Collaboration is key to innovation in packaging supply chain

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Open communication and collaboration within the supply chain is key to innovation in packaging, according to a group of packaging suppliers and brands including Walki, Boots and Heinz.

One of the participants, Heinz’s process and packaging development manager Richard Heath, called for collaboration across the supply chain from the very start. “Good practice is about getting more functions and more people involved as early as possible and ideally getting external people involved as well, primarily suppliers,” he said.

Walki’s technical service manager Steve Pye also called for more open discussion across the supply chain. “Innovation is dependent on good communication. Listening to what the need is, looking at your technology and seeing if it can be adapted or developed, and if it can’t then be truthful about it. So you’ve got to communicate by listening and by telling facts, not fiction,” he said.

The study investigated current levels of innovation within and between companies and also identified the main needs and opportunities for innovation. The findings were based largely on interviews with 20 members of the FMCG packaging supply chain in the UK.

It was conducted by Leeds University Business School and commissioned by Faraday. A consultancy which brokers the flow of knowledge and insight between academia and the FMCG industry to support the development of branded consumer products and sustainable business growth.

Dr Walter Lewis of Faraday said: “Almost everyone interviewed agreed that collaboration between companies in the supply chain is very important to innovation. Companies with more open communications tended to be more open to innovation, and we found that when suppliers are offered the opportunity to show what they can do, they respond very well.”

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