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ACG’s Clean Label Project accreditation could set a trend in post Covid-19 era

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In tune with growing consumer sentiment for boosting immunity with food and dietary supplements, ACG’s efforts to bring healthy, safe, simplified and transparent labelled products to the market achieved an important milestone recently, when they reportedly became the world’s first capsules to receive a certification of compliance from the Clean Label Project for its ACGcapsTM H+ capsules. Selwyn Noronha, CEO, ACG Capsules elaborates on the significance of this accreditation and on the company’s strategy to emerge as a trendsetter in the post-COVID-19 era

What is the significance of this certification of compliance from Clean Label Project for ACGcapsTM H+?

ACG Capsules is the world’s first and only capsule manufacturer to have a certified ‘Clean Label’ product. The certificate received for ACGcapsTM H+ is proof of a pure, simple, safe, healthy, contaminant-free product. The certifying body – Clean Label Project (CLP) is known to test and only then certify the products as Clean label. Their testing is renowned for being strict and comprehensive, covering over 400 industrial and environmental contaminants, in addition to the food safety requirements laid out by the USFDA. The test results are evaluated against ‘Prop 65’ aimed to protect products from contaminants known to cause cancer, birth defects or other reproductive harm.

Is ACG applying for the same for other capsules?

We are evaluating our products to see if they comply with the requirements of CLP as it is ACG’s endeavour to bring healthy, safe, simplified and transparent labelled products to the market.

How has COVID-19 pandemic and the resultant lockdown impacted ACG in terms of production, etc.?  Was the company able to work more or less as normal because it was part of essential services? 

The rising severity of the COVID-19 outbreak worldwide has caused unforeseen disruptions to people’s lives and businesses. People across the globe are relying more on pharma and dietary supplement industry to answer their health and immunity needs in the grip of a medical crisis. Now, more than ever, pharma and health nutritional companies across the globe need reliable partners who can ensure steady supplies of products. ACG Capsules has always been a reliable partner to our esteemed customers across the globe and had gone the extra mile to ensure that our customers were and are at ease with capsules supplies during this taxing time. We, at ACG Capsules, are committed to making a healthier world with and through our customers. We knew our responsibilities as a dependable partner in times of this crisis. Globally, all our factories were and are operational round-the-clock without any disruption to production while maintaining recommended guidelines to ensure hygiene and biosecurity. Therefore, it is natural for our customers to be confident of “no product risk” as there is no disruption of activities.

How much will annual revenues be impacted for FY20 and FY21?

I believe it is too early to comment on this. We are pro-actively planning and working to ensure smooth operations and are aware that a new day might bring up a different or fresh challenge. Anyway, we are continually experiencing an exponential increase in costs of running operations and servicing the customers, including raw material costs and its uncertain availability. Moreover, as we move forward, we will have to spend extra on enhanced digitalisation and automation. Given so many uncertainties, I’m sure you will see the challenge in forecasting top and bottom-line impact. As we are aware of this, we are pro-actively working on different initiatives to minimise probable adverse impact.

What is today the situation in the other geographies served by ACG as well as other manufacturing locations?  

Pharma industry globally is working towards ensuring a steady supply of medicines to hospitals and consumers. ACG is fully aligned to support this endeavour. There have been constant changes because of COVID 19 which vary from country to country forcing the government to bring in new regulations/guidelines. We are closely monitoring the dynamic situation in every country and risk-mitigation plans are in place to overcome any disruptions. Regular supplies continue from all six manufacturing locations across the globe to our customers in over 140 countries and we are ready for any challenge that may arise.

How is the company preparing for the lifting of the lockdown, for the corporate offices? Will WFH be a more acceptable option at least for some time?

Employee Health and Safety is a core value for ACG, which is of utmost importance during the current scenario. We are tirelessly working towards continuing our operations with the least possible manpower. WFH was initiated in mid-March for our India operations, much before the lockdown was announced by the government.

WFH has been a new and welcome experience for our employees who have ensured the smooth flow of activities while working with more enthusiasm and motivation than before.

We have a workplace normalisation plan of returning to offices that will be implemented in a phased manner based on the requirement of an employee to be physically present in the office. We are completely aligned with the “new normal” for businesses.

What are the new trends in the pharma and pharma packaging sector as a direct result of COVID-19? For instance, will there be more acceptance of plant automation, as factories want to do more with less? Are they ready for the investments that this calls for?

ACG is continually tracking all the emerging trends and ensuring execution of plans to align with these trends. In a new normal, technology, digitalisation and automation will play a significant role. We have already embarked on this path through several initiatives like IIoT, Industry 4.0, etc. The growing awareness about data integrity was always our focus for the past several decades and have already got systems in place. In fact, sooner or later, or shall I say much sooner than what one would expect, we intend to be a trend-setter and have already initiated our journey.

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