- June 01, 2003, Stanley Sacharow, The Packaging Group
Favorable export taxes coupled with political stability have made the United Arab Emirates (UAE) a virtual hub of Middle Eastern flex-pack converting activity.
Formed in 1971 from six (the seventh was added in 1972) Arab Sheikdoms, the UAE (pop. 25 million) now consists of Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Unim al-Qaiwan, Ras al-Khaimah, and Fujairah. The nation, about the size of Maine, has approximately 1.5 million working expatriates from all over the world and is blessed with a strong entrepreneurial spirit and a vibrant economy.
There are presently seven flex-pack converters operating in the UAE. Thirteen more are active in neighboring Oman, Saudi Arabia, and Iran. Saudi Arabia is a hub of Middle Eastern flex-pack activity itself, with eight converters.
Flex-pack converting activity in the UAE began about 1985. Prior to that, printed laminates were being imported from Europe and Southeast Asia. Kangaroo Plastics began manufacturing in the late 80s, with Arabian Packaging, United Flexible, and Roto Packaging soon following. Estimated at $40 million (US), UAE flex-pack products are exported to the Middle East, Africa, CIS (former Soviet Union), and even to the US.
United Flexible Packaging Co. Ltd. (Dubai) is a leading company with state-of-the-art equipment from Schiavi, Flexo Technica, Nordmeccanica, Comexi, and DCM. The manufacturing facility has three rotogravure printing presses as well as a flexo press. Capabilities include solventless, solvent-based, and water-based laminations; hot melt/wax coating; high-speed slitting; pouchmaking; bagmaking; eyeletting; spout sealing; and lid punching. The firm supplies a printed zip-top bag for Epson Salts distributed by Humco (Texas).
In the film market, Dubai Poly Film is a high-grade supplier of BOPP (biaxially oriented polypropylene) film to a worldwide list of converters. Operation began in 1999 with state-of-the-art equipment. There are two production lines for BOPP from Europe and two in-house metallizers. Current capacity is 48,000 lb, and further expansion is planned for a new BOPP line and two additional metallizers. Products include anti-fog BOPP for the produce market and metallized and white pearl BOPP for flex-pack converter use. Sales manager Wasif Rizvi told me, “We are an ISO-9000 certified company with a sophisticated, well-equipped quality assurance department. Our BOPP presence is felt in over 30 nations, and we now intend to enter the US market.” The company is a basic supplier to Positive Packaging (India) and rapidly has established status as a trusted and valuable film supplier. Rizvi is a well-informed professional, thoroughly grounded in OPP technology. His intimate knowledge of flex-pack activity in the Middle East has brought Dubai Poly Film into the ranks of the most sophisticated suppliers of OPP. This is in spite of a market dominated by many worldwide suppliers.
Turkey rarely has been thought of as a major flex-pack nation. However, flex-pack production is estimated to be $400 million — larger than France and Italy and equal to the total production of Spain and the Netherlands.
There is a strong converter base in Turkey, plus a well-established OPP industry growing at about 12% annually. Exporting to a wide range of markets, Turkish converters are particularly strong in the CIS and Ukrainian markets in addition to a growing domestic market.
Flex-Pack converters in Turkey include Pak Ambalaj San Vetic AS (Istanbul), which produces a wide variety of printed laminates, and Irfan Etiket (Izmir), a large-scale producer of decorated labels with a branch in Istanbul and a wide range of multi-national customers. Korozo Packaging (Istanbul) manufactures both rotogravure and flexo-printed laminates. It produces a wide variety of carrier bags and a full range of zipper constructions and exports heavily to the CIS.
Stanley Sacharow has been in the flexible packaging industry for more than 35 years. His company, The Packaging Group, is an organizer of targeted conferences and a consultant to the international packaging/converting industry. Contact him at 732/636-0885; firstname.lastname@example.org.