ACTEGA is one of just a few companies whose products have a daily effect upon the lives of consumers. The functionality, integrity and finished look of many of the packaging products which consumers use day in and out can be traced back to ACTEGA, ensuring product safety and performance. Jim Zawicki and William Allen at ACTEGA North America offer an instructive insight into how the company's offering has become fundamental for safe product performance as well as significantly enhancing shelf appeal.
As a division of ALTANA, how is ACTEGA distinguished from other divisions?
The ACTEGA division is expert in the development and production of specialty coatings, sealants, inks and adhesives for both the rigid and flexible packaging industries, as well as the graphic arts. Within ACTEGA, we are several companies which work together in order to supply the market, and are the world's leading supplier of sealants for closures and compounds for cans, in the packaging industry.
The North American market is very significant for ACTEGA, which is the reason for our division - specifically to deal with that geographical area and ensure that it is well serviced.
ALTANA, the parent company, is one of the most successful and innovative chemical groups in the world for the development and production of high quality, innovative specialty chemicals. Its other divisions are BYK, ECKART and ELANTAS.
What markets does ACTEGA North America serve?
While our products can be and are indeed used in many markets, our specialism is the food industry, targeting food packaging customers which serve that market. What makes our company stand out is the way in which we tailor each and every service according to the customer's product requirements. This is a complicated process as we are required to be fully informed with the latest requirements of the FDA, for example, in addition to maximizing the product's shelf appeal.
One of the significant benefits of ACTEGA for its customers is the way in which complementary products are available in order to service packaging. It has become increasingly common for packaging manufacturers to diversify their offering now, or work in conjunction with preferred partners, for example a jar company working with a cap company to offer a complete packaging concept.
The last 2 years has seen ACTEGA focus significantly towards enhanced shelf appeal of products, and some of our new product offering is specifically aligned with that.
How do ACTEGA's divisions work together?
Because ACTEGA is organized by market segments, closures, rigid packaging, paperboard packaging, label, etc, the divisions work together a lot as the products complement one another in that market segment.
As an example, an exterior coating is produced at one location, collars and adhesive lacquer coatings at another, while oxygen scavenging and barrier compounds are manufactured in another. At ACTEGA, we work together for the entire package. So, if a company needs coatings for their wine pack, for example, we can provide the entire complement.
ACTEGA's products are designed to function and adhere to the other product. It works the same for all the packaging - closures, glass jars, continuous thread caps. Food cans too, we have the compounds to marry the can end to the can, and the adhesive lacquer which adheres to the compound. It's a one-stop-shop concept, in the provision of all the products and compounds that are required for that entire pack.
In the case of a 6-pack of beer, we do the coatings for the entire package - the beer bottle, crown, label and the carton. Brands can talk to ACTEGA and get everything they need for their entire packaging concept.
How does ACTEGA enhance the shelf appeal of food packaging?
In 2016, ACTEGA brought MotionCoat™ to the market, a UV coating which creates a motion-like image on the surface of the pack so that the image seems to be moving. MotionCoat benefits from some very significant features to anything vaguely similar available on the market. It does not require specialized software, and the motion effect can be printed at normal press speeds on both flexo- and lithographic print applications.
MotionCoat has been quickly adopted by the market as a way of giving products a significant visual enhancement. The finished effect depends upon the material used and since the product was launched, the technology has been adapted in order to work with different substrates such as paper or plastic and is ideal for both food and non-food markets such as cosmetics.
This particular coating is actually done during the printing process - no extra embossing is required to create the special effect look!
Another very significant development for ACTEGA are haptic coatings which have been introduced to the market more recently. The haptic finishes have taken the pet food market in particular by storm as the food packaging benefits the feel of the pet!
Coatings have traditionally had a visual function for packaging and in recent years, have also offered benefits of enhanced protection or performance. What is special about haptic coatings is that they offer multi-sensory marketing communications, compelling the consumer on many levels.
Consider an aisle of pet food pouches and one range of pouches actually feels like Fluffy the cat when the consumer picks up a pouch of cat food. That's very emotive communication, touching the consumer on the subconscious level. It's also an excellent means of differentiation for brands and in the pet food and food packaging sectors, it is a new feature which is really expected to grow.
Haptic coatings enable a product or its packaging to feel the way it looks, and ACTEGA has various haptic offerings including Soft Touch with its velvety feel or Dune Touch with a gritty feel. Imagine a pack of salty snacks whereby the pack feels gritty to the touch like the sea salt on the snack feels to the tongue. This is already available on the market from ACTEGA. ACTEGA's haptic coatings are benefiting packaging across the spectrum for products - wine caps, shaving cream aerosols, playing or collector cards and more, giving them that special edge of differentiation.
In addition to attractive appearance on various substrates, functionality is also improved, such as higher chemical resistance, whereby the shelf life of the product is extended!
How does ACTEGA develop its products?
One of the principal benefits of ACTEGA's products is that they are developed specifically according to customer's needs. The company is incredibly specialized and the principal work is on customized projects. Food brands are our target market, particularly in North America.
ACTEGA is very customer oriented. We work hand-in-hand with our customer's product development teams in order to create exactly what is needed for the perfect finish. By knowing the production line specs, we therefore know the substrate that will be applied to, the processing method, products for which resistance is required, etc. Equally, application, legal and safety requirements must all be taken into full consideration.
The process is very scientific and ACTEGA's significant worldwide experience can be applied in order to develop new technology and opportunities. Since ACTEGA is involved in many markets, technologies can be transferred from one market to another. For example, catalog production technology has opened up new opportunities for flexible packaging. Industrial applications such as technology used in electric motor linings has benefited monobloc aerosol packaging applications to protect the metal from aggressive product formulations.
What type of packaging benefits ACTEGA's products?
In the North American food packaging industry, ACTEGA's products are used across the board - yogurt labels, food and pet-food pouches, single-use condiments, beer crowns, soup and food cans, and more. Our customers include both local and global brand name food companies.
How does ACTEGA ensure consumer safety?
In addition to working so closely with its customers, ACTEGA has a dedicated team that stays up-to-date with the US FDA regulations and the equivalent regulatory bodies in other geographical regions. This team keeps our customers aware of industrial updates as they become available, with regulatory reviews sometimes published multiple times in a day as changes are implemented.
Worldwide regulations can make ACTEGA's work seem restrictive, but the company meets the challenge head-on as it brings new technologies to the table. As new products enhance performance and benefit shelf appeal, these restrictions actually help ACTEGA get more creative with products that have already been approved and qualified.
Pictured: Jim Zawicki, ACTEGA North America