As Georgia’s economy struggles to restart after pandemic shutdowns, private-sector companies are seeking analytical insights to help them assess challenges, recognise emerging opportunities and find ways out of the economic and business crisis caused by the health emergency. To address this need for the packaging sector, the European Union (EU) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) today released a survey that assesses the impact of COVID-19 lockdowns and advises on next steps.

“The EU is committed to assisting Georgia in its economic recovery and helping to put Georgian companies back in business,” said Vincent Rey, Head of Cooperation of the EU Delegation to Georgia. “To this end we work with promising value chains in Georgia, including packaging. Understanding what is happening in the sector is key to helping it recover in this crisis and save jobs. With the EU’s engagement in the sector, we promote a green and innovative climate recovery, in line with the circular economy concept. Waste and resource use are minimised, and when a product reaches the end of its life, it is used again to create further value.”

“As our survey makes clear, Georgia’s economy has taken a big hit during the pandemic, with half of the companies in the packaging sector losing at least half of their income,” said UNDP Head Louisa Vinton. “But it is heartening to see that 70 percent of the same group of companies are exploring new business opportunities.”

Based on interviews with over 700 respondents, the new research reveals that over half of the enterprises that make up Georgia’s packaging value chain lost more than 50 percent of their income to lockdown and 83 percent consider the pandemic a significant threat to their continued operation. 88 percent of companies had no business-continuity insurance, and 58 percent say they lack the financial resources needed to survive the crisis.

Company workforces have also been hurt, but 54 percent of packaging companies managed to avoid firing or laying off staff. 17 percent put staff on unpaid leave while 17 percent temporarily laid off their employees.

Yet, despite these sobering results, more than 70 percent of packaging companies see business opportunities emerging alongside pandemic challenges. Most of them aim to develop new products and services, enter new markets and explore online business tools to modernise their operations. Some have already taken bold steps to repurpose their business on short notice, adapting products and services to the emerging market needs.

The assessment of the pandemic impacts on the packaging supply chain in Georgia was commissioned by the EU and UNDP and carried out in May 2020 by the Georgian research agency ACT.

The packaging value chain is one of the business fields supported by the EU and UN as part of the wider EU4Business programme, which promotes private sector development in Georgia.     

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