The Warsaw Voice » Other » Monthly - May 28, 2008
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Ahead of the Pack
Evan Klintner, Managing Director of Tetra Pak in Poland, talks to Ewa Andrzejczak.

Tetra Pak is a packaging system for liquid food products. When did Tetra Pak become the name of the company?
Tetra Pak was founded by Dr. Ruben Rausing in 1951. Dr. Rausing had a long career behind him in the packaging industry, particularly in dry goods. He had been involved in developing efficient distribution systems to cope with the shortage of goods during the world wars and in the aftermath he was determined to find packaging for liquid daily commodities such as milk. He put several important conditions on a new product to accomplish this:

a. The package must be produced in an efficient way and allow for efficient distribution
b. The material should be cheap and abundant in supply. Paper was the natural choice as it is one of the base materials produced in Sweden, but also renewable through responsible forestry.

After many years of development of techniques to make paper durably resistant to the liquid it would hold, the first filling machine was delivered in 1952.

The next important breakthrough was the development of processing techniques, that would allow milk to become virtually sterile, without ruining its nutritional properties and taste. Tetra Pak's packaging concept was ideal for the purpose of filling milk processed in such a way into a carton, still maintaining protection of the milk under sterile conditions.

On these foundations rest the company's expansion into the world market. The aseptic processing and packaging has made milk and other beverages available at low cost, with long durability and efficient protection for distribution and consumption.

When did Tetra Pak enter the Polish market?
Tetra Pak was able to establish its business in Poland in 1990 and has since then introduced a long variety of packaging shapes, openings, printing methods and processing and packaging systems. We cooperate with many of the leading brands on the Polish market. Our first customer was Hortex (Przysucha) in 1989.

Packaging material for the Polish market is produced in about 10 different factories in Europe. Having factories with high volume allows for efficient production, as opposed to having a factory dedicated for the Polish market. In the common market, barriers to trade are gone, and our customers can have free access to the full variety of packages, thanks to our factory base.

What are the top products at the moment in regard to packaging?
Aseptic packaging in the Tetra Brik Aseptic is the biggest product when it comes to milk. This shape allows for a large front surface to face the consumer at the shelf, in addition to efficient production and distribution. Nowadays, a variety of screw openings, flip openings or pull-tab openings allow easier access than the original perforated tear-off opening.

The market leader in juices, nectars and carton-packed still drinks is Tetra Prisma Aseptic. This package has a more round shape (actually octagonal in cross-section) that has a different feel when gripping. This package is used by all the leading juice brands in Poland. Recently it was also launched for condensed milk.

What does your company's policy of corporate social responsibility involve?
First and foremost we are active in the field of environmental impact of processing, packaging and distribution. As the paper carton is easy to recycle and a source of good raw materials, we actively support the building of a recycling scheme in Poland. It is still at a low level, but thanks to an agreement between the organizations representing the fillers, the suppliers of carton packaging and the ministry of environment, we believe Poland will reach average European levels within the next few years. There is great interest in renewable material from all society, as commodity prices increase and availability is short due to world market demand.

Apart from our environmental corporate social responsibility engagement, we are determined to offer our employees an attractive workplace with a long term perspective. The implications of such a policy range from offering extended healthcare, fair treatment on maternity leave, a chance for a career and personal development on top of fair compensation.

Last year Tetra Pak in Poland has been named an "Outstandingly Mother-Friendly Company" in a competition organised by, among others, Rzeczpospolita.

Additionally, Tetra Pak engages in charity programs and sponsoring. Unfortunately, there are many children in Poland without parents or with parents unable to bring their children up in the right way. The conditions of these children are often very poor, and we contribute regularly with money and goods from both individual employees and our company.

Finally, we engage in social programs to increase the awareness of milk as the most complete and healthy source of nutrition known to mankind. Poland still has low consumption, especially between the ages of 15 and 30, and we support educational programs for mothers, pediatricians, schools and other promotions to raise awareness and to get people to ensure milk is a part of their daily diet.

What are Tetra Pak's plans for the future?
We are optimistic about the development of Poland in general and in particular its possibilities to play a significant role as supplier of food to the European market. Poland is blessed with a fertile landscape and a good geographical location, which would allow for high yield production without excessive use of fertilization. In a future society less dependent on petrochemical products and energy-demanding production, such assets will be of high value. Day by day, sustainability is gaining on the political and civic agenda, in the wake of visible climate change and subsequent natural disasters. Tetra Pak formulates its vision as "We make food safe and available, everywhere," and in doing so, we use renewable materials and environmentally efficient production.