ATLANTA - Gunnar Brock, chairman and chief executive of Swedish-based liquid food packager Tetra Pak International AB, admits he plans to compete not only with other package makers, but with himself. Speaking at Packaging Strate-gies '96 in Atlanta on March 25, Brock said Tetra Pak is moving into more plastic packaging, and thus will compete with the company's own, and successful, coated and multilayer paperboard containers.
For now, the ``move'' into plastic consists in the United States of a joint venture with Graham Packaging Inc. of York, Pa., making high density polyethylene bottles. Brock, however, did not rule out other expansions.
``We want to be a leader in all the markets - Asia, America, Europe and everywhere else,'' he said. ``But we must steer clear of the dangers inherent in any expansion of our scope.''
He said those dangers include cutting in on the paperboard packaging of products with plastic containers, losing focus of company goals and not forming good strategies that can develop both kinds of packaging.
``We believe in the adage that `The package should save more than it costs,'*'' he said. ``And we believe that we can make that work for plastic. Essentially we are competing with ourselves, but we see many ways in which our plastic, fiber and paper businesses can grow simultaneously.''
Specifically, Brock noted that Tetra Pak already makes thermoformed form-fill-seal HDPE containers in Britain, and is starting production of stand-up pouches in India. Within four months, the company also will make the stand-up pouches in Argentina and Switzerland, he said. He noted that Tetra Pak will move into Japan with a proprietary package, but did not say whether it would be paper or plastic. The firm also will set up plastic packaging headquarters in Chicago.
He said larger-sized bottles are one area he sees as potentially good for development of plastic containers.
``Perhaps we will find that the plastic will work well in large containers, and the cartons in smaller ones,'' he said. ``The cartons do not hold carbonation as well, but we will treat each material equally within the company.''
He said Tetra Pak has a global lead in aseptic packaging, trade name recognition and knowledge of markets. All of those can be adapted to plastic packages, by either developing proprietary packages within the firm, or forming strategic alliances, Brock said.
``We must be ready to move and to take advantage of our strengths,'' Brock said. ``We have seen that in this business you can go from heaven to hell quickly. For instance, aseptic packaging was banned in the state of Maine for a time, but it is not now. That will happen, but we want to be able to give the consumer what they want, and they are schizophrenic. They want a low price and value, but sometimes they are willing to pay for a premium package.''