After seven years of using Barex resins from BP Chemicals (Naperville, IL) for its Pampryl brand juice bottles, French juice bottler Pampryl, part of Schweppes-Cadbury group member Orangina, last year completed its switch to a new bottle and closure. The transition is symptomatic of the changes in this market in recent years. The move to PET—especially with a barrier layer—from glass, Barex, or other materials is one of the most common in this market. Joining Pampryl in PET last summer was German bottler Eckes-Granini, which left its signature glass bottles for PET it blows itself.
Another significant trend evident at both of these firms is their decision to stretch blowmold their own bottles. Both purchase AmGuard multilayer PET barrier preforms from Amcor PET Packaging''s plant in Brecht, Belgium. Amcor''s three-layer preforms use nylon in the barrier layer.
Driving the transition
Pampryl began extrusion blowmolding Barex bottles in May 1996 as it transitioned from glass to plastic for 11 of its brands. At the time, the bottler said Barex topped both PET and PVC for barrier performance. That PVC was even in the running shows how far the industry has progressed since then. The AmGuard bottles are captively processed on a Sidel SBO10 stretch blowmolding unit at the Pampryl plant in Nuits-Saint-Georges, France.
Barex is a rubber-modified copolymer of acrylonitrile and methylacrylate that can be extrusion blowmolded to offer chemical and oxygen barrier resistance in mono- or multilayer packages. Amcor officials say a number of factors drove the transition at Pampryl away from Barex.
"The clarity of PET won out over Barex," says Caroline Herbst, new product manager at Amcor. "Barex bottles were hazier than PET ones. Also, Barex bottles are more expensive than PET, by a multiple," she says. In addition, she claims the gas barrier of the AmGuard bottles is superior to those of Barex packaging. Pampryl officials would not confirm reasons for the change.
Barex officials reserve comment on the Pampryl account but argue Barex is a better material for juices. Amy Flancon, Barex marketing manager, says, "We see the advantage of Barex over PET in that it offers a barrier in a single layer. Also, Barex''s very inert nature means there is no chance of flavor scalping."
Still, she and another Barex official, Neil Quinn, admit the material is no longer as common for juice packaging as it once was, though demand has soared in more demanding applications such as cosmetics and pharmaceutical packaging.
Pampryl was the only user of Barex for fruit juice in Europe. Quinn says that even as Pampryl left the material, another bottler—Jumex, in Mexico—began using the material for extrusion blowmolded 1-liter bottles.
Granini began by blowing bottles that contained Amcor''s Bind-Ox oxygen scavenging system, and is now transitioning to the more recently developed Bind-Ox+; Pampryl too is transitioning to the preforms with improved oxygen scavenging. The new version is more resistant to delamination, explains Herbst.
"We''ve improved the bonding between the PET inner and outer layers and the polyamide center layer." Amcor will not reveal how, referring only to "an extra step in the coinjection" molding of preforms. Cycle time is reportedly unaffected.
The bottler''s exit from glass includes its hohes c brand, the best-selling fruit juice in Europe, among others. Bottles are stretch blown at its plant in Fallingbostel, Germany, using a SIG Corpoplast Blomax 18/III unit, with a rated output of 27,000 bottles per hour.
Caps for sale
The Pampryl bottle switch coincided with a transition from compression molded closures with foam wadding inserts to single-piece, injection molded, 38-mm, three-thread versions from Bericap (Budenheim, Germany).
Anne-Cecile Ropele, new product marketing manager at Bericap France, says Bericap won the business from another processor. Once the bottler chose a new bottle type, new closures were a necessity, she explains: "The closure we supply would not have worked with [a blown neck finish]; ours is a bore seal closure which fits PET injected neck finishes."
Benefits for Pampryl are numerous, she says. Topping them is the switch from two-piece to one-piece units with tamper-evident band, eliminating the need for a sleeve to be added after capping. Also, she says, the new closures are better for consumers, since seals of two-piece closures are loosened as soon as a consumer opens a bottle. Ropele says the injection molded closures allow less oxygen permeation so that juice shelf life is improved.
Granini switched from metal twist caps on its glass bottles to the same-sized Bericap closures designed for use on bottles sealed with an aluminum foil strip.
The 38-mm size is gaining appreciably in beverage packaging, say experts at a number of closure molders. An official at closure molder Alcoa CSI (Indianapolis, IN) says the trend is especially notable for single-serve containers: consumers are willing to pay more for these anyway, so the cost of the slightly larger closure is not as important as ease of drinking.
Plus, she says, the size provides the best taste and smell due to the amount of oxygen allowed in the container. Petra Bauschke, marketing manager at closure molder Amcor Whitecap (Hanover, Germany), says her firm sees the same trend for the same reasons, plus easier pouring. In North America, she says, "There used to be many more 43-mm closures, but now there too we see an increase in 38-mm sizes."
Matthew Defosse [email protected]
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