After more than 30 years as a recognized name in injection molded packaging, Berry Plastics Corp. of Evansville, Ind., announced June 6 that it is expanding its operations to include thermoforming. Construction is under way on a 113,000-square-foot production and warehouse facility adjacent to Berry's current 520,000-square-foot Evansville plant. Berry is investing $50 million for the facility, which will house six thermoforming lines supplied by International Thermoforming Systems Inc. of Yakima, Wash. The first line is scheduled to be in production by the year's end, said Berry President and Chief Executive Officer Martin Imbler.
Industry trends led the injection molder to pursue thermoformed packaging as a supplemental market, Imbler said by phone.
"We perceived that, for certain customers and certain applications, thermoformed packaging is preferred," he said. "We want to be a full-line supplier to our customers.
"We just felt it was a logical business for us to get in to supplement our injection molding business."
Once all six lines are up and running, Imbler said sales are projected to increase by $75 million. Berry reported annual sales last year of $328.8 million.
This announcement also comes one month after Berry acquired Baltimore injection molder Poly-Seal Corp. Imbler said no plans are in the works to add thermoforming to that operation.
"It's not unusual for somebody in injection molding for years and years [to enter into thermoforming]," said Jim Throne, president of consulting firm Sherwood Technologies Inc. of Hinkley, Ohio, and a 30-year veteran of thermoforming. "You reach a point in injection molding where you can't go thin enough — that's always been thermoforming's strength."
That is not to say that a company like Berry will win over other long-standing thermoforming competitors — or that a complete conversion to thermoforming is the next logical step.
"They're being opportunistic, so they're probably good," Throne said. "Injection molders will always have their business. Thermoformers will not be able to take it away."
Throne said such a move like Berry's is also to be expected as materials and equipment are improved for thermoforming.
In remaining with current packaging trends, Imbler said the equipment the company will be running is capable of processing polypropylene as well as polystyrene for open-top containers, beverage cups and food packaging.