MeadWestvaco (MWV) provides packaging solutions to many of the world’s most-admired brands in the healthcare, personal and beauty care, food and beverage. With 22,000 employees worldwide, MWV operates in 30 countries and serves customers in more than 100 nations.
Premium Beauty News - What is the outcome of the year 2008 for MWV, in particular regarding personal and beauty products?
Daniel Saksik - MWV’s recently announced 2008 earnings results and reported annual sales of USD 6.6 billion. In our personal and beauty care segment, MWV generated USD 350 million.
MWV recently appointed industry expert Thomas Jonas to lead our Beauty and Personal Care strategic business unit. Before joining MWV, Thomas served as general manager of Alcan Beauty Solutions. We also continue to benefit from the acquisitions of two trusted and innovative brand builders in the world of dispensing solutions - Calmar and Keltec - and they are fully integrated into MWV. MWV acquired Calmar in 2006 and Keltec was acquired in 2007.
These moves have enabled MWV to strongly position itself in the primary packaging market, along with innovative products such as Pearl Airless, which utilizes our patented Rolling Bellow technology.
We are continuing to strengthen our leadership in dispensing solutions, which differentiate brands and also support more efficient manufacturing. MWV offers state-of-the-art laboratory and testing facilities that can help brand owners optimize their formulations to work with our range of products and deliver the needed consumer experience. We understand that an innovative dispensing system can re-invent a product and open an entirely new market to customers.
Premium Beauty News - What are last year’s best achievements in terms of new products launches?
Daniel Saksik - One of our most transformative products launched in 2008 was Clikit IP, a resin-injected version of the company’s market-leading Melodie Clikit pump. Clikit IP was developed to offer prestige fragrance brands a cost effective, high performance pump that provides the look and feel of traditional luxury packaging.
In terms of functional advancements, one of the driving trends we’ve seen is that product formulations are becoming more viscous. MWV developed a new approach to support thicker formulas, and these innovative sprayers are part of our high viscosity product pump and sprayer line. Our Mark VII-HV product is a great example - it can spray higher viscosity products such as lotions and gels.
Another area of focus in dispensing functionality is spray performance. In the fine mist category, MWV is engineering new ways of spraying to deliver at a higher predictable velocity to deliver a consistent spray pattern with finer particle size. The end result is a formulation that can dry faster with the intended product efficacy.
Premium Beauty News - Forecasts for the year 2009 are not very optimistic. Within such a context, what is your message to the rest of the industry?
Daniel Saksik - The personal care market, like every other market segment, is not immune to the challenges posed by today’s economic downturn. Some of the effects in the personal care industry are through lower consumer demand, de-stocking inventory or the postponing of launches of new and enhanced products.
However, before and during this difficult economic period, MWV has taken bold, proactive steps to secure its position in its targeted markets. We have unique capabilities and end-to-end solutions; and we have strong global positions in this market - especially in dispensers and pumps - which helps provide stability in an otherwise grim environment. We also know that this market will turn around; eventually customers will launch new products and they’ll want to do so with the help of a packaging partner - like MWV - that has a strong innovation pipeline, a broad global footprint, and the design capabilities to help their brands stand-out.
Premium Beauty News - Is there a risk that environmental concerns do not survive difficult economic times?
Daniel Saksik - Sustainability is more often linked to near- and long-term environmental, social and economic benefits. While many are focused on driving costs out of their business in the short term, which is definitely a critical issue today, they may overlook the broader benefits of sustainable solutions to their business and brand.
Also, it is important to understand the lifecycle of products in order to accurately analyze costs throughout the entire supply chain. At MWV we integrate sustainability into our packaging solutions in the way we source raw materials - including the use of recovered materials - and design, manufacture and transport our products. Sustainability also influences our business practices - from the research behind our innovative and market-relevant products, to the ethical business conduct of our employees, to our many initiatives to help communities grow and prosper.
In the area of dispensing, MWV has increasingly focused on continuing to reduce the number of parts and the number of materials while enabling greater design flexibility. Take for example our Rolling Bellow technology, which is a 100% thermal plastic component that replaces four other parts. This allows us to have a true non-venting airless dispenser that is metal-free, has the lowest number of components in the industry, and can support high viscosity products.