ontzi | BASQUE FOOD PACKAGING INNOVATION HUB, the innovation community that connects Basque food companies with the best international packaging solutions, is born

DONOSTIA 10-10-23. In response to the need for companies in the Basque food chain to find new packaging solutions that allow them to adapt competitively to recent environmental regulations and a growing social demand, ontzi | BASQUE FOOD PACKAGING INNOVATION HUB was created. This is an open innovation community where Basque food companies can register, present their challenges in this field and interact with materials and capital goods companies, knowledge agents, technology centers, clusters, start-ups and individuals from all over the world, who will present them with the most suitable solutions for each case.

ontzi was presented this Tuesday at an event held in Donostia-San Sebastián, which brought together professionals from both sectors, as well as institutional representatives. Driven by
Elika Fundazioa
The platform is part of the ENVAS3S project initiatives, which arises from the needs expressed by food companies within the RIS3 Euskadi Smart Specialization Strategy. The project is promoted and financed by the Basque Government through the Innovation Fund 2023. Through the platform, several ecosystems are connected, giving rise to potential projects and synergies that will enable progress in the safety, sustainability and competitiveness of the food and beverages produced in the Basque Country.

The project counts on the collaboration of expert agents such as the technological center Itenewhich will provide technical advice; Packnet (Spanish Packaging Technology Platform), which will be in charge of the search for solutions; IDOMwho will lead the design of potential projects; C4Ewhich will prepare reports on trends and inspiring good practices; and Across The Shopperresponsible for conducting studies on consumers’ perception of packaging.

In the introduction to the conference, the Director of Quality and Food Industries of the Basque Government, Raul Perez Iratxeta, stressed that “this project is supported by the Innovation Fund 2023, which favors actions, initiatives and projects considered key to the development of the Basque Country.

For his part, the Director of BASQUE FOOD CLUSTER -the association that brings together more than 130 companies and organizations of the Basque food chain-, Jon Ander Egañaexplained that, through the collaborations that arise from the community, he will ontziThe aim is to generate a network that involves the most advanced and relevant agents in the field of food packaging, in order to identify the best performing solutions and bring them closer to Basque companies. “Collaborative innovation will be essential to achieve safe, technically sustainable and competitively priced solutions,” he said.

Arantza MadariagaDirector of Elika, the foundation with which the Basque Government promotes the improvement of food safety, recalled the importance of packaging in preserving food safety and quality throughout the food chain, including the home, since packaging also contributes to extending the shelf life of products, thus reducing waste. However, he pointed out that, “being necessary to offer quality products, packaging must be increasingly sustainable and comply with current and future legislation”.


ontzi, a competitive advantage for businesses

The Innovation Director of BASQUE FOOD CLUSTER, Virginia Matesanz, has been in charge of presenting in detail the operation and advantages of participating in ontzi. “The social, legislative and cost pressures that exist in the market are very great and complicated. Even more so if we think that there is no solution that is one hundred percent effective for most small and medium-sized companies,” says Matesanz.

In this sense, the recently launched community will have the possibility of solving many of the doubts that small and medium-sized food companies have through a free technical-legal advice service; and they will also be able to contact directly with an international map of agents previously analyzed by the technical committee of ontzi, which is formed by Itene, Packnet and IDOM. This expert committee will help companies identify the most effective solutions for their food and beverage packaging and supply needs. The platform will also offer relevant documentation on the legal framework, shopper studies and reports on the most important trends.

“Joining ontzi will enable companies to identify where their main challenges in packaging management lie because, although it is a common problem, each company will have its own specific issues. Basque food SMEs will have the opportunity to find their ideal partner or participate in projects that will help them to advance in compliance with legislation and market satisfaction,” explained Virginia Matesanz.

Ultimately, the ENVAS3S project, through the community ontziwill try to solve the difficult equation of providing the Basque food company with safe, sustainable and competitive containers and packaging, opening and bringing the market of solutions in the management of containers and packaging closer to the international level, and promoting R&D&I when such a solution is not available.


Packaging material, a decisive factor in purchases

The ontzi presentation event included the dissemination of the results of the first study on consumer perception and habits regarding food packaging. Prepared by Across The Shopper and presented by its founder, Xavier Cros.According to the findings of the study, two out of three shoppers living in Spain consider the packaging material to be important when deciding on their food purchases, but only 30% would be willing to pay a higher price if the product’s packaging were recyclable or reusable.

The majority of the public perceives that excessive amounts of plastic are being used and they express a greater preference for those brands that are taking actions such as the use of more easily degradable materials.

Biodegradable packaging is the most desired by consumers – 81% would like their usual brand to have it, as it leaves no trace in the environment – who also demand brands to facilitate recycling with more information, showing that households are increasingly committed to this cause. According to the study, households have 3.5 recycling bins on average (plastic, cardboard/paper, glass and organic waste), and only 1 in 10 still have a single garbage can for everything.


Identification of challenges and next project sessions

At the end of the event, the next steps to be taken were presented. After having identified and prioritized during the day the main challenges of the more than 50 food companies in attendance, these will be transferred to the ontzi community and studied by the solution providers. In the next session of the project, to be held on November 15, in Vitoria-Gasteiz, these agents will take the lead, presenting the food companies with examples of the solutions available for their challenges.

The culmination of ontzi will take place on December 13, in Bilbao, with an event for companies and agents to hold direct meetings and present their success stories, from which future collaborative projects can emerge.