Forbes India 15th Anniversary Special

The secret behind Cilicant's leadership in active packaging

We speak to Mr. Manish Jain about the people and processes behind Cilicant's pathbreaking active packaging business

Published: Aug 30, 2022 01:08:12 PM IST
Updated: Aug 30, 2022 08:07:20 PM IST

The secret behind Cilicant's leadership in active packagingManish Jain, M.D & Founder, Cilicant

What sparked your interest in Active Packaging, and how did you decide to make it a viable business case?

Our primary focus has been on increasing the shelf life of products, and with that, we are constantly looking for new and better solutions to help our clients. As part of the pharmaceutical industry, we know that active packaging is not solely a packaging component, but a vital catalyst to protecting the efficacy of products as well as enhancing shelf life.  With that knowledge and experience, we believe that active packaging is essential to protect not only pharmaceutical products but numerous products in other industries too.

What were the initial R&D efforts to making a commercially acceptable product? How was the lab-to-market translated into action?

Our R&D team plays a significant role in our success in the market today. Since our inception, we have been conducting stability studies of our products with a two-pronged approach, testing various products from our clients and ones available in the wider market. This combined approach has enabled us to provide viable results to our existing clients whilst also developing new solutions.

Which sectors did you target to get an entry into the food industry?

In order to deliver a fresh product to the consumer, the focus must be on preserving the freshness and attaining an enhanced shelf life, which can be achieved by using safe and effective packaging.

Knowing this, we started working with multiple product segments that manufacture processed packaged food such as bakery, healthy snacks, and sweets or mithai.  These represent some of the growing segments in the processed food industry, with many brands aiming to widen their reach from local to global markets.

How did your pharmaceutical packaging experience help you in the food industry?

The recommendations we make for food manufacturers is based on our experience of pharmaceutical packaging. Our technical team thoroughly understands our client’s product and their challenges or concerns regarding suitable packaging.

Active packaging is incredibly important in the pharmaceutical industry as it ensures and prolongs the effectiveness of the medication. Furthermore, as most medication is lifesaving, it must be protected at each stage, from production through to consumer use; active packaging ensures that it is safeguarded from the harmful effects of moisture and oxidation.

For instance, in the stability studies, we found that one of the most common causes of food deterioration or spoilage was caused by oxygen present in the food packaging. This promotes microbiological growth, in turn triggering rancidity in fats. Oxygen can be a root cause of foul odour, mould/fungus growth, dryness, or the presence of insects and moths etc., depending on product and its packaging.

After a thorough evaluation of the product, we identify the root cause of the problem and conduct trials, both at our end and with the customer. We then provide feedback to the client and provide the right solution to not only protect their product but also increase the shelf life.

Instead of simply using active packaging as customary packaging components, we emphasize the need to use it correctly; “using the active packaging the right way is imperative to enhance the product’s shelf life”.

How do you see the growth potential for products based on active packaging technology, especially in the processed & packaged food segment?

To provide an example, when bottled water was introduced to the Indian market, nobody believed that it would be successful. Putting aside a certain demographics, who were the targeted consumers, nowadays even the common man prefers to drink bottled water. It paved the way to a packaging revolution in the consumable industry, with the premise to deliver safe and fresh water.

Active packaging offers the same concept for the packaged food industry, as it aims to deliver safe and fresh products to its consumers. Add to that the increased demand for functional packaging due to sustainability concerns, active packaging will play a pivotal role in helping to reduce single-use packaging.

Mr Manish Jain has over three decades of experience in active packaging chemistry. He founded Cilicant Chem Private Limited in 2011 with a vision to providing safe and effective primary active packaging solutions to pharmaceutical and food processing industries, focusing mainly on preserving efficacy and increasing the shelf life of products.

His leadership, strategic approach, and eye for product quality boosted Cilicant’s outreach globally and is therefore considered among the top manufacturers in pharmaceutical active packaging.

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