VPK Group looks back close to nine decades of history, providing the current management and staff with plenty of experience in this business. The company is present with production facilities all over Europe, offering economic and ecological packaging solutions to its customers.
As Bart Dobbelaere, the Managing Director at VPK Packaging Salonta in Romania, also responsible for the Hungarian market, highlights to Diplomacy&Trade that VPK started in Belgium in 1935 as a family business with the production of paper. “That is where we have our roots and that is where a family company developed into an international packaging supplier with more than 6.500 committed employees spread over 70 plants in more than twenty countries. What is the extra value of our group? The fact that the company has remained in the hands of the family, where the tradition has been handed down through generations, allows the group to focus on value creation on the long term. Moreover, VPK’s entrepreneurial spirit remained and is present in every fiber of our company. All around the world, our people are given full responsibility and trust, empowered to run our business as if it was their own as taking ownership triggers initiative. It’s how we attract talent and manage to keep it, despite the fact that we have evolved from a family business into a powerful, privately-owned multinational. Our intrinsic level of accountability is what makes us so great to work for.”
The market in Hungary and Romania
When talking about the packaging market in Hungary and Romania, Bart Dobbelaere indicates that these are two completely different markets in terms of behavior, customers, prices, price setting, etc. “The Hungarian market is more saturated and companies understand the packaging business in general better and realize what value packaging can create for them through the entire supply chain. In Romania, there is an overcapacity of production where competition, especially the ones with new capacity, are challenging the price levels and this unfortunately is detrimental to the service level and/or constant quality in many cases. At VPK Packaging, it is our challenge to explain to the customer that not only the final price as such is important, but also the total cost of using our packaging through their supply chain.”
VPK Group has a long tradition of sustainable entrepreneurship. “We have always involved our stakeholders in this journey and consistently applied best practices to optimize the use of resources such as raw materials, energy and water, while reducing emissions, effluent and waste. We recycle and re-use almost everything. We go full circle. Thoughtfully investing in patient capital, we outperform and challenge the market with our long-term thinking. Sustainable growth also means well-considered growth. As a reliable partner, we like to involve you in our way of doing business responsibly, by making our mission tangible and even measurable. We’re in it for the long term, and we’ll do it in our way. That’s what makes us great at what we do, the Managing Director explains.
VPK Packaging Salonta has always been committed to quality. Proof of this endeavor is their long track record in quality certifications, including, among others, ISO 9001, ISO 14001 and BRC-IOP (AA grade). “With EcoVadis, we have raised the bar on our commitment to quality, and more particularly sustainability. As the world’s largest and most trusted provider of business sustainability ratings, EcoVadis has helped us translate and document our existing values and good practices regarding Labor and Human Rights, Ethics and Sustainable Procurement more elaborately into our quality management systems. It challenged us in questioning our approach regarding the above-mentioned subjects, allowing us to upgrade the sustainability of our supply chain upstream, as well as downstream. As a result, VPK Packaging Salonta received in 2021 the EcoVadis gold medal rating,” he adds.
The VPK plant in Salonta has six people in their TCC (Technical Competence Center) creating smart and sustainable packaging solutions and revising existing packaging to be more sustainable. Moreover, there is a platform and a continuous coordinated exchange of information over the group for this purpose.
Bart Dobbelaere notes that recently, the steep cost increase of raw materials, energy price increases and others have pushed the customers even more to new solutions. “We go to the customers with our technical competence officers and we check through their supply chain together what we can do in terms of packaging. That can vary from reducing costs by using lighter types of paper, reducing printing surfaces or number of colors to completely rethinking the packaging.”
E-commerce as driving force
In logistics, the coronavirus pandemic resulted in a growing business with the increasing role of e-commerce. As to how – and how much – it affected the packaging business, the Managing Director states that “the epidemic had a huge impact in the short term. From one month to the other, business went down by as much as 50%. Then, it started to come back over the next two-three months with e-commerce being the big driving force there. Of course, e-commerce means more consumption and this higher demand compensated somehow for the losses suffered due to the pandemic situation. In the past for example, delivering 60 books to a bookstore meant using one box, while delivering 60 books to 60 different addresses means 60 smaller boxes. All this has its challenges including that of sustainability. Right now, next to managing the increasing costs, the challenge for our packaging business is to find the right solutions for every type of e-commerce business, reducing as much as possible the carbon footprint.”
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