Bits & Pieces With Bite


The year is closing, hopefully on a high note for all PFFC’s readers. As tradition has dictated at this time each year, I need to clean out my “editorial inspiration” file of material that will grow useless unless I put it to quick use. So while the subject matter of this column may be eclectic, I think you’ll find these bits and pieces have some bite. (Italics below are my remarks.)

  • This news bit wasn’t a surprise; nevertheless, the implications of the announcement confirmed a trend we’ll be seeing. Chesapeake Corp. is building a pharmaceutical packaging plant in China to supply paperboard cartons, labels, and leaflets to domestic (meaning Chinese) and multinational (ah, there’s the rub!) pharmaceutical customers. The 36,000-sq-ft plant will be adjacent to its existing plastic packaging plant in Kunshan and will be operational by mid-2006. How are you growing your business globally?
  • Here’s a lesser-known finding that will elicit a predictable reaction. Did you know researchers have found that taking a hit of marijuana is less harmful than keeping up with e-mail and cell phone calls? An article in the May 5 Chicago Sun-Times reports a Hewlett-Packard-commissioned study found “info-mania will damage [workers’] performance by reducing their mental sharpness.” Now you have an excuse for not keeping up with e-mail! Be careful though. I don’t think smoking weed on the job is an alternative.
  • Paul Solman, correspondent for “The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer,” reported in an October 14 broadcast covering “Government Control Over China’s Economy” that trade with China is “based on cheap manufacturing, cheap labor. But manufacturing is becoming more and more mechanized—in China like everywhere else. In fact, between 1995 and 2002, China lost 15 million manufacturing jobs, compared with a loss of 2 million manufacturing jobs in the US.” Whoever thinks manufacturing in China isn’t sophisticated has a lot to learn. Who do you think is keeping the revenues of many large original equipment manufacturers healthy? Many OEMs say Europe and the US have flat to little growth in terms of equipment sales. The ability to do quick turnarounds with emphasis on quality will continue to give US converters a domestic competitive edge, provided they have the high-speed equipment to manufacture product.
  • The Foodservice & Packaging Inst. (FPI) claims an Annual Foodservice Packaging Industry Survey reveals “about three-quarters of single-use foodservice packaging converters in both Europe and North America said they expect their sales volumes to be better this year than last, and more than half of the respondents expected their profits to be better than last year.” FPI president John Burke says, “This year’s survey data reflects…optimism. Manufacturers are very bullish about the immediate future of the businesses.” Would someone please get together with the OEMs and figure out the disconnect here?!
  • Have you heard about a new book by Katherine Albrecht and Liz McIntryre titled, “Spychips: How major corporations and government plan to track your every move with RFID?” The Assn. for Automatic Identification and Mobility (AIM) explains it would need an entire book to point out all the flaws in this creative work, but it has “just enough technical detail to lend it an air of credibility and more than enough nightmarish speculation to make it truly frightening.” AIM doesn’t deny there may be reason to be concerned about the “security of databases that…contain detailed information about consumers’ purchasing habits and other intimate details.” Sounds like someone has some reverse marketing to do.
  • Lastly, remember about 15 years ago when supermarkets came out with “generic” branded products? The packaging graphics then—let’s be honest—looked like dog doo. One or two colors, that was it. Now The New York Times reports in the November 27 edition, “Manufacturers of store brands are finding that shoppers seem more willing to pay more for a quality in-house brand.” Now packaging graphics are as sophisticated as any national brand. Have we come full circle or what?
Happy Holidays!

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