From the very beginning, we envisioned as a place where packaging industry leaders could weigh in on our aspirational concept – that packaging today should be a c-level conversation. The “Ask the Chief Packaging Officer” feature was intended as an opportunity to speak with executives with specific responsibility for packaging in a global enterprise – people who could well be considered for the CPO role, were it to become a reality.

Our inaugural Ask the Chief Packaging Officer interviewee was Stephanie Heil of Heineken. For our second interview we’re still in the beverage industry, this time the bottled water sector. We are very pleased to have had the opportunity to speak with Jim Markano, Head of Procurement for Nestle Waters NA.

We learned a great deal from our conversation with Jim, who is responsible for implementing packaging. We know that you’ll find his insights interesting and useful. If you’re tasked with any area of sustainability or innovation for your organization Jim is highly experienced about how these kinds of initiatives connect to packaging.

Insights about Packaging and the Consumer Connection

One of the most important reasons that we think packaging deserves a seat at the corporate table is that it closes the loop with the consumer. Jim added to our thinking along these lines.

Most frequently, we think of shelf impact – packaging’s ability to visually attract the consumer and convey critical marketing messages – perhaps even creating initial product awareness at the point of purchase. However there are other ways that packaging intersects with consumer interest.

In the regulatory arena, it’s about safety. Accurate labeling helps consumers to make purchase decisions in line with their health and lifestyle goals and to follow proper usage directions.

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Our interview with Jim highlighted recycling as another area for consumer connection around packaging where companies may be missing the boat. We don’t want to be a spoiler here, because you should read the entire interview with Jim, but we’ll give you another clue. The consumer-package recycling loop is as critical to corporate sustainability initiatives as it is to a shared environmental altruism.

Packaging and the Supply Side

Another interesting aspect of our interview with Jim is that he leads packaging from the supply chain side of the business. Generally we’ve been thinking about the CPO as a role that would emerge from marketing or report through marketing. Here is a situation where procurement coordinates all aspects of packaging.

Our contributing blogger, David Luttenberger of Mintel, mentions procurement as a potential source of the CPO in his latest post. His thought was that this would be ideal in situations where cost is critical. After speaking with Jim, we believe that a broader benefit has to do with providing an effective place from which to break down – or bridge – operational silos. We hear again and again that silos create roadblocks to meeting business objectives where packaging has true impact. These include such strategic goals as innovation and sustainability.

We want to thank Jim for sharing his expertise and insights. We also want to thank the Nestle Waters communications team for coordinating the interview. They embraced the opportunity to discuss packaging and its role in their company – and for good reason. At Nestle Waters, leadership recognizes packaging’s strategic importance to business success and for many initiatives has already elevated the conversation to the c-suite.

Read Jim’s interview for more details. Also, if you or a colleague lead packaging at your company and would like to share your ideas for a future “Ask the Chief Packaging Officer” column, let us know at As always, please share your thoughts in the comments section.


Learn more about what the role of the CPO might be and why companies may want to consider creating such a position.

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