“Our goal is to provide customer-centric packaging & bridge market gaps”

India is experiencing a significant uptick in demand for packaging, driven by rapid expansion in consumer markets, particularly in processed food and pharmaceutical industries. It is anticipated that the packaging market will grow to a size of US$ 142.56 billion by 2029, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 11.06%. In recent years, the industry has emerged as a pivotal force in technology and innovation, impacting various manufacturing sectors.

Nichrome Integrated Packaging Solutions has been a pioneer in next-generation packaging technologies ever since they developed India’s first indigenous milk packaging machine in 1977. India Business and Trade recently caught up with Parag Patwardhan, Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Nichrome, to delve into the company’s competitive strategies, innovations, and its plans for expanding into global markets.


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IBT: What strategies does your company employ to maintain a competitive edge in the realm of next-generation packaging technologies?

Parag Patwardhan:  We are pioneers in packaging machines in India. The first packaging machine was built and dispatched to the market 45 years ago. Therefore, we have a deep understanding of the market’s pulse. Our approach is simple, we talk to customers, understand their needs, and then develop products tailored to their requirements, filling gaps not currently addressed in India. We aim to provide import substitutes. Thus, when discussing competitive edge, you can term this as such because we offer technology on par with overseas and imported technology, along with competitive pricing and comprehensive lifecycle support.

IBT: Could you provide notable instances of innovative packaging solutions your company has introduced?

Parag Patwardhan: When traveling abroad, we often encounter innovative packaging styles, inspiring them to replicate these approaches in their Indian factories. One such example is the introduction of liquid milk and edible oil, which are already available in India, but now being packed into monolayer pouches for easier recycling. Monolayer packaging ensures simplicity in the recycling process. Collaborating with a company specializing in manufacturing biodegradable films, we are pioneering the use of biodegradable film technology for packaging liquids, facilitating their decomposition in natural conditions without additional effort. This innovative approach extends to products like atta (flour) for companies like ITC, aligning with their commitment to both environmental sustainability and consumer satisfaction. By offering these innovative packaging solutions, we strive to maintain a balance with nature.

IBT: In what ways does your profound expertise in the field enhance the value proposition for your clients, particularly those representing diverse sectors?

Parag Patwardhan: When discussing packaging machines, multiple partners are available, as technology providers from China, Europe, and India offer their services. However, purchasers typically buy machines for their lifetime, rather than replacing them every one or two years. They may increase capacity as their needs grow, but not necessarily replace existing production lines. Consider the example of packing sugar: when a consumer demands 1 kg, they expect exactly that amount, not 1 kg and 50 grams. This underscores the importance of weight accuracy in the value proposition. At Nichrome, for instance, we focus on weight accuracy and film wastage reduction in our technology offerings. We assure customers of minimal weight variation and address film wastage through extensive research and development investments. This commitment aims to provide customers with value and efficiency in our packaging processes.

IBT: What distinguishes your manufacturing prowess in packaging systems from that of your industry counterparts?

Parag Patwardhan: Yes, I would approach this question quite differently. It’s not just about our manufacturing capabilities; it’s about the confidence our customers have in us. This confidence stems from our reliability and our reputation in the market. As I mentioned earlier, our legacy and leadership position in the market have built trust in the Nichrome brand. Customers trust us not only for our manufacturing expertise but also for our deep understanding of their needs and the tailored solutions we provide. This sets us apart from our competitors.

It’s not only about meeting customers’ known requirements; it’s about understanding their unspoken needs and providing solutions they may not even realize they need. For instance, when a customer is purchasing technology for the first time, they may not know all the questions to ask based on their requirements. With our experience, we can educate them and highlight the differentiation and added value that Nichrome offers. This approach is consultative rather than purely transactional.

While there’s no guarantee that the customer will ultimately choose us, we believe it’s our responsibility as industry leaders to provide this level of guidance and insight. Whether they choose Nichrome or a competitor, we aim to ensure they make an informed decision, thereby solidifying our reputation and leaving a lasting impression in the industry.

IBT: How do you customize your packaging solutions to cater to the distinct requirements of both multinational corporations and small-scale enterprises?

Parag Patwardhan:  Yeah, so this is actually, you could say, an evolution of the industry because when we talk about multinational corporations and when we talk about small-scale enterprises, packaging becomes the need of the hour. Especially after COVID, we’ve seen that virtually everything comes packaged. Often, what we observe with multinational corporations is that their co-packers are small-scale enterprises because sometimes multinationals prefer outsourcing. While not always, sometimes they do prefer this approach. This entails working with multinationals while also collaborating with their smaller partners, the small-scale enterprises.

When discussing multinationals and packaging solutions, they typically have departments and expertise available. In such cases, providing customization or solutions to them becomes relatively straightforward. However, when dealing with small-scale enterprises, we primarily need to educate them about their requirements and how customization can add value.

Let me illustrate with an example. It’s not merely about the packaging machine itself. After this interaction, you may understand what a packaging machine is. However, when it comes to packing sugar into a packaging machine, it’s not just about the machine; it involves various steps such as storage, sieving, transportation, and conveying. Once we’ve packed the sugar into our machine, it facilitates end-of-line automation, providing an end-to-end packaging solution. Sometimes, we refer to this as customization because it depends on the value proposition the customer is seeking, their budget, space availability, and sometimes time constraints.

We package all these elements together and demonstrate how Nichrome can be a suitable partner for both small-scale enterprises and multinational corporations at every step of the value proposition and value chain.

IBT: Can you elaborate on the mechanisms through which your sales and service infrastructure facilitates seamless support for customers spanning various regions, including those situated in India and other global markets?

Parag Patwardhan:  When discussing Nichrome, we view any customer, whether existing or new, as a partner. It’s not merely a seller-customer relationship; it’s a partnership for their business and, therefore, their enterprises as well. We believe in lifecycle support – not just providing one-time assistance, but continuous support throughout the lifecycle of the technology. Nobody invests in technology to leave it idle. Even when the technology is idle, we ensure they receive support from their partner.

To ensure this support, we have established a pan-India network with offices in all four metro cities and semi-metros like Bangalore, Hyderabad, and Ahmedabad, guaranteeing 24/7 service and parts availability. Globally, we engage with various channels, which proved vital during COVID when travel restrictions made physical support challenging. Through our channels, we were able to provide the necessary assistance, ensuring our presence on the ground.

With Industry 4.0, machines need to be smart, and so does our technology. Every solution we offer incorporates Industry 4.0 principles, enabling our technicians and experts to remotely control and resolve issues from anywhere in the world. This ensures that even while sitting in our office or factory in India, we can troubleshoot problems in Africa, Australia, or Canada. We maintain the human interface while continually upgrading our technology to provide comprehensive support. We refer to this approach as 360-degree support, available 24/7.

IBT: How have you expanded your international market presence over the years, and how do you see the role of trade fairs in general and Indusfoodtech in particular?

Parag Patwardhan: During COVID, we were actually, you could say, struggling to have customer interface. Regardless, when discussing AI or virtual reality meetings, business occurs between humans, not machines. For such interactions, we need face-to-face interfaces. These encounters not only provide opportunities to meet different customers and buyers but also facilitate cultural exchanges.

Attending international fairs offers insights into diverse cultural habits and consumption patterns. Therefore, it’s essential to have such platforms where buyers and sellers can interact, understand each other, and contribute to boosting the economy. While online solutions were necessary, once restrictions are lifted, we should actively participate in and organize maximum such events worldwide.

IBT: How can India build a robust ecosystem for the food processing technology industry? How do you see the future of the industry in the coming years?

Parag Patwardhan:  India is leading the world due to its substantial population, with almost one-fifth or, you could say, one-sixth of the global population residing within its borders. With increasing global connectivity, we have insight into the worldwide economy and cultures. Leveraging our understanding and expertise, along with the programs offered by our colleges and institutes, India can certainly contribute significantly to the food processing industry, which is poised for growth.

Allow me to provide some classic examples: liquid milk and edible oil, where India is driving global trends. The substantial infrastructure investments in these sectors, coupled with the widespread presence of food processing industries across India and the engineering support provided for global infrastructure, highlight the pivotal role India plays in the global food processing industry.

Therefore, the future of India and its role in the global food processing industry are undeniably significant.

Parag Patwardhan, VP, Sales and Marketing

Parag Patwardhan heads the Global Sales and Marketing function at Nichrome India. He is responsible for developing the strategic sales plans based on company goals to promote sales growth and customer satisfaction for the organization. Highly skilled with 25 years’ experience in handling sales & marketing for global conglomerates. He is an adaptable leader with the ability to work independently, and develop opportunities that further establish organizational goals.

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