UPM Raflatac sees new market opportunities in MENA
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by Shradha Mishra, deputy editor
Business for UPM Raflatac ended on a positive note in FY20 in the MENA region despite the challenges presented by Covid 19. In particular, the pandemic exposed the logistics remoteness of many African countries and saw global inflation of raw material costs.
Cem Karabayir, senior country manager, Turkey, South of Asia, Middle East and Caucasia at UPM Raflatac, says despite lockdowns, Covid positive cases in the team and unexpected restrictions on movement of goods, the company was able to achieve reasonable results in these difficult times.
‘It has been an electrifying journey where we see many synergies with our global operations and have had many exciting opportunities to grow business together with our customers,’ shares Karabayir. ‘We have seen that our innovative materials are suited to many local needs even with some exceptional requirements regarding artwork and design.’
Karabayir explains that the continuing trend towards urbanization in the region has increased consumption of packaged food and other goods. ‘There is interest towards more innovative and sustainable labeling solutions in the market.’ Covid-19 has seen a shift towards health and hygiene products, and at the same time the HORECA business (Hotels, Restaurants & Catering) is starting to recover.
‘Our aim is that we, as a company are an agile business and therefore, we are constantly monitoring the market needs and adjust our operations to always meet them as well as possible,’ says Karabayir. ‘A constant dialogue with our customers is key in identifying future market needs.’
While Karabayir’s focus is mainly on UAE, Saudi Arabia, and South Africa, he sees the entire MENA region as an emerging market opportunity. Sustainability is a key trend in the region, and this is driving the use of linerless thermal labels for the logistics and retail labeling and new initiatives including more used of recycled paper, post-consumer plastics in labels and sustainable forestry certified papers.
Another interesting trend is towards digital communications with MENA customers. ‘We have seen that digital will become more and more important in how customers want to connect with us and therefore we are introducing a new customer portal, My Raflatac to the market. This will be, yet again, one new way for customers to reach us quickly, when needed.’