MIAMI - Latin American consumers' carnivorous habits are creating rare opportunities for plastics converters and resin makers to do meaty business. ``The key to the whole thing is the continued stability of the South American countries' economies,'' said Ronald Foster, marketing director for Eval Co. of the Americas Inc., a maker of barrier packaging resins in Lisle, Ill.
He said Eval has been increasing its sales of the resins in Latin America for three or four years.
``It's been my experience that people in South America especially are really meat eaters. You can have meat four times a day, and so there is need for barrier films to wrap the meat and trays to carry it and other perishables. The Latin American market for barrier [ethylene vinyl alcohol] packaging is about where the U.S. market was about five or six years ago,'' he said.
Currently, Eval supplies customers in Latin America with barrier packaging resins from its Houston plant. But Foster said the firm probably will expand its presence in the region, including a Latin American plant, should economic factors remain stable.
``We have seen a doubling of demand in the last three years or so for packaging material for meat, and for bottles for things like salsa and ketchup. That demand has risen as the availability and demand for shelf-stable food products has risen.''
He estimated that at least 5 percent of the Houston plant's 30 million-pound-per-year capacity was consumed by Latin American packaging makers, and that it should grow substantially.
``Despite the current economic problems in Mexico, the rest of the Central and South American economies have been fairly stable for a long time,'' he said. If that continues, then the region is a good one that we will explore.''