Tetra Pak, a processing and food packaging company founded almost 70 years ago, was built on a single concept for a now iconic innovation. “Ruben Rausing, our founder, believed a package should save more than it costs,” says Elena Moruzzi, Vice President, Automation & Digital Development and Technology at Tetra Pak. The Swiss multinational focuses on how innovation can drive value for food producers, including new, efficient, and sustainable processes. We met with Moruzzi, an electronic engineer by training, to discuss the impact of recent digital acceleration on Tetra Pak’s strategy and how the company plans to set itself apart with its ever-present, singular mission to protect food, people, and the planet.
Accenture: Can you highlight any ground-breaking initiatives at Tetra Pak?
Elena Moruzzi: In 2015, we launched the world´s first filling machine that uses eBeam, a new technology to sterilize packaging material, which we developed in collaboration with our supplier Comet. eBeam is more sophisticated than the traditional hydrogen peroxide sterilization process for packaging material. It uses a controlled beam of electrons to kill micro-organisms as the packaging runs through the filling machine, reducing energy consumption and food waste. We have also recently launched our first-generation non-foil material that is now available on the supermarket shelf in Japan. It is the first step in our sustainability journey towards fully renewable and recyclable packaging. The protective aluminum layer has been replaced by a more environmentally sound polymer film, cutting the carbon footprint by almost 25%.
Accenture: How is your team contributing to Tetra Pak’s sustainability vision?
EM: When we speak about sustainable packaging, we’re talking about packaging that is made from renewable or recyclable materials that are different from what we use today and that will also behave differently in the equipment. For example, today’s sealing system uses foil; in the future, we will require a different process when using alternative materials. Automation and digital can support this through the digitization of the process control, ensuring that the new system will work with any new material moving forward. Adaptability is key, and my team enables that. Traceability and transparency around materials is also critical. Digital tools ensure that what we are using is transparently tracked across the value chain, in order to give customers and consumers evidence that what they are buying is made from sustainable materials. Recycling is a key element of the sustainability journey, and with digital tools we can support the consumer to recycle in the best way and support the recycler to differentiate the material.
Accenture: What emerging trends will be game changers in the market and for Tetra Pak?
EM: Sustainability is the first one. It’s a big revolution for this sector and a big challenge. But it’s also a great opportunity for us, our customers and for the consumer. Another trend we believe is important is one we’re calling ‘integrate and optimize.’ Our customers will increasingly be faced with the need to optimize their processes to reduce waste and costs. Optimization of plants and production is key and something we would really like to lead in, together with our customer. Consumer needs are evolving, and we believe personalization of the product will be important in the future. Specific innovations and customization are therefore very important, and we are investing a lot in digital printing to ensure we can create the right flexibility in our processes. ‘Batch-of-one’ (single-item or made-to-order production) is not just about printing; it is about ensuring the entire value chain is ready, modern and flexible to get to that point. We lead in food and beverage packaging, making food safe and available everywhere. Food safety, while also safeguarding sustainability, is crucial for us and will continue to be important in the future. I think it is the responsibility of every player in the food and beverage value chain.
Accenture: What inspires you most?
EM: It inspires me to see technology translating into something of great value for our customers. Sometimes you struggle with these breakthroughs, but it’s a journey. However, when you realize how important those technologies are, that is really exciting to me. Technology is key, and it’s important to keep a long-term view, to help the next generation.