Packaging is a vector of cultural change

Bad moon rising, but investments are in place


As several substantial packaging converters have said both privately and to the trade press, there’s a bad moon rising, and there’s trouble up ahead. Apart from the training and engagement of personnel, team building has become key. From merely rethinking its entire business and production paradigm and the immediate looking after of employees and the startup of production, the industry should gear up to play its part in the revival of the economy.

The packaging industry is in an ideal place to change the culture. Packaging itself is a vector of cultural change. It extends and democratizes product life and the safety of citizens – it makes life better and more enjoyable – right from the scientific listing of ingredients, unboxing a product, or to get new recipes on the internet by shooting the QR code on the package. Added to this is the curiosity of how to reuse the pack or to safely get rid of it – so that it is recycled and doesn’t end up in a landfill. The packaging is the ultimate luxury that is always becoming better, cheaper, and faster.

Fortunately, investments are in place, and although there may be some dislocation, there is nothing better than to start up a new packaging line when there is a disruption in the supply chain. It’s time to ramp up a new line that embodies innovation and high technology when the workforce is at a premium. Starting up a line in the coming two quarters may stress finances, but this is where the creativity of proper management comes in. The innovation and automation that you have invested in will bring overall efficiencies and dividends at a time when employees are no longer mere employees. In essence, they are volunteers with whom you will have to share ownership.

Please forget about the first moment of truth – it may be true, but it’s boring

When you cut the salaries of your management staff to pay for and better look after your operational workforce, that’s only stage one. You are active. In stage two, you will have to proactively build a future paradigm where the families, housing, and education of your workforce are part of your fixed costs – since most state governments have abdicated or limited their role in these basics. You are looking at a future, not unlike the past, when the Tata’s built townships for their steelworkers.

Converters have to move from the active to the pro-active stage in giving back to the society to ensure full production. We are no longer engaged with employees but with volunteers who take ownership and work with us. Converters have been given tax breaks in new industrial zones, but where are the housing zones that should have been built along with these? Of course, organized converters that have good governance deserve tax breaks, but the question is, how many converters are organized and have good governance? These are the converters that are in a position to give real ownership to their volunteer employees by being listed on the stock exchange and vesting shares.

DAII&SP conference 18 and 19 March 2021 – New Delhi

It’s time for the packaging industry to look at its role in the recreation of the society and the supply chain. The industry touches every area of consumption, including the informed and safe sectors of pharma and food and personal hygiene. The Design for Active, Intelligent, Innovation and Sustainable Packaging Conference in New Delhi, next March, is positioned well on the calendar. Organized by the leading knowledge and research organization of the industry, it will take place between Interpack and drupa 2021 in Dusseldorf.

The DAII&SP Conference is near us geographically and in the middle of the booming region of consumption, manufacturing of goods, and packaging. It will attract 500 participants with content concerning both flexible packaging and monocartons and other packaging formats. The themes of active and intelligent packaging and sustainability work well together. Nothing can be changed or innovated without the new lenses of design.

The consumer product companies and their packaging converters have the opportunity of recreating the entire society and the chance to deliver protein, sustenance, health, and well-being in the hands of every citizen and resident – hygienically and safely at a reasonable cost. Does this require technology and automation or communication?

Can these be combined so that every package delivers information and knowledge as well as a quality product? Mark your calendar and watch this space for the great conference event of 2021 right here in the heart of South Asia. Participants, speakers, sponsors, and thinkers have a look at for more information.

2023 promises an interesting ride for print in India

Indian Printer and Publisher founded in 1979 is the oldest B2B trade publication in the multi-platform and multi-channel IPPGroup. While the print and packaging industries have been resilient in the past 33 months since the pandemic lockdown of 25 March 2020, the commercial printing and newspaper industries have yet to recover their pre-Covid trajectory.

The fragmented commercial printing industry faces substantial challenges as does the newspaper industry. While digital short-run printing and the signage industry seem to be recovering a bit faster, ultimately their growth will also be moderated by the progress of the overall economy. On the other hand book printing exports are doing well but they too face several supply-chain and logistics challenges.

The price of publication papers including newsprint has been high in the past year while availability is diminished by several mills shutting down their publication paper and newsprint machines in the past four years. Indian paper mills are also exporting many types of paper and have raised prices for Indian printers. To some extent, this has helped in the recovery of the digital printing industry with its on-demand short-run and low-wastage paradigm.

Ultimately digital print and other digital channels will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future. For instance, there is no alternative to a rise in textbook consumption but this segment will only reach normality in the next financial year beginning on 1 April 2023.

Thus while the new normal is a moving target and many commercial printers look to diversification, we believe that our target audiences may shift and change. Like them, we will also have to adapt with agility to keep up with their business and technical information needs.

Our 2023 media kit is ready, and it is the right time to take stock and reconnect with your potential markets and customers. Print is the glue for the growth of liberal education, new industry, and an emerging economy. We seek your participation in what promises to be an interesting ride.

– Naresh Khanna

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Editor of Indian Printer and Publisher since 1979 and Packaging South Asia since 2007. Trained as an offset printer and IBM 360 computer programmer. Active in the movement to implement Indian scripts for computer-aided typesetting. Worked as a consultant and trainer to the Indian print and newspaper industry. Visiting faculty of IDC at IIT Powai in the 1990s. Also founder of IPP Services, Training and Research and has worked as its principal industry researcher since 1999. Author of book: Miracle of Indian Democracy.


  1. That’s great news. Mark your calendars for 18 and 19 March 2021 for a great event designed by some of the greenest and best conference and content thinkers. The Second Awards for Case Studies in Innovation, Design, Sustainability, and Active Intelligent packaging should also be friendly and fun.


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