The world economy is currently being determined by a number of different factors, which all have an impact on a globally operating company like MULTIVAC. In our discussion with Hans-Joachim Boekstegers, CEO of MULTIVAC, we asked him for his assessment of the current economic situation.
Mr. Boekstegers, what is the trend of new orders at the beginning of the year? And to what extent does the current economic situation influence the business development at MULTIVAC?
ans-Joachim Boekstegers: In 2014, all business areas developed positively at MULTIVAC, and the current order trend is also in line with our expectations. The Ukraine crisis is certainly noticeable due to a decrease in sales in Russia and the Ukraine but we can compensate for this through growth in other regions. We assume that these and other geopolitical crises will affect the business in the current year. But due to the presence of our international sales and service organization, our broad product portfolio and our long-standing customer relationships, we are in very good shape overall.
What trends do you see on the market?
Boekstegers: In general, the issue of resource efficiency is gaining in importance for many of our customers. Through the use of various innovative technologies in our packaging solutions, packaging materials, energy and cooling water can be used very efficiently. At the same time, these contribute to improving the performance of our packaging machines and increasing machine availability. At Anuga FoodTec 2015, we presented several exemplary solutions that enable resource-efficient packaging. In addition, consumer behaviour is influenced by a variety of trends which are also reflected in the packaging industry. These include changes in social and family structures, such as smaller households, increased mobility and increasing employment of women. For example, convenience products and products in portion packs are enjoying great popularity among many consumers.
How can MULTIVAC accommodate this trend?
Boekstegers: To keep the consumption of packaging materials in the production of portion packs to a minimum, efficient packaging procedures are required. Thanks to our innovative die technology and our automation expertise, we can make production of portion packs highly efficient while saving a significant amount of packaging material.
„I WOULD WELCOME IT VERY
MUCH IF A FREE TRADE AGREEMENT
WITH THE UNITED STATES WAS CONCLUDED.“
The transatlantic free trade agreement TTIP between the European Union and the US is currently polarising the public. How do you feel about this topic?
Boekstegers: Free trade always leads to a better and more cost-effective exchange of goods and services. Ultimately, the products are cheaper for both sides – both on the importing and exporting side. Both sides benefit. For this reason, I would welcome it very much if a free trade agreement with the United States was concluded. It would be important that non-tariff trading barriers, such as differing standards, would be dismantled. As a mechanical engineering company, we must take into account a variety of standards in the manufacture of our machines. The result is that the products become more expensive. In general, if we cannot reach an agreement with the US, others will do this as well. The United States has an interest in achieving free trade with all possible regions of the world.
Are the fears of critics regarding lower American standards justified?
Boekstegers: No, take the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States, for example. It sets the highest standards. This is known all over the world. FDA approval is considered the “ultimate” in safety in the food and pharmaceutical industries. For this reason, companies from the corresponding industries seek FDA approval even when they do not want to deliver to the United States. The approval is a seal of quality. The Americans have very high standards here; this is something that does not exist everywhere. The objective should be to define the best standard everywhere, whether it comes from the EU or USA.
What topics is MULTIVAC also dealing with?
Boekstegers: In order to further optimise the availability and delivery times of our spare parts, we are currently investing in the construction of a new distribution centre at our headquarters in Wolfertschwenden. This will be completed by the end of the year and is the first step in the restructuring of our logistics concept. Other centres in other regions are being planned. In addition, we are committed to investing in the global expansion of our sales and service organisation, which already includes more than 2,500 employees. We are also equipping our sales companies with local capacities for the overhaul of wearing parts such as heating and sealing plates, thus improving our services and availability for our customers locally.