NAUCALPAN, MEXICO - Smurfit Cart¢n y Papel de Mexico SA de CV is diversifying by producing bottles for new shampoo brands, and plans to expand to the food and pharmaceutical markets. The company also may use its two 90-ton Battenfeld injection machines to produce press-on high and low density polyethylene caps for a local franchise producer of Yoplait yogurt drinks, said Xavier Horcasitas, SCPM's plastics division general manager in an interview at the firm's Naucalpan plant.
``We're looking for diversification. We're trying to be less dependent on Procter & Gamble and Colgate. They used to make up 80 percent of my total business,'' said Horcasitas, whose firm has three blow molding plants in Mexico.
The firm's business has been hit by Mexico's recession following the country's December 1994 peso devaluation.
Things also have changed since SCPM first committed itself to buying four Krupp Kautex coextrusion machines and established a US$10 million plant in the state of Guanajuato on the strength of extra Procter & Gamble Co. work at SCPM's Mariscala plant.
Within months of SCPM's commitment, P&G changed plans, switching part of the additional production to other custom blow molders, according to Horcasitas. That left SCPM with P&G work for only two of the Kautex machines.
More recently, Cincinnati-based P&G has pressed its custom molder suppliers on price, so SCPM is fighting to maintain its work for the U.S. company, Horcasitas said. In addition, he said, Colgate-Palmolive Co., which operates more than 30 blow molding machines at its filling plants in Guanajuato and the state of Lerma, is taking more bottle-making in-house.
Horcasitas said he hopes business will pick up this year after a tough 1995. He has won several new packaging orders. While he looks for more customers, he does not expect volume to rise more than 10-15 percent in 1996.
``The market is not so good now,'' he said. ``Competition's very tight and the purchasing power of the [Mexican] consumers is still pretty bad.''
SCPM's new business includes an order for 1 million 250mm coextrusion HDPE Yoplait yogurt drink bottles a month for Sigma Alimentos SA de CV in Guada-lajara. They will be the first three-layer coextrusion bottles for liquid yogurt in Mexico.
SCPM also has a deal to produce up to 200,000 400mm and 800mm HDPE shampoo bottles for Wella and has begun blow molding and screen printing 125,000 900mm HDPE shampoo bottles a month for Helene Curtis Industries Inc. SCPM also awaits the go-ahead for another order for 200,000 175mm bottles per month from Helene Curtis.
Smurfit's new 32,400-square-foot plant at San Jose Iturbide, Mexico, is equipped with two of the four coextrusion Kautex machines as well as six older Bekum 121, 111 and 110 blow molders relocated from its small Atlas plant in Mexico City.While the Kautex machines mainly serve P&G's needs, the Bekums are dedicated to Colgate's local business. The plant makes more than a dozen different HDPE and PVC bottles for shampoos, cleaners and baby oils, operating at 80 percent capacity, said Nestor Sabi, plant manager.
The firm is producing three-layer, coextruded blown containers, including a middle layer of 100 percent recycled material, on the Kautex equipment, Sabi said. The facility also has a Kammann screen printing line.
One of the two Kautex machines at the Atlas plant produces HDPE oil bottles for Mobil Corp. SCPM recently invested US$200,000 in equipment to provide the containers with a ``view stripe,'' Horcasitas said. The plant also has a label heat-transfer machine.
SCPM's main plastics plant is in Naucalpan. It is equipped with three first-generation Kautex machines, including a K5 and K10; three Techne machines with in-mold labeling; a Nissei 250 for PET bottle production; two Bekum 401 machines for 1- to 3-liter bottles; and 11 other Bekums from 50s to 121s. The firm's total machine capacity is 38, though only 28 are in use.