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Packaging experts deliver talk on helping infant formula brands to achieve their 'best' performance

2019-11-29 16:09 Friday

"What is the best?" That was the important question asked by Sebastien Hottlet, APAC Business Director,and Nele Stevens, Product Marketing Manager, both from the global caps and closures specialist UNITED CAPS, during a presentation given recently at the 6th Dairy Asia Pacific Summit 2019 (DairyAP) which took place in Singapore from November 21-22.


For Stevens, the answer to the question of "What is the best?" is clear. She explained: "The answer is, there is no universal answer to this question. The concept of 'what is the best' is constantly evolving over time." When it comes to producing the best packaging closure possible for the growing infant nutrition market, however, UNITED CAPS is confident that its new product rises to the top of the pile.

In the pair's presentation at Dairy AP, titled "Designed for Dairy: A Customer Oriented Approach to the Development of Innovative Closures," they outlined the rationale and design process that has led to the development of UNITED CAPS' latest, breakthrough product designed especially for the booming Asian infant formula market.

The innovative product, the result of extensive expert research and investigation, is the 127 SAFE-TE closure, which is set to go into production at the company's brand-new factory in Kulim, Malaysia, in September 2020, with a 99 mm solution in the pipeline.

The 127 SAFE-TE closure offers a new concept in infant formula packaging, having been developed especially to appeal to the multiple factors that affect the decisions of consumers, especially parents, when it comes to choosing exactly the right powdered milk or dietary supplement for their baby or child.

The 127 SAFE-TE closure features increased tamper evidence (TE) indicators; it comes in a range of colors including premium gold; it has distinctive curved edges; it includes an easy-to-use scoop; and, it is formed in a such a way that existing production lines need to make minimal changes to incorporate the new closure into their factory capping and filling processes.

Hottlet put it most succinctly. He said: "Our caps and closures tell silent stories about the best... We are always one step ahead in our research and development and our knowledge about regulatory requirements.  Innovation is inherent in our DNA. We deliver solutions that solve industry problems."


Infant milk formula is currently one of dairy's fastest-growing product categories. The global infant milk formula market size is projected to be valued at U.S.$ 82.31 billion by 2025, with a significant share of that originating in China, Indonesia, Malaysia and other large countries in the Asia-Pacific region.

In China, health scandals in the past decade have impacted confidence in domestic products, and parents are extremely sensitive about quality and trust. Chinese parents care a lot more about the quality and nutritional value of infant formula than price, according to recent research commissioned by Advanced Lipids. When asked to name the two factors most important to them when choosing formula, 45% of Chinese parents chose quality and 39% chose safety.

Perception of safety is directly linked to how a product is packaged. That is why UNITED CAPS has been so insistent on producing a product that puts safety front and centre in its design.

One of the key features of the 127 SAFE-TE closure is that it is tamperproof and makes it incredibly obvious if the product has been opened. Some parents worry that a used packaging container can be opened, refilled and resold. The 127 SAFE-TE closure allays this fear.

Because of UNITED CAPS' new FLEXBAND technology, it is practically impossible for a malevolent actor to remove the closure, tamper with the contents, and return the closure to its original condition, due to the prominent presence of the TE indicators.

As Benoit Henckes, CEO of UNITED CAPS, has stated in a recent interview, "127 SAFE-TE was engineered specifically for Asia, where there are elevated concerns about product purity, a need for effective anti-counterfeiting solutions and a demand for a more premium look."

During the presentation at DairyAP, Stevens delved further into an analysis of what makes infant formula packaging successful, including the strong and continued appetite for premium brands. She said that parents look to the appearance of a product on the shelf for vital signs to tell them whether a product compares favourably to its neighbours.

Stevens spoke about the changing ideas of parents over time as to how to provide the "best" care for their children, from medieval times and the 19th century right through to modern times.

Furthermore, Hottlet and Stevens highlighted three essential features of the 127 SAFE-TE closure. The first feature is colour, the second is shape, and the third is "touch and feel," they said. First, 127 SAFE-TE is offered in the standard blue, green and white UNITED CAPS colours. In addition, it comes in a premium gold option, which offers an overall look of higher quality and standout shelf appearance which is a growing trend in Asia.

Secondly, the 127 SAFE-TE offers rounded edges which give it a more feminine, curved shape. This helps differentiate it from other products; for example, from sports nutrition brands. Third, the texture and size of the cap is appealing to hold in a person's hand and offers a comfortable scale that looks good on the shelf.

Also, as already mentioned, the 127 SAFE-TE only requires minimal changes to existing capping and filling procedures in factories, important for manufacturers of infant nutrition, for whom extensive changes can be expensive and time-consuming. It does this whilst still incorporating the already-successful design features from UNITED CAPS' popular PROTECSCOOP range – including ease of preparation and scoop hygiene.

127 SAFE-TE addresses all of these "perception building elements" and more in a complete package, the pair explained. They said that 127 SAFE-TE is an offering that brings infant nutrition products to the next level at a time when quality is such a crucial marker of difference.

As Sebastien Hottlet put it: "Packaging is crucial in communicating the quality of what's on the inside, through what's on the outside. In that moment, the packaging tells a whole story to a mother or any parent, without saying a single word."

"That is what we at UNITED CAPS have been doing for the last 80 years. Our caps and enclosures tell silent stories about the best," he concluded.

That is why, during the Dairy Industry Asia Pacific Awards 2019 hosted on the evening of November 21 as part of the summit, Duxes was pleased to announce UNITED CAPS as the recipient of the Most Welcomed Packaging Solution of the Year award for its 127 SAFE-TE closure. The grand awards ceremony was hosted by Duxes to recognise the most outstanding products and contributions to the region's dairy market over the past 12 months.


The award was especially welcomed by UNITED CAPS since 2019 is its 80th anniversary year. Henckes remarked on the occasion: "Our long heritage in continued success in this business is a powerful endorsement of the level of knowledge and expertise we have been able to accumulate over the years."

"Our legacy is one of progress, but we are certainly not resting on our laurels. We are looking ahead to continued and significant innovation during our next 80 years, with a platform designed to continue our growth and progression. We are excited about what comes next!" he said.

Currently, UNITED CAPS is performing exceptionally well. The global manufacturer of caps and closures employs almost 600 people, with a turnover that reached around EUR 149 million in 2018. It is headquartered in Luxembourg and has manufacturing facilities in Belgium, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Luxembourg and Spain, and now Malaysia as well.

Many industry insiders expressed great interest in the SAFE-TE cap during the summit and said they are looking forward to observing its further development when it finally hits the shelves next year. In addition, a statement from UNITED CAP pointed out: "Since the product has not yet been launched … we recently demonstrated this unique closure at the grand opening of our Kulim, Malaysia, plant and received extremely positive feedback from visitors who were able to see it in action."

The talk by Hottlet and Stevens was just one of many given at DairyAP 2019. Other presentations at the summit included those by representatives of Fonterra, Yili, Arla Foods, Lazada, Amul Dairy, Nestle, Guangzhou Society of Agronomy, Vietnam Dairy Association, Singapore Food Agency, and more.

For further information about 6th Dairy Asia Pacific Summit 2019 and the Dairy Industry Asia Pacific Awards 2019, as well as full details on all of the upcoming events in the Duxes Dairy Series and Duxes Food and Beverage Series, please visit the official website here: http://www.duxes-foodbeverage.com/

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