German Confectionery Association: Packaging Regulation Threatens Seasonal Products
3/25/2024 Retail Brands Industry Look into Europe Article

German Confectionery Association: Packaging Regulation Threatens Seasonal Products

Will the new regulation from Brussels spell the end for popular seasonal confectionery with special packaging or decorations? The confectionery industry is worried. Brand manufacturers such as Nestlé point to the marketing function of packaging and the traditions of confectionery on festive days.

Smarties brand packaging with smarties on a tray. The confectionery industry is making its packaging more sustainable. Nestlé, for example, has switched its Smarties brand packaging to paper. According to the German Confectionery Association, seasonal products with special decorations are at risk due to the regulations.
The Federal Association of the German Confectionery Industry (BDSI) has expressed extreme concern that the EU’s plans for design of packaging could mean the end of popular seasonal confectionery such as heart-shaped boxes of chocolates or chocolate Santa Clauses with decorations such as bows, scarves, or hats.

The draft of the “Packaging & Packaging Waste Regulation” (PPWR) already made it clear that the focus should be on minimizing packaging in the future. Unlike the EU Parliament, however, the European Council’s position did not provide for any exemptions for seasonal products or gift packaging, which have been appreciated and in high demand by consumers for many decades. Exemptions for mandatory packaging minimization are currently only provided for products with trademark or design protection. However, small and medium-sized companies in particular would not be able to apply for the corresponding trademark or design protection for each of their products due to the considerable costs and administrative effort involved, explains the confectionery association,  which includes manufacturers of salty and sweet snacks.

When the Bow is Missing

“Omitting a bow, for example, means that a product’s suitability as a gift is lost. It is precisely this type of decoration that makes many popular products unique. For example, the bell or bow on an Easter bunny or Santa Claus or a small Christmas tree on a chocolate snowman are unmistakable features that add value to consumer expectations. A special presentation of a box of chocolates would no longer be possible under the EU Council’s plans,” explains Dr. Carsten Bernoth, Managing Director of the BDSI.

The BDSI therefore strongly supports the position of the EU Parliament, which considers the special design for special occasions in addition to the purely protective function of packaging. Without taking into account consumer acceptance and the function of the packaging, gift and seasonal packaging would lose its special design, which is appreciated by consumers, if packaging components were removed.

Following the provisional agreement between the Council of the EU and the European Parliament on the planned EU Packaging Regulation (PPWR), many packaging industry associations have expressed both praise and criticism. Most experts emphasize that a detailed analysis of the compromise is currently not possible until the text is available in full. At the request of FACHPACK360°, the Federal Association of the Confectionery Industry also did not want to make any more specific comments beyond the February press release.
Packaging expert Dr. Christian Detrois from Nestlé speaks at the dvi's German Packaging Congress. Packaging expert Dr. Christian Detrois from Nestlé reported on the food company's sustainability agenda at the dvi's German Packaging Congress.

At the German Packaging Congress organized by the German Packaging Institute (dvi), the packaging industry also discussed the PPWR and its potential impact on consumer goods and food packaging. Packaging expert Dr. Christian Detrois from Nestlé explained that he has been trying to reduce packaging more and more for more than 20 years. The topic was, therefore, not new, and definitely in the interests of the industry, but it was also “a double-edged sword”. In Italy, for example, giant chocolate eggs are traditionally given as gifts with correspondingly lavish packaging. “Do we want to ban this as a society?”, Detrois asked the congress participants. The packaging expert also explained that the marketing function of packaging had not been mentioned in the PPWR draft. However, marketing played a particularly important role in the confectionery industry. Sustainable packaging plays a major role at Nestlé, Detrois said. This started with paper packaging, such as the packaging for Smarties.

However, paper packaging was only the better choice for sensitive foods to a limited extent, he added. A highly complex plastic, ideally PP or just PE with appropriate metallization as a barrier, was often the most suitable solution to prevent premature spoilage of food. However, current packaging machines could not handle the new laminate so well. Machines would have to be bought new or upgraded accordingly. “That’s a huge thing we’re doing”, the expert said. And the demand for more recycled material was not as easy to implement in practice as was generally thought. The increased use of recyclates was often offset by supply bottlenecks.