Asia Pacific (APAC)
The Asia Pacific region covers a vast range of customer requirements, ranging from the developed markets of Australia and Japan to the emerging consumers of India. In the developing countries of the region, an increasing focus on health, convenience and sustainability is running alongside an ongoing need for affordability, particularly at a time of inflationary pressures.
The start of the year saw strong demand as many South-East Asian countries recovered from COVID-19 restrictions. Later in the year, headwinds emerged with the renewed lockdowns in China and milk shortages in Indonesia and Thailand due to higher feedstock costs. The resilient performance of the aseptic carton business reflected volume and price gains, the ramp-up of new filling machines across the region, and continuing expansion in countries such as India. The region won a record number of new filling machine contracts in 2022, primarily in India and South-East Asia. Customers recognise the superior flexibility of our filling machines, which allows for downsizing in an inflationary environment.
In China, the team produced a record 10.6 billion aseptic carton sleeves in 2022, which was a resilient performance in a market effected by COVID-19 lockdown measures.
Evergreen Asia: building on our strong position in liquid dairy in China
SIG announced the acquisition of Evergreen Asia early in 2022 and the business was consolidated from the beginning of August. Evergreen Asia supplies filling machines, cartons, closures and after-sales service to customers in the chilled segment, mainly for milk. It is the market leader in China, where demand for milk is robust, driven by awareness of its health benefits. As chilled milk is mainly consumed at home, the acquisition broadens our offering with an increase in litre-sized packs, complementing our on-the-go range.
Our aseptic team in China is able to leverage its marketing and technical expertise into chilled and extended shelf-life packaging while also bringing innovation to this segment of the market. Initial innovations will focus on a one-stop opening spout to improve pouring, while we also plan to upgrade filling machine performance to increase output per hour. The acquisition is already generating new cross-selling opportunities with existing aseptic customers.
Outperforming in India
In 2022, the expansion of our business in India accelerated. India is the largest aseptic carton market in APAC and is growing by around 12% annually – twice the average growth rate for the region. In India, SIG has grown from just two filling machines in 2018 to 35 filling machines in 2022 and we are partnering with all the top liquid dairy and non-carbonated soft drinks companies. Our format flexibility ensures that our customers can achieve the price points which local consumers can afford.
“In a dynamic market like India, where there is constant evolution in consumer preferences, trends and behaviour patterns, it is essential for the FMCG industry to be agile and respond quickly to market changes. In order to swiftly cater to the continually changing trends, we’ve joined hands with SIG Group. With their cutting-edge Swiss packaging technology, we have high flexibility to introduce our beverages in a variety of pack sizes and price points to match the buying power of our consumers – from affordable to premium. The goal is to build the Indian beverage market, unlock its full potential and hit new levels of growth with strong partners who are as invested as us in making this vision happen. Moreover, SIG shares our organisation principle of sustainable growth and expansion.”
Joint Managing Director of Parle Agro Pvt Ltd
Premiumisation and sustainability
Elsewhere in APAC, health awareness is increasing and there is a trend towards premium products with high-quality and innovative ingredients. Roots in Taiwan launched its first plant-based drink, using apricot kernels from Asian apricot trees. TH in Vietnam adopted SIG’s drinksplus technology to create a pioneering healthy snack drink containing milk, oats and nuts.
Sustainability is becoming a driving force across the region – and SIG is at the forefront. In China, we have set ourselves the ambitious goal of upgrading all our portion packs to aluminium-free structures by 2026. In December, we received our first commercial order for our aseptic aluminium-free packaging for Yili’s premium white milk product, Satine.
“We always strive to develop benefits through innovation. Starting 2022 with an Australian first by offering consumers of our popular liquid stock range one of the most sustainable packaging solutions continues our longstanding commitment to improving the overall sustainability of our products.”
Managing Director of Massel
In Australia, Massel became the first company to launch SIGNATURE FULL BARRIER for its plant-based range of cooking stocks.
Category growth in China
In 2022, the Chinese team extended its packaging portfolio to include plant-based milk alternatives in both the ambient and chilled market segments, with packs for oat milk and buffalo milk.
We do not have to look far ahead to see the benefits of SIG’s expanded portfolio in the Asia Pacific region. Chilled carton enhances our relationship with existing customers and gives us access to new customers, including regional and city dairies. Bag-in-box and spouted pouch establish SIG as a strategic partner providing total filling solutions, enabling our customers to serve wider consumer needs. Cimory in Indonesia, which has chosen SIG as a partner for its new aseptic carton factory, already had a relationship with our acquired chilled and spouted pouch businesses. This illustrates the signficant cross-selling opportunities for our broadened portfolio.
1 At constant currency.
2 At constant currency, excluding the impacts of the paper mill divestment and the Scholle IPN and Evergreen Asia acquisitions.