MONTERREY, MEXICO — Every morning, the government program Liconsa distributes more than 3 million liters of milk to needy families throughout Mexico.
One change started to take place in 1995, and just finished last year: now each family does not have to send someone with a bucket to pick up the milk, but it is dispensed in a 1-liter flexible package.
The coextruded, polyethylene bag with a specialty seal is supplied by Monterrey-based Relapasa SA de CV. The company is a leading domestic producer of plastic film and sheet for printing and flexible packaging. It has recently expanded capacity with a new plant, and it has hopes to continue to grow, in part through more exports.
The company converts paper, polyester, PE, biaxially oriented polypropylene, aluminum and specialty films.
A good share of Relapasa's production is dedicated to the milk packaging program, with the film and printing done in the Monterrey plant and delivered to Liconsa's nine plants throughout the country. Relapasa is the sole supplier of the film bags.
Liconsa packages the milk and distributes it through 11,000 sales outlets, where the milk is sold at a subsidy for families that make less than $6 per day.
``The polyethylene bag has special properties that benefit the children since the properties and flavor of the milk are preserved,'' said a Liconsa representative. She added that the conversion was made to improve hygiene, as well as to allow it to be distributed in exact quantities.
Relapasa, which stands for Recubrimientos y Laminaciones de Papel, provides flexible packaging for more than 20 food, beverage and household products.
``The company is centralizing all of its production at a new plant at the Escobedo industrial park,'' said Export Manager Guillermo Cavazos. The company had two plants in Monterrey, and has consolidated those operations at the new plant.
``The plant is now operating, although it won't be officially opened for another year,'' he added in the Aug. 12 interview in his Monterrey office.
``We are increasing rotogravure printing capacity by close to 30 percent,'' he said, adding that capacity in lamination also had expanded.
Only 3 percent of production is currently exported, but the company is aggressively working on new customers in Central America and the Caribbean.
``We hope to export to the southern United States, like Texas,'' Cavazos added. Relapasa also has sales offices in Guadalajara, Mexico City and Guatemala. It recently closed an office in Colombia.
Cavazos said the company has been talking with U.S. and European companies about potential joint ventures, but that the talks are still at a preliminary stage.
The company does not have goals to increase sales or production, Cavazos said, but instead focuses on its plan to increase quality and service.
``We have a plan called Relapasa 2000 ICS, which refers to innovation, quality and service,'' he said.
He cited a chocolate bar manufacturer that Relapsa helped convert to a new package, and a juice package that allowed its customer to increase production speed.