Mineral water brand Perrier, a longtime holdout in the world of glass packaging, is making the switch to plastic.
Perrier Vittel started selling its mineral water packaged in PET/nylon bottles in France in May.
The bottles will move into Belgium, Switzerland and Britain in coming weeks.
The Paris-based company said switching from its traditional green glass bottle, an icon for nearly a century, is designed to broaden the product's appeal among young adults ages 20-35. Also, the company says the 50-centiliter bottle will work better as a carryout container.
The company expects to introduce the plastic bottles in the United States and Canada next year.
Perrier parent Nestle SA invested 6.8 million euros ($5.7 million) to install a PET bottle line at the company's mineral water spring, glassworks and bottling plant at Vergeze in southern France. The plant turned out 751 million bottles of Perrier in 2000, according to the firm.
The new bottle was developed for Perrier by Schmalbach-Lubeca AG of Ratingen, Germany. It was designed to contain the brand's high level of carbonation while preserving the Perrier taste.
The bottle is a slightly different shape from Perrier's traditional Indian Club glass bottle. The nylon barrier layer will limit the carbonation loss to just 15 percent after a year, as opposed to water in simple PET bottles that loses about 50 percent during the same period, according to Perrier.
``PET posed a challenge for the brand. It took 11 years of research to find a material that would handle the 50 million bubbles in every litre of Perrier, and guarantee the product would be the same flowing out of the bottle as when it went in,'' Perrier announced in a news release. The bottle has a resealable screw-top closure.
Perrier expects to turn out about 16 million PET bottles during the first year. Perrier will sell natural and lime and lemon flavored products in the new packaging.
Schmalbach plans to feature the Perrier bottle at the Drinktec-Interbrau 2001 beverage industry show in Munich, Germany, scheduled for Sept. 20-27.