Mexico City — PET maker DAK Americas expects GDP-level demand growth in Mexico this year, while seeing more of its volume move from carbonated soft drinks to bottled water.
The challenge there — for DAK and other PET makers — is that water bottles use less PET per bottle than soft drink bottles.
“Our nemesis is lightweighting,” business director Antonio Garza Rios said at Plastimagen 2016 in Mexico City. “Bottled water is still growing, but not as fast as it had been. It’s consumer preference.”
As he predicted Mexican PET demand growth of around 2.5 percent for 2016 — in line with the overall Mexican economy — Garza Rios pointed out that Mexico once was a leader in per capita consumption of soft drinks, until a soda tax was enacted in 2014. The country’s soft drink consumption fell 12 percent that first year.
Charlotte, N.C.-based DAK is a unit of industrial conglomerate Alpek SAB de CV of Monterrey, Mexico.
Even with the challenges of lightweighting, Garza Rios said that DAK’s PET customers “are doing more in shape and design,” looking at new molds and new shapes.
“There’s a lot of innovation under way with our customers,” he said. “They’re always trying to add value.” Garza Rios cited extrusion blow molded handles for health and beauty and industrial uses as a potential new application. Some such handles already have been commercialized, while others are in development.
Soft drink suppliers also are trying smaller PET bottle sizes, which consumer might see as healthier than previous large sizes, he added.
DAK has purchased the rights to almost 900 million pounds of PET capacity at a new plant that M&G Group will open by the end of the year in Corpus Christi, Texas. DAK will reduce its own PET production capacity in 2016 by converting one of its resin lines in Mississippi to fiber production.
Even with the new capacity, PET supply and demand taking the Americas as a whole should be balanced in the near term, according to Garza Rios.