Hoechst Group of Frankfurt, Germany, is planning to invest more than $500 million during the next five years to triple its production of PET packaging resins. Now No. 2, Hoechst aims to become the largest maker of PET packaging resins in the world. The company today has the capacity to produce about 990 million pounds of those materials.
Its expansions will close the gap between it and front-runner Eastman Chemical Co., according to Brian Pitts, general manager of packaging resins for Hoechst Corp. of New York.
By 2000, Hoechst projects it will have about 3.08 billion pounds of production capacity for PET packaging resins.
Meanwhile, Hoechst claims that Eastman of Kingsport, Tenn., currently has 1.65 billion pounds of capacity and, with expansions that Eastman has announced, Hoechst expects the current front-runner to have 2.75 billion pounds of production capacity by 2000.
Through Hoechst Fibers Worldwide, Hoechst Group announced Nov. 14 that it will add one world-scale production line a year for the next five years.
Hoechst currently claims to be the largest maker of PET polymers in the world, with nearly double the polymerization capacity of Eastman.
Hoechst said it has nearly 3 billion pounds of production capacity for PET, while Eastman has 1.4 billion pounds.
For PET polymers, Eastman ranks fourth worldwide, behind Hoechst, Nan Ya Plastics Ltd. of Taipei, Taiwan, and DuPont Chemical Co. of Wilmington, Del.
However, most of Hoechst's and the other companies' PET production is dedicated to making fibers for textiles, carpets and other uses, rather than packaging resins.
Pitts said Hoechst is capitalizing on its polymerization know-how to expand in PET packaging resins. Pitts spoke in a telephone interview Nov. 14.
To achieve the expansions in packaging resin production, Hoechst is adding solid-state polymerization capacity at existing facilities, while also adding new facilities, Pitts said.
The company said new PET packaging resin projects will be completed at existing production sites in Offenbach, Germany, and Queretaro, Mexico. The Queretaro expansion will be completed by the first quarter of 1997, while the Offenbach expansion will be completed by the third quarter of 1997.
Those expansions will add 385 million pounds of production capacity.
Meanwhile, previously announced expansions at Greer, S.C., and Millhaven, Ontario, will produce PET packaging resins by the end of 1996. Hoechst also makes packaging resins at Gersthofen, Germany; Portalegre, Portugal; Spartanburg, S.C.; Salisbury, N.C.; Ocotl n, Mexico; and SÃo Paulo, Brazil.
``We will expand our business in the Americas and Europe. The company will build on its strengths in Brazil and Mexico, and extend its presence into Asia,'' Pitts said. ``These leadership moves will strengthen our position at multinational converters and end users.''
While none of the $500 million investment is being spent in Asia, Hoechst spokeswoman Ellen Sweeney said Hoechst considers Asian markets significant for growth in the future, and potential locations for the production of PET packaging resins. Hoechst has other business interests, such as pharmaceuticals, in Asia.
Pitts said Hoechst primarily is targeting injection blow molding applications and other blow molding applications for its PET packaging resin products, including soft drink, bottled water, fruit juice, liquor, peanut butter, edible oil, mouthwash and dish washing liquids.