The importance of product packaging cannot be ignored because of the increasing market competition especially in the ASEAN region. The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and its line agency, the Industrial Technology Development Institute (ITDI), have fully supported local initiatives to better improve packaging materials for Philippine made products.
“It is said that modern society is generally associated with packaging. I would say that packaging has a close connection with our society and economy; it always changes along with transformations in society. Packaging is continuing to be given a greater role, whether in area of business or in bigger concerns like food security and environmental issues,” said DOST Secretary Fortunato T. de la Peña in his keynote address during the ASEAN Packaging Conference.
For the first time, the ASEAN Packaging Conference was held on October 26, 2017 at the Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila in Pasay City, marking the 50th year anniversary of the organization where the Philippines is a founding member along with Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Singapore. This is one of the three events under the DOST supported by the ASEAN National Organizing Council and co-organized with the Packaging Institute of the Philippines.
The conference served as a good venue to discuss possible collaboration among the 10 ASEAN member countries and explore cooperation in common areas of development, such as 1) conducting packaging research and development, 2) addressing packaging regulations that hamper the competitiveness of ASEAN products, and 3) developing packaging standards that would benefit the ASEAN countries economically and socially.
“We all know that packaging is science and technology based, thus scientific and technological innovations are the main components in making ASEAN packaged products at par, if not better, with those from industrialized countries,” Sec. de la Peña added.
The science chief cited examples of Philippine packaging innovation like the invention of the sachet or the single serve products like shampoo, coffee, and the likes. Such packaging is not only for convenience in handling but also for making the products more affordable to the consumers. He believes that this will be the trend in all ASEAN countries.
Aside from the technological expertise of scientists and innovators in the ASEAN region, Sec. de la Peña said that human capital is crucial to developing cutting-edge packaging technologies that will address the demand of consumers in the region. This can be supported by strengthening the research and development agenda of each member country through collaboration and exchange of ideas.
“I believe we have world class designers in ASEAN. Look at our products in the supermarkets, duty free shops, and anywhere else in the world, ASEAN products are very competitive in terms of package design. Technological development in printing is so fast with digital printing technology and now we are in the age of 3D printing,” stressed Sec. de la Peña.
Sec. de la Peña underscored the importance of regional cooperation. He likewise extended his gratitude to the governments of Japan and South Korea, both member of the ASEAN Plus 3, for helping the ASEAN member states in developing capabilities on packaging technology and engineering. Such development is achieved through technical cooperation projects and through the ASEAN member-states’ packaging research institutions.
“In the next 10 to 20 years there will be huge demands for packaging that provide adequate protection and preservation of natural and manufactured product. The urgency of fast packaging technology development is needed for us to catch up with the growing population in ASEAN; making products [especially food products] available and affordable to as many people as possible will be vital in perking up economic growth and uplifting our quality of life,” Sec. de la Peña concluded. (S&T Media Service)