The past year has been exciting for Huhtamaki-PPL Managing Director Dr Arup Basu. The company is responsible for packaging food, home and personal care products, and has benefited from the significant growth in consumer demand in recent times.

“There has been significant growth in the entire fast-moving consumer goods space,” Arup explains. “It’s driving the migration from buying loose, unpacked products to buying packed products with a better, longer shelf life. It’s essentially a movement along the prosperity curve.”

India is one of the fastest-growing economies in the world. Arup sees this as an opportunity to take part in a burgeoning, highly populated ecosystem. “At the end of the day, everyone is consuming, no matter what income bracket they’re in. To be a part of this billion-consumer market is fascinating.”

“To be a part of this billion-consumer market is fascinating.”

Arup believes the products Huhtamaki-PPL packs define the aspiration and growth ambitions of the country. “The average age of the population is quite low, at 29 years, so we’re able to experience this economic growth and expansion hands-on.”

Developing in-house talent

As a leader, Arup takes pride in identifying talent and giving his people greater responsibilities. As the company continues to grow and focus on sustainability, it has offered new opportunities and encouraged its team to “fulfil their professional ambition and make their work mission come true”.

“The workforce here is very value-conscious and mission-driven,” Arup says.

“Given the support of our parent, Huhtamaki Oyj, we can add a bigger dimension to the role – helping the environment, reducing food wastage and serving a key consumer need in a better way – making it far more meaningful.

It’s great to see the team get excited about the things that they wanted to do and now get to.”

Above all, the company focuses on sustainability and customer-centricity.

“Everything we do – from setting up an office to responding to cycle times, to the quality of the product that we give or the quality and time limits of the response – is about taking care of our customers and responding to them in a far more effective way than we have done in the past.”

Promoting environmental upsides

Arup also believes people should be made more aware that flexible packaging is about collection and post-consumer use. In other words, it is about recycling, as opposed to thinking that a particular mode of packaging is fundamentally bad for the environment.

“I think as this information is made more public, and people understand it more, they will realise that the way to help the environment is to push FMCG companies to pack more of their goods in flexible packaging rather than rigid packaging,” he explains.

There has certainly been an increased emphasis on the detrimental use of plastic packaging, which Arup sees as a positive change. He is passionate about being part of the solution around environmental issues and sustainability, and though it is still early days, the company is taking small steps to ensure it finds the best solutions for India.

“I think it’s a move in the right direction, in terms of the emphasis on the environment,” he says. “It’s a new domain for me to learn – new sciences, new technologies – and I think that’s the other aspect that I find interesting.

We can play an active role in shaping the future of our country – the way we consume and the way
we live – and that’s a compelling agenda.”

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