YORK, PA. — Graham Packaging Co. LP has helped to develop a blow molded plastic can for Welch's frozen juice concentrates.
In the process, it added some pizazz to a product that grocers considered stale.
``Retailers thought producers were resting on their laurels since there has been nothing new in 20 years. Consumers expect more,'' said Roger Prevot, senior vice president and general manager of Graham's food and beverage business unit.
``This new can doesn't leak and has microwaveability,'' he said.
Graham worked on the new package for seven years. The high density polyethylene can allows consumers to get frozen juice products from package to pitcher in less than two minutes.
The injection molded, linear low density PE lid contains a tear-away, tamper-evident band. The can defrosts in the microwave in 60-90 seconds.
``We developed a new molding system which produces containers at a higher speed than any of our several hundred production lines in North America,'' Prevot said in a news release. ``We also developed a patented closure sealing system — to meet the challenge of maintaining seal integrity through freeze-thaw cycles, while also providing easy opening — and a new capper designed to operate at speeds over 800 containers per minute.''
As a result, Graham added 40,000 square feet and 16 employees to its Bradford, Pa., plant, which, initially, is the only Graham plant to make the Welch's can.
The line runs 24 hours a day and can operate seven days a week if needed.
Introduced in mid-1998 in New England, the can has been shipped to stores throughout the Eastern seaboard. Nationwide distribution will be phased in during the next year or so.
``It's the first packaging innovation for frozen juices since the invention of the peel strip in 1979,'' Daniel Dillon, Welch's president and chief executive officer, said in a news release.
``We know that packaging innovations have a major impact on consumer purchases and buying patterns. Welch's believes the new plastic can will generate more consumer traffic and sales in an area of the store where business has been trending downward.''
Decorative graphics are applied directly to the white can via heat transfer.
Graham Packaging is a global producer of custom blow molded plastic containers. It operates 47 facilities in 10 countries. The York-based company reported North American 1997 sales of $440 million.