Getting Ahead of the Curve – Managing Emerging Packaging Issues...

HAVI helped a quick-service restaurant (QSR) chain with answering consumer and media questions regarding the safety of chemicals and substances in their packaging. HAVI developed a process for responding to these emerging issues and concerns in science and technology.


Getting Ahead of the Curve – Managing Emerging Packaging Issues Proactively

A leading quick service restaurant (QSR) chain was facing a stream of questions from consumers and external groups on packaging safety and sustainability. HAVI partnered with the QSR and its suppliers to develop a process for identifying and responding to emerging issues in science and technology, and regulation and legislation related to product packaging.



A leading QSR was facing ever increasing questions and comments on the safety of chemicals and substances in its packaging. Consumers, the media and special interest groups all had opinions and concerns on safety and sustainability, often stemming from false information or internet rumors. In addition, there were rapidly developing changes in packaging regulation on a regional, country and even municipal level.

The QSR was spending too much time responding to these inquiries, could not seem to get ahead of issues and instead was always on the defensive.



The QSR reached out for assistance to HAVI, a global leader in packaging, supply chain services, marketing and supply chain analytics, merchandising planning and promotions management, and waste, recycling and sustainability. HAVI knew that the QSR chain needed a process to identify and respond to these issues, as opposed to its current reactive and haphazard approach.

It also knew that it could leverage its geographically diverse supplier community, industry contacts and academia to make the process robust.

HAVI developed the main themes, methodologies and performance indicators for the QSR’s packaging and its sustainability. It also identified both internal and external stakeholders and evaluated industry body representation for both company and personal memberships. In parallel, it developed a service delivery and communication plan for the QSR. Implementation began by engaging with suppliers to better track emerging packaging and chemical issues and determining the impact on the QSR’s product packaging. The first stage included developing a reporting template in the business review documentation, requesting information about anything that would have an impact on packaging; whether it is a new material, process, technology or developments in regulations and legislation covering food contact of packaging, or environmental restrictions.

The second stage was to invite a small group of suppliers, based on geographical reach and product category, to participate in an anticipatory and emerging issues review forum on a quarterly basis. The purpose of this group was to review new information and insights, and analyze the data for areas of opportunity or concern. Ongoing agenda items for the group include a review of published information on chemicals and compounds of interest such as mineral oil, bisphenol-A (BPA) and styrene monomer, and a review of legislation and regulation by country. Information is collected globally, as activity in this arena usually cascades very quickly from the Americas and Europe to Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa.

For the top dozen chemicals and compounds of interest, one page communication sheets have been developed for use as a holding statement when necessary, including the history of the material, the current fact-based scientific opinion held globally as well as a bespoke section for the position of a specific brand owner on the use of the material. Examples of these issues include country ordinances on inks, food contact plastics regulation, local restrictions on the use of polystyrene containers at food outlets and mandates on eco- friendly bags and biodegradable packaging.



  • Improved risk management – Created the ability for both the QSR and suppliers to anticipate and identify emerging issues and respond to them appropriately and in a timely manner.
  • Improved brand protection – Moved from a reactive to proactive position for the brand owner, creating time for a considered strategy and response.
  • Improved external communications – Created improved communication with key stakeholders, as issues were anticipated and communications could be prepared, rather than reactive responses with the pressures of condensed timelines.