years remains to be seen.
What’s your latest production investment?
Smith: With consistent growth in 2016 and a very busy start to 2017, Parkside is paving the way for continued packaging innovation. We are going from strength to strength, and the collaborations with Perfect Automation and Platinum Packaging (Paramount, CA) are the latest in the ongoing re-shaping of our business as a global specialty fast-moving-consumer goods (FMCG) packaging provider. Both these partners are offering potential for high volume opportunities.
The diversity of our products is a real strength for Parkside and we are extending our reach to provide these innovative and market leading services on a global scale. It’s exciting times at Parkside.
To support this activity, Parkside has recruited twenty-five people in the last 12 months. In addition, we have invested in the ESKO Webcenter platform used to drive task automation and status updates from initial sales enquiry through to print execution. In conjunction, we have also invested in new screening technology to deliver the highest quality HD flexo print on the market.
We are planning further investment in developing our innovation facility along with enhancing the output from our prototyping laboratory. To support our near-term growth plans, we are constantly reviewing our plant capacity and equipment investments will be made when required.
Smith: Sustainability remains a hot topic of conversation within the packaging world. Consumers are demanding more planet-friendly processes and retailers are responding by asking their supply chains to come up with more innovative ways to save carbon and avoid end-of-life incineration and landfill.
Compostable solutions sit at the heart of this conversation because it offers a great alternative to traditional packaging methods.
Parkside is proud to be a pioneer of compostable packaging (such as for Rhythm 108 brand tea biscuits, above). We’re the first flexible packaging company in the UK to produce a range of barrier laminates suitable for home composting.
Our compostable range is proving extremely popular as brands and retailers look to source environmentally sound packaging solutions that remain aesthetically pleasing and provide great shelf appeal. We have had lots of interest in the range from potential customers in both the baby food, confectionery and coffee sectors.
Smith: We are excited about the opportunities we see in the UK and international packaging markets. We’ve worked hard as an organization to move our focus from the traditional tobacco packaging industry, which is clearly on the decline in Europe, into a leading, innovation focused, FMCG packaging solutions provider and our results show the benefits of that strategy now working. We’re excited about what the rest of 2017 and 2018 will bring and are confident we have a broad balance of business, both from a market sector and geography perspective, to continue our growth trajectory.
Read more interviews in our Molder Spotlight series: