Choosing a well-equipped adhesive supplier to partner with brand owners can be challenging. Several local and international suppliers claim to offer distinct advantages. Global player H.B. Fuller offers customers focused, strategic investment plans to expand its packaging adhesives business on the African continent.
Market intelligence indicates that international brands are highly valued in Africa, but that local manufacturing and technical capabilities are preferred. ‘This trend is evidenced by the growing number of multinational businesses now operating on the continent,’ says Tom Meek, H.B. Fuller’s business director, Africa. ‘While many of these companies value global adhesive expertise, they also want their supplier to understand the specific needs and respond to local requirements.
‘At H.B. Fuller, we have the global reach and local expertise to meet this growing demand, particularly for customers in the packaging market. We are committed to partnering with durable and consumer packaged goods customers across the region to support their success with the latest, high-performance adhesive solutions and on-the-ground technical support.’
Investing in Africa
Continental’s former co-owner Alfred Lenana, serves as managing director of the Kenya business. With more than 35 years’ experience and leadership in the adhesive industry, he brings a deep understanding of supply chain requirements and customer challenges.
‘These are exciting times. We plan to boost H.B. Fuller’s African packaging adhesive business by delivering significant growth year-on-year,’ Lenana explains. ‘There has been substantial investment in Nairobi and at our hot melt adhesive manufacturing facility in Cairo, Egypt. Our supply chain is being strengthened to reach all areas of the African continent with a comprehensive range of world-class adhesive solutions. Our sales and technical service network is well established in Africa. We are committed to expanding our local capabilities with more specialists and new distribution partners. Partnering with a range of adhesive distributors who share our passion for packaging and service standards is a priority for us. ’
Meek adds, ‘We are focused on delivering our products and services to food and beverage (F&B) manufacturers and to collaborating with key suppliers of packaging materials and process equipment. Our specialised packaging adhesive solutions range from aqueous and hot melt labelling to hot melts used in end-of-line operations. It also includes a full range of flexible packaging products.’
Global and local innovation
The consumer market in Africa is constantly changing. Brand owners and packaging manufacturers are leveraging the latest adhesive technologies to meet new and rapidly changing needs.
‘H.B. Fuller’s product development activities not only keep us at the forefront of adhesive technology, but also ensure our solutions are tailored to the needs of each customer application. Keeping a customer’s attractive, branded package and its contents intact, is typical of the difference our adhesives are making to the African packaging market,’ Meek explains.
The company has set up centres of excellence around the world. This will encourage collaboration in finding new products, methods and technologies. The company draws together adhesive experts from a number of regions and fields. We provide them with replica production environments and facilities designed to enable knowledge sharing and innovation. The recently opened Lüneburg Adhesive Academy in Germany is a prime example of H.B. Fuller’s investment and focus on adhesive innovation.
In Africa, new production equipment is being installed at the Nairobi facility. This will increase capacity and enhance product consistency in local adhesive manufacturing. Additional testing equipment also has been installed to support technical service. This work includes adapting products for specific local needs and collaborating on site at customers’ premises to fine-tune application methods.
Responding to market trends
‘One of the first things we recognise about the African market is the effect of this continent’s fast-growing population,’ Meek observes. ‘The challenge applies especially to the fast-moving consumer goods sector. Demand for packaged food, alcoholic drinks, water and soft drinks has been building for some time, and experts are forecasting continued growth.’
It has been predicted the number of people under the age of 20 will rise from the current 622 million to over one billion by 2055. Brand owners and suppliers are very conscious about the influence packaging can have on this key demographic. What makes a package attractive? The right adhesive choice can support almost limitless shape, structure, style and functionality.
Meek adds, ‘Many of the African market’s trends and challenges relate in some way to the demand from consumers and governments for greater sustainability. Our response to those needs can be the key to improved profits and competitiveness.
‘Reducing waste, using less energy and improving efficiencies makes great economic and environmental sense. We support step-change improvements and critical breakthroughs, such as bonding sustainable materials reliably. Lowering adhesive application temperatures and reducing adhesive consumption are critical areas for us. We produce state-of-the-art laminating adhesives for efficient creation of flexible packaging, which can enable dramatic reductions in both material consumption and food waste.’
Calling all brewers
The brewery industry is thriving. H.B. Fuller’s bottle labelling products, such as its Swifttak range of water-based adhesives, is designed to uphold the beverage manufacturer’s brand image with high resistance to condensation and ice water. This ensures that bottle labels remain in place. Despite impressive bonding performance, Swifttak adhesives also allow the label to be removed easily in breweries’ bottle recycling processes.
‘The ability to separate labels from glass bottles before re-entering the filling and labelling processes is critical to meeting productivity and quality requirements. In Africa, empty bottles are typically returned for re-use rather than being thrown away,’ says Meek. ‘We invite every brewery to contact us so we can discuss their specific challenges and develop the ideal solution for them.’
Environmentally conscious packaging
African consumers’ environmental consciousness is reflected in the upturn in use of recyclable PET bottles, for water and soft drinks. Box manufacturers are also using more renewable and biodegradable materials. These materials can be difficult to bond. H.B. Fuller solves this challenge with products from its Avantra premium hot melt adhesive range. This is specifically formulated to hold together lightweight boards with difficult-to-bond surfaces.
In applications where use of boards with a high proportion of recycled content is appropriate, Advantra solutions again bond effectively. It keeps boxes securely closed throughout their journey from the packing line through to wholesale and retail channels.
The Advantra range comprises low application temperature hot melt adhesives that require less heat to apply and are very energy efficient. These adhesives can be applied at temperatures as low as 100°C to 110°C. This makes a marked difference in energy usage compared to conventional 180°C technology.
Advantra hot melt adhesives are designed to run cleanly in end-of-line packaging machinery and deliver higher quality packaging. The environment and manufacturers’ bottom line benefit from lower adhesive consumption and less waste in terms of time, effort and materials. Lines can be sped up for greater productivity. The right adhesive choice can have a positive impact on productive uptime, likely resulting in increased sales for the producer.
Connecting what matters
Meek concludes, ‘These are just a few of the ways in which we are helping African food and beverage businesses stay ahead in the face of intensifying competition and constant change. In doing so, we are delivering on our “connecting what matters” brand promise by linking customers to a world of adhesive expertise and responsive local support.’