19 Mar 2021 18:40 IST

UFlex, the complete package

The packaging company’s key to success lies in its ability to anticipate customer needs and provide handy solutions

In May 2020, in collaboration with IIT Delhi, UFlex developed a four-layered PPE coverall ‘Flex Protect’ with an antimicrobial coating. This was approved for use by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) of India for the frontline workers. For an organisation that continued without interruption even through a pandemic, this was just another way of reaffirming its commitment to the customer to be ‘a part of your daily life.’

 

Ashok Chaturvedi, Founder, UFlex

 

 

 

The founder of UFlex Ltd, Ashok Chaturvedi, is known as the father of the flexible packaging industry in India. A first-generation entrepreneur, he started with a small manufacturing unit in 1983, which manufactured sachets and pouches for products such as shampoos, mouth fresheners, and candy.

The company was incorporated in 1988 as Flex Industries Ltd. It became UFlex Ltd in 2006.The very next year, a new plant was set up at Noida. Over the next decade, the company’s first two BOPET (Biaxially Oriented Polyethylene Terephthalate) and BOPP (Biaxially Oriented Polypropylene) packaging film lines were commissioned here. Another plant was set up at Malanpur, Madhya Pradesh, for manufacturing PET Chips in 1998.

Success philosophy

The following years saw the company foraying into metalliser and CPP packaging even as it grew in strength. In 2007, it set up a flexible packaging and holography unit at Jammu. The company launched manufacturing units in other countries such as Dubai, Mexico, Egypt, Poland, the US, and recently — Moscow.

Its latest venture is an aseptic liquid packaging plant commissioned in Sanand, Gujarat. Today, UFlex straddles the fields of packaging films, flexible packaging, aseptic liquid packaging, chemicals, engineering, cylinders and holography.

The company is said to have a simple philosophy for success: anticipating all customer needs — present and future — and providing tailor-made solutions for the same. This goes much beyond the packaging guidelines of containment integrity, preservation, and brand identification. For example, the zip pouch — a hygienic storage solution that is impossible to live without today — was actually created to meet the evolving dietary habits of Indians. That it provides a handy solution for many other needs is a thought-out extension of the innovation.

Other firsts from the company reportedly include electronic engraving systems, holographic films, UV LED ink and heat-seal soap wrappers in India. UFlex has also launched innovative packaging products like waterless internet flower packaging, FlexGreen ink, an easy-scoop-lock-tight pitcher bag that dispenses controlled portions of products packed inside, and aseptic holographic cartons created for juice brand Fresca by UFlex subsidiary Asepto.

Steady growth

The brand dominates the FMCG sector in India to a formidable extent. UFlex is present everywhere — in the rice, cereals, oils, and flours that need to be cooked; ready-to-eat snacks and foods; cosmetics, soaps, and shampoos; household cleaners; dairy items and frozen foods; pet foods, pharmaceuticals, automotive components, and engineering products. It has even developed Specialised Satellite Thermal Radiation Insulation Film for the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).

In fact, it is said that UFlex is the ‘only vertically integrated manufacturing unit in the world to have mastered all packaging related competencies and technologies.’ Its manufacturing units are ISO 9001, 14001 and HACCP certified. Its products are FDA-approved. Plans are afoot to set up a new greenfield plant at Karnataka.

Its list of clients across 140 countries comprises leading names like Godrej, Haldiram, Amul, Agrotech Foods, Olam Agro, Tata Tea, Tata Chemicals, Tata Global, Heinz, Henkel, Britannia, Nestle, Coca Cola, Johnson & Johnson, P & G, L’ Oreal, ITC and the Unilever Group. Though it does not advertise, it participates in events such as Packplus 2017, Labelexpo India 2018, and Indiaplast 2019 to showcase its range of innovations.

 

 

 

 

UFlex’ turnover (standalone) for 2019-20 was about ₹4,150 crore. The turnover for all units — including those abroad — was about ₹7,400 crore.

Green packaging

The brand’s CSR activity covers education, village ecosystem restoration, disaster management, and sports for children from the vulnerable sections of society. It is noteworthy that UFlex has won the Asia Responsible Entrepreneurship Award 2016 under the Social Empowerment category for its ‘Sports for Growth’ initiative, which covers football and cricket, and offers scholarships. The programme also sensitises children and youth against drugs and substance abuse.

In the packaging industry, the expiry of shelf life is a major cause of wastage and the company has taken steps to reduce toxicity, minimise emissions, and encourage recycling through the introduction of green packaging. Conservation of natural resources through rainwater harvesting and tree plantation; recycling of multilayer plastic (MLP) waste into granules to make other products such as flower pots, road dividers, and dustbins ; fuel conversion from plastic waste; reprocessing of plastic waste into 100 per cent biodegradable biomass and converting plastic waste into 100 per cent Green Film Asclepius are the steps taken to reduce UFlex’s carbon footprint.

 

 

 

 

 

 

UFlex has won a slew of awards not just for its environmental sustainability efforts, but also for occupational health and safety, packaging excellence, and innovation. It has figured in both the Business Superbrand and Consumer Superbrand lists, won the Plexconcil Export award several times, been rated Asia’s Most Trusted Brand, been named World’s Greatest Brand 2015 — Asia and GCC, been awarded the Gold and Silver Awards by Flexible Packaging Association (FPA) in 2017 and become a part of the Dun & Bradstreet Global Database.