Across-consult is active since 2008, mainly in the FMCG- and packaging market. Main focus is problem-solving by way of enhancing communication and marketing, search a way forward to innovate customer’s products and improve their market-position on an international level. In one sentence: find and develop innovative solutions for its customers
Across-consult is founding member of the We Create Change® Group, an international group of companies offering services like graphical design, know-how on production-facilities & machinery, food-technology and business-support in general. To deepen our understanding of the approach of this company we spoke with Peter Stael, owner and partner at Across-consult. Background of Peter is very differentiated and flexible: “I have always had a high interest in communication between people, between individuals and within groups, especially in difficult, complicated and also tense situations. Part of my experience is with young adults and children, that had many psychological problems, which lead often to high levels of stress. I also guided professionals that tried to build up a dedicated, caring environment around them. I have taken these experiences with me into the market of food, of packaging, and retail. I am always oriented towards supporting people, companies, organizations to go to the next level, to solve problems and create their own future, collaborate despite differences of interest and look for common ground”.
Peter has a background of 23 years in packaging, rooted in family history, being third generation in this field. “Starting Across-consult, based in Monteggio (CH), in 2008 we decided to combine mentioned experiences with the challenge we saw the sector had in taking care for the environment and clean production. We wanted to use our experience and collected know-how to the benefit of our clients and their stakeholders. In this way we have been able to support many SME’s, but also clients of international reputation in Europe and in the Middle-East”, declares Peter. Its network of partners extents now from Australia to China, and also to Eastern to Western Europe. They support customers to react and anticipate to this complex, ever changing world, supplying technical and organizational support. And especially also enhancing communication and mutual understanding between companies. Sourcing high performing solutions for them, based on in-depth relationships with reliable people and well-organized suppliers.
Packaging is changing and the future of packaging is very challenging
Consumers take more and more responsibilities upon themselves: to understand if the product is safe, if the product is good for health, if the supply-chain has followed a responsible, ethical approach throughout the chain.
And on the other hand we also allocate ever more responsibility upon consumers: take care of the environment, select quality of materials before throwing the packaging away in the right waste recycling-bin, etc. “This means that the responsibilities that a simple packaging, like a bag, or a label, has (and more and more will have) are getting higher and higher. Not only a packaging needs to fulfill its traditional role, but new roles are added and will ever more be added: customer-engagement, nutritional value, care for the environment, sustainability, anti-counterfeiting, chain-responsibility & transparency, waste management, operating in a cashier-free supermarket, sending message to your refrigerator to say you should eat the meat or the salad you bought three days ago”, says Peter.
It is up to the packaging industry to find ways to integrate all these functions into that simple label, that simple carton-box, that simple plastic bag, (which, by the way, may even not be made from plastic anymore). All these functions must work, must be reliable, must be intuitive for the end-user, the customer. Peter believes that “brand owners and retailers should understand that all this is creating a high burden also for the households. We should understand that we should also take away much of that burden. It is getting too difficult for the standard household. They need to be supported, helped”.
Realized solutions as regards label and packaging
Among many other projects, Across-consult has developed, for example, more sustainable solutions for several blue chips brands regarding stand-up pouches for liquid soap, shampoo, hair care-products, bringing them from a classical 3-layer plastic film to a high level of recycling possibilities.
Very interesting at the moment is the Keep-it freshness indicator, that is now recently given a dispensation upon, for the first time in an EU-country by means of the Dutch Food Authorities NVWA and the Ministry of VWS. An indicator that works as a dynamic date stamp and therefore enhances food safety and is important in the fight against food waste. It took Across-consult, with help from Keep-it Technology Norway, and the Wageningen University Netherlands, 5 years to get the authorities to come to this point. But the benefits are very clear: all the way from production, through all the chain, until the refrigerator of the consumer you know the status of the product. A real important step, a game-changer in the development of the future of packaging, as addressed above. Now at Across-consult are working on next generation packaging, interactive packaging.
But when we asked Peter if European consumers are ready to become interactive with label/packaging, this was his answer: “yes, and no. Scanning of QR-codes and such has become more common nowadays. But the interactive packaging should not only be a marketing feature; it should add functionality with the objective to relieve the customer. Till now the solutions have only accumulated responsibility to the customer. But it is the responsibility of the packaging industry, and also of the food producer and the retailer, to support the consumer. It is getting too complicated. Imagine: time will come that every packaging has a personalized content, specially produced for you. In pharmaceuticals this is already happening, and with the modifications on producer liability in the EU, producers of meat, coffee, snacks, confectionery will develop this way of producing too. The consumer should be able to rely on that; he cannot do all the research himself to be sure if the product is good or not good. The whole production-chain will bear that responsibility!”.
At the moment the company is working on this type of solutions. Keep-it indicator is the first in this direction, but the activity is going on towards other solutions.