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In The News: Chief Executive Magazine

Stirred But Not Shaken: Tiger Packaging CEO Confronts Plastic’s Image Problem

March 20th, 2019|News|

The Price Isn’t Right. Value Is.

By Peter Horwitz, Tiger Packaging Founder and CEO

In the packaging industry, we often focus on the word “price.”

What’s the best price you can get me on this item? Can you find a lower price?

In the past few years, I’ve tried to remove that word entirely from my discussion with clients. Instead, I use “value.” I believe it better represents our clients’ actual needs. Here are two recent examples:

  • I received an inquiry from a restaurant chain for a wrapped cutlery kit. The chain was displeased with the plastic knife in its current kit. Customers complained it would bend and break while trying to cut a steak – one of the chain’s signature items. I examined a current knife sample and thought it was somewhat flimsy, so I sent it to our lab for testing. The results quickly showed that the knife contained 35 percent more calcium (or filler) than is acceptable – precisely the reason for the current weak product. What a rip-off! For the same ballpark cost, I was able to provide a much sturdier knife in the kit…at a much better value.
  • Then, a contact at one very large fast food chain approached me regarding paper straws – a hot item as a result of public backlash and many cities banning plastic straws. The chain was frustrated with its paper straws, which began disintegrating in soda in less than four minutes. I have a variety of paper straws that last over four hours in soda. I sent the contact samples and he immediately realized the value in the higher quality product.

Our industry is laden with packaging companies that cut corners and deliver subpar products to meet the lowest price. If you’re a buyer or broker, I urge you not to fall into this trap. Always look at the product that will deliver the best value. As Warren Buffett said, “price is what you pay, value is what you get.”

March 19th, 2019|News|

Grasping at Straws?

By Peter Horwitz, Tiger Packaging Founder and CEO

The restaurant business has come to a fork in the road (pun intended.)

As we all know, major cities such as Seattle, New York and Chicago have instituted bans on plastic straws, bags or food containers, and major restaurant chains are following suit. Starbucks announced plans to phase out plastic straws by 2020 and Bon Appetit Management is planning to ban straws at more than 1,000 locations in 33 states. Could the next targets be plastic cutlery, plastic cups, trash bags and soufflé cups? (The U.K. chains Boston Tea Party and Waitrose have already announced complete bans on disposable cups.)

Yet, plastics are a cost-effective material that has become an integral part of any restaurant business. The high usage of disposables in our daily lives is staggering. According to National Geographic, scientists estimate that 500 million plastic straws are used daily, and Earth Day Network states that 500 billion plastic cups are used globally each year.

Tough reality: plastic is with us for life. Whether we like it or not, it will be an essential part of manufacturing.

However, I believe it’s our duty to determine the best way to lessen its impact on the environment. And while it may seem daunting to source new single-use products that comply with regulations, there are ways to navigate this shift to be more environmentally conscious, without negatively impacting your bottom line.

At Tiger Packaging, we identify and source quality alternative products that use less virgin plastic content and more compostable or biodegradable materials. For example, I work with manufacturers that produce straws, cutlery and cups made with PLA (polylactic acid) a bioactive thermoplastic derived from renewable resources such as corn starch, cassava root or sugarcane. Standard PLA is bio-based, compostable, transparent and recyclable.

Recently, I helped a major full-service restaurant brand provide nearly 2.5 million PLA straws to its chains throughout the U.S. I’m also working with a retail chain on replacing its virgin retail handle bags with a printed, recycled plastic bag which contains more than 70 percent PCR (post-consumer repro). It can be a bit tricky – as many biodegradable bags are not fully compostable.

In summary, these bans are not a passing trend and will continue to be a discouraged vice in our society. But, before you start grasping at straws, give me a call. There are a host of environmentally friendly products that you can start incorporating into your restaurant or food service business to help support these global efforts. It takes someone with the knowledge, contacts and logistical capabilities to present you with a full plate of options. (Pun intended.)

February 20th, 2019|News|