Brand Integrity- It's Your Job

Bad news sells! You don't need to buy ad space during prime time, no media events, no sponsorship. Bad news has its own network to spread at a devastatingly fast pace.

It takes decades to build a good, trusted brand and all it takes is one indiscretion, that one moment when your eye is off the ball, to bring the brand down. Corporate history is replete with incidences, where infractions, big or small have destroyed brand and companies. From oversight in safety mechanisms to toxic elements in consumables or baby toys, such instances have the potential to change the perception for the entire industry and in some cases, even countries - for worse.

What gives companies even lesser time to respond is the advent of social media, which gives brand owners less than a few hours to address what went wrong or devise how to deal with bad publicity. The situation further worsens when the brand involved relates to food and health products.

If we study the why's and how's of these derelictions, often we'll discover that someone, somewhere in the ecosystem, forgot the purpose that the brand stood for. The reason could be anything from pricing pressures, to unrealistic deadlines or just a plain simple 'I don't care' attitude.

While this one side of the industry that makes news, the other side is the passionate effort that the chemical industry is putting to make affordable, safer and sustainable solutions. It is tirelessly giving us avenues to curtail operational costs and is innovating planet and people friendly solutions.

The industry is therefore, at a stage of unprecedented growth, which is supplemented by the unquestionable need about everyone's job to maintain 'brand integrity'. The onus to protect the brand's integrity lies across the value chain: the management, blue collar purchase officers, marketing folks and even vendors!

As a masterbatch supplier to the most respected and trusted brands, Alok realizes that the genesis of protecting our customer's brand starts with chemistry!

A masterbatch manufacturer's knowledge of his/ her product chemistry from the initial to latter stages of the product/ service life, is imperative in delivering relevant solutions. With most of the food and consumer brands under a strict and ever changing regulatory regime, the knowledge of the relevant regulations, as well as the ability to test the product accordingly also comes into play. The two most important aspects to be kept in mind formulating masterbatches for the food/ pharmacy or consumer goods industry are:

  • 1. Food and consumer regulations
  • 2. Organoleptics

Food contact: There are a host of regulations that cover various product segments and geographies. It is imperative that the masterbatch formulator be aware of such regulations. Ideally, the masterbatcher should have predictive approach instead of a reactive one. He should ensure compliance in the product chain without being asked to do so. This is a demonstration of his integrity and ownership, towards not just his own business but also his client's!

We, at Alok, often joke that we generate as much record and data as many kilos we sell into the food and consumer goods market. A masterbatch is usually a mix of 10-15 ingredients. We ensure that the records; testing data of each of the ingredients are verified and filed. The DNA file for any consumer goods masterbatch is always up to date.

Heavy metal contamination is an ever prevalent risk. Elements such as lead, mercury etc. are severely damaging to human and animal life forms and can sound a death knell for a brand. Alok employs in house XRF analysis to ensure the raw materials and finished goods are tested for heavy metal presence. To prevent inadvertent use of heavy metal ingredients in food and consumer goods, there are checks and balances built into the ERP system as well as in the production protocol.

Organoleptics: A packaging expert for the food and pharma sector faces several challenges viz., toxicity issues, barrier properties, aesthetics, brand protection, package integrity, organoleptics, and many more. The organoleptic aspect of packaging is one of the most complex problems since it requires in-depth knowledge of all the chemical entities going into the packaging material as well as their reactive and migration behaviour under normal life of the package as well as under extreme cases.

Bulk of the taste and smell issues are caused by reactive interactions between two chemicals (package/package or package/content), or by migration of particles from the package into the content. In order to deal with all such possible interactions, an in depth knowledge of the package and content chemistry is essential. Masterbatches play a significant role in forming organoleptic properties of a plastic package. With numerous and constantly changing product preferences, masterbatch is perhaps the most difficult component to control and comprehend.

Certain critical guidelines that one should follow while formulating a masterbatch for the food/pharma/consumer goods industry are:

  • All organic additives are required to have a narrow molecular weight curve to avoid any low molecular weight fraction that can cause volatilities or migration problems.
  • All animal based additives, oils, lubricants should be switched to vegetable based.
  • During the pigment selection process any pigment based on sulphur phosphorus or chloride chemistry should be avoided. Pigments should be selected considering their possible interaction with intentional or unintentional additives present in the package as well as the contents.
  • Certain chemical functional group known to aggravate poor organoleptic properties. These include, but are not limited to, Amides, Amines, Hydroxyls& Esters. Care is taken to eliminate these at formulation stage itself.

Today, I can say with pride that everyone at Alok, across management and floor worker is aware of how small slips can lead to big issues. We work incessantly and tirelessly to ensure that we always demonstrate our integrity towards the work we do and the clients and consumers we serve.

#Alok #Food #FoodPackaging #Organoleptics #Safety #Pharmaceuticals #Packaging