Tetra Pak’s 36-year journey in India

Interview – Cassio Simões, managing director, Tetra Pak South Asia

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Cassio Simões describes the 36 year journey of Tetra Pak in India Photo- Tetra Pak

Tetra Pak has been an early investor in the Indian food and beverage processing story and the country’s self-sufficiency and export in these sectors. It is also an undisputed pioneer and one of the dominant players in the country’s food processing and packaging industry. Packaging South Asia took the opportunity to interview its managing director for South Asia, Cassio Simões, just preceding the 50th Dairy Industry Conference at Hyderabad, which takes place from 4 to 6 March 2024.

Packaging South AsiaAt this juncture, how would you describe Tetra Pak’s 36-year journey in India and its contribution to the Indian food and beverage industry?

Cassio Simões For over three decades, Tetra Pak has been an important part of India’s food and beverage processing and packaging industry. Given India’s dominance in the dairy market across the globe, we have continuously introduced global and local end-to-end solutions that not only support production but also improve the operational efficiency of our customers’ plants. 

Today, Tetra Pak’s diverse portfolio covers over 240 unique package types and 7,000 unique combinations of sizes, shapes, and effects. And that is just the beverage packaging business! Our packaging, processing, and services solutions cover a diverse range of categories such as white milk, juices, ORS, cheese, ice cream, yogurt, milk powder, baby and toddler milk, condensed milk, value-added dairy products, plant-based beverages, and much more.

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Cassio Simões, managing director, Tetra Pak South Asia
Photo- Tetra Pak

In dairy, for example, several lakh liters of milk and milk products are processed on Tetra Pak equipment today. I can proudly say that almost every dairy plant in India today has a bit of Tetra Pak in it. Did you know that more than half the world’s ice cream is made on Tetra Pak equipment? In India, every time you eat an ice cream, there’s at least an 80% chance that we had a role to play in it.

Our world-class manufacturing site in Chakan is a leading example of our commitment to the Indian market. Outside of Sweden, it is Tetra Pak’s most advanced facility, which can produce over 16 billion carton packages every year. Recently, the packaging material factory was awarded the first world-class TPM achievement by the JIPM (Japan Institute of Plant Maintenance) for its outstanding levels of production quality, reliability, efficiency, and sustainability in the country. The integrated site hosts a packaging material factory, processing equipment factory, recipe formulation center, equipment renovation center, parts distribution center, and more. 

It is an integrated facility, the only one in India today. As you can see, from idea to market, we have everything a company needs to turn its dream into a successful product. 

A key priority for us is to increase our local manufacturing and to deliver the same quality that you would get anywhere else in the world, right here in India. Already about 80% of the equipment we sell in India is being made in India as well. We have tripled the number of equipment being manufactured in India in the last 10 years. We have expanded our production floor twice, on the back of the rapidly increasing demand! And we are already thinking about what’s next.

PSA – Talking specifically about dairy, what are the categories that you have expertise in for your customers?

Cassio Simões –  As I said, we have been in India for over 36 years now. We’ve not only played a key role in shaping the food packaging and processing industry here but have also become a part of India’s developmental story. Our commitment is to deliver whatever our customers need – khoa, cheese, paneer, ice cream… whatever it may be! And our commitment is to deliver world-class quality, right here in India.

We have the skill, the technology, and the passion to design solutions that have never been designed before. Everything we do is keeping in mind our customers and our customers’ customers. We study the needs and identify the best possible solutions to address those needs. 

PSA – What about consumers – how do you see consumer demands changing? What is the role you can play to cater to these shifts?

Cassio Simões –  Taking the milk category itself, a dynamic shift is unfolding. We see a lot of premiumization like the growth of A2 milk, lactose-free milk, organic milk, and such. A2 milk is growing at a CAGR of 26%, and organic milk at 25% as per Imarc, which clearly shows the opportunity out there. In ice creams too, we see an increasing demand for inclusions such as chocolate chunks, fruits, dry fruits, and other possibilities. 

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Value-added dairy products such as flavored milk, lassi, buttermilk, cheese, ghee, paneer, ice cream, and several others are all growing in double digits
Photo- iStock

Then there are value-added dairy products such as flavored milk, lassi, buttermilk, cheese, ghee, paneer, ice cream, and several others – all growing in double digits. 

At Tetra Pak, we understand the changing consumer demand and continuously work towards developing innovative packaging solutions and processing technologies to cater to growing preferences. One example that I mentioned earlier is premium ice-creams with chunks. Premium ice cream products are expected to be free of dents, protrusions, and uneven edges. This is no easy feat while maintaining the quality and consistency of the product and ensuring operational efficiency for the producer. 

This is where innovators like Tetra Pak come in with our advanced technologies. In this case, we have the Tetra Pak Extrusion Wheel that enables brands to make uniform, premium-quality ice cream with large inclusions up to 25 mm in size, at the highest capacity in the industry and the lowest cost. The equipment can produce up to 200 products per minute and 12,000 products per lane per hour. Technology like this is a win-win for both consumers and customers.

PSASince we are meeting on the eve of the 50th Dairy Industry Conference at Hyderabad, please tell us what are you showcasing at the event.

Cassio Simões –  With a legacy of decades and our deep knowledge and understanding of dairy technology across the world, Tetra Pak offers a complete portfolio of dairy processing and packaging solutions. From milk and cheese to yoghurt and ice cream, we can supply everything from a single valve to a complete greenfield factory. 

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The Tetra Pak Extrusion Wheel enables brands to make uniform, premium-quality ice cream with large inclusions up to 25 mm in size
Photo- Tetra Pak

Some of the highlights of our capabilities that you will witness at the upcoming 50th Dairy Industry Conference include a diverse range of over 45 products, including white milk, cheese, ice cream, yogurt, powder, baby and toddler milk, condensed milk, and value-added dairy products for which we have end-to-end solutions. It is also a great opportunity for start-ups and new-age brands to explore new ideas with us.

Given our focus on Make in India, we will also showcase locally manufactured processing equipment, including the freezers, high shear mixer, and a tipping station, all critical for dairy processing. All of these are being manufactured at our site in Chakan, near Pune.

Services are another aspect that delivers strong value for our customers, and we will be showcasing not just the latest innovations like maintenance units that can help reduce downtime by 50%, but also our solutions that harness the power of technology and data like remote support and connected workforce solutions. And of course, we will spotlight the progress we are making on our sustainability commitments, especially some key partnerships that we have forged with customers together – to help decarbonize the entire value chain. 

PSA – Finally, the industry is becoming increasingly competitive. What sets you apart?

Cassio Simões –  I do believe that there is a place in the market for everyone, and the goal should be to grow the market itself. Since we are in the business of food, safety and quality are of prime importance and that unequivocally must remain at the core of business. The nature of the industry is such that it is not a price game, it is a ‘value’ game. What is the value we can create for customers and consumers? 

Think about the topic of sustainability, for instance. Till a few years ago, there was little focus on it and little experience that most organizations had. We were one of the few that started well ahead of the curve, and that is an exceptional value that we bring to our customers today – be it on the equipment side or collection and recycling knowledge. Similarly, delivering world-class equipment from the heart of India is a value that only Tetra Pak offers today. 

As I said earlier, today we are the only end-to-end partner for food and beverage companies in India, investing ahead of the curve to support the ambitions of our customers. Even as a market-leading organization, we strongly believe that we have only touched the tip of the iceberg… the best is yet to come. We have helped build the industry for nearly 4 decades, and we are even more excited for the next 4! 

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