GW: What can you tell us about FEVE’s new marketing and advocacy strategy that the industry has just launched?
Adeline Farrelly: What’s new? Well our new content and expanding to new audiences will be ‘brand nouveau’! We are building on our successful Friends of Glass foundations and expanding outwards. Our Friends of Glass community has grown incredibly since our launch in 2009 and we reached well over 50 million consumers last year. We also have just expanded Friends of Glass into the US in partnership with the Glass Packaging Institute (GPI). Growing our target audiences also means we are enlarging our content. Expect a lot of talk about our big flagship projects, Close the Glass Loop and the Furnace for the Future. It’s such an exciting story to tell everyone about one of the most important industrial transitions in our history. So no surprise then that our new marketing and advocacy strategy will embrace our next transition to climate neutral production of glass packaging. This means we can offer our customers a sustainable packaging solution now and in the future and we want them to know that. It is also to reassure policy makers that we have a climate neutral and circular production pathway for our sector. They welcome when the industry works with them to achieve climate and environmental goals. We want to convince opinion makers, brands, retailers and the citizens too – who are after all our ultimate customers – of all the efforts being done and ask them to continue to trust in glass as the healthy and reliably sustainable packaging. And by the way as an aside – it’s not the first industrial transition in our 3000 year lifespan but it is among one of the most consequential. For the history buffs we tell our industry’s life story in a very nice short film produced by a UK film producer [search for ‘A line in the sand, FEVE’ on YouTube]. I highly recommend a viewing.
GW: Is the industry’s future on solid foundations and what are the prevailing market conditions?
Adeline Farrelly: Yes, I think so despite the awful year we have just had and the fact this is likely to continue for some time. Everyone is suffering. But we are not doing too badly because our industry is a key partner for the essential EU food, beverage and pharmaceutical sectors as well as cosmetics and perfumery. Current consumer trends on health and wellness awareness are also favourable to glass. Consumers are looking for healthy, hygienic and safe packaging for food and drinks. Glass is benefiting too as the ‘at home’ dining experience is elevated during this pandemic, and where we see people want to go back to trusted brands and materials as a reaction to the anti-plastic sentiment. We are proud and thankful to our employees who work hard to continue to supply the essential sectors during the Covid crisis, and now our pharma packaging producers are all hands on deck to make the vials for the Coronavirus vaccines which must be packed in glass.
Glass continues to be the unquestioned leader in wines and sparkling wines, spirits, beer and cider and it ranks third among packaging materials across all food and beverage sectors, with more than 80 billion bottles, jars and flacons produced each year. If we just take items generally packed in glass, glass has enabled extra EU exports of around €250 billion in 2019. This implies glass containers and items packed in glass drive more additional EU export earnings than plastics, resins and pellets, organic chemicals, or aircraft. It is the preferred packaging material of 91% of European consumers and 51% have declared they buy more products in glass packaging than three years ago. I think that all adds up to a very sound basis to build from.
GW: Mr Aujouannet, as Chairman of FEVE’s Market Place Committee, you have been closely involved in the creation of the European glass container industry’s new communication strategy. What are the key elements of this strategy and how is it aiming to underpin and provide enhanced visibility to the collective efforts being made by the industry in terms of innovation and sustainability?
Arnaud Aujouannet: ‘Future Made Clear’ is a communication platform that addresses brands, retailers, consumers and policy makers in a more integrated way. The common objective is to increase the choice of glass packaging by highlighting the vast benefits of glass to each stakeholder group in a more targeted, more relevant and more impactful way. One common important thread across all audiences is sustainability. This is why we also intend to communicate the glass industry’s extensive sustainability achievements and its pathway into the future. Lastly, we are eager to create collaboration opportunities with interested partners to jointly communicate with consumers.
One perfect illustration of this is the newly created glass hallmark. This is a symbol that visually brings to life the unique benefits of glass: natural ingredients; 100% endlessly recyclable; virtually inert. It is intended to be positioned on jars and bottles to bring awareness of these benefits to every consumer. It also symbolises the sustainability partnership between the glass industry, the food and beverage brands we serve, and any other interested stakeholders.
We will create a one-stop shop website to offer everything people will want to know about glass packaging and the container glass industry. We will regularly host online events to foster discussions, promote innovations and sustainability, and highlight achievements and success stories. And we will continue to inform consumers and encourage them to choose glass as the superior solution from a health and from an environmental perspective, as recycling glass protects natural resources, supports a local circular economy and does not contribute to ocean pollution.
GW: How can the industries along the glass supply chain support the packaging manufacturers in their vision and what is their motivation?
Arnaud Aujouannet: Naturally, the industry’s entire supply and value chain – from raw material suppliers to cullet processors – will benefit if glass containers continue to grow their status as the preferred packaging material of consumers and brands. An entire ecosystem, employing more than 125,000 people throughout Europe depends on the glass packaging market. We are encouraging our supply chain to work abreast with glass manufacturers to address challenges such as optimising the bottle-to-bottle loop, further reducing CO2 emissions and reducing weight.
Any such partner can also help to raise awareness of the industry’s efforts, can demonstrate the progress to customers, policy makers and other stakeholders, and can continue to innovate. We can also collaborate on joint projects and initiatives to promote the sustainability and health aspects of glass. It may be as simple as integrating the glass hallmark on their websites or on other communication channels. It may also be integrating the glass sustainability story into their company narrative, or actively participating in the industry’s regular communications and promotion efforts.
GW: How can leading glass manufacturers such as your company, O-I, benefit from – and amplify – the industry’s communications?
Arnaud Aujouannet: The Future Made Clear strategy provides a compelling framework that perfectly aligns with and complements O-I’s own communication strategy. Glass is a unique material that connects with consumers on many levels – from experiences to sustainability to health. The more we remind consumers of this, and remind them why, the stronger their preference for glass.
Sustainability is about meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. It is more than producing a sustainable product; it is about everyday decisions that impact the world around us. Driven by innovation, we will continue to lead the way to transform our processes, products and our relationships to bring to life our vision for a sustainable future. It is what our customers, consumers and investors increasingly require.
We help customers transform food and beverage brands into icons by building emotional bonds with consumers through the magic of glass packaging. We are passionate about glass’s benefits and we are passionate about inspiring our customers and consumers to join us as glass advocates. O-I is aligned with the Future Made Clear communications through our recent focus on how storytelling, through digital content and social channels, can connect with people emotionally to bring visibility to all the reasons we believe in glass. We’re increasing our voice across digital and social media globally to elevate glass as a transformative, sustainable packaging material.
Image: Adeline Farrelly and Arnaud Aujouannet.