DAK Americas has reinforced its status in the North American PET resin market with the completion of a 330 million-pound-per-year plant in Charleston, S.C.
The plant, which officially opened June 12, is DAK's second, joining a similar-size plant in Fayetteville, N.C. The Charleston plant has created 50 new jobs.
``We now have the capacity to grow very effectively,'' President and Chief Executive Officer Hector Camberos said at NPE 2003, held June 23-27 in Chicago. ``We can grow with a clear competitive advantage.''
``One of the issues we had with having only one footprint was that we were capacity-constrained,'' said Tom Sherlock, DAK's resins business director. ``We needed to expand to go to the marketplace with new products.
``Before, we weren't even really able to run product trials,'' Sherlock added. ``Now we have a tremendous amount of freedom to deliver products we've had in development.''
One of those new products is Laser Plus, a PET grade aimed at hot-fill beverage and food-packaging applications. The material boasts higher glass transition temperature, increased sidewall crystallinity and higher vacuum resistance, officials said.
Laser Plus now is being produced in small-scale commercial amounts, according to Sherlock.
Camberos said future PET resin growth is likely to be in Wilmington, N.C., where DAK already produces purified terephthalic acid, a key PET feedstock, subject to unpredictable growth rates.
PET's 8-10 percent growth rates have been dimmed somewhat by a maturing market for carbonated soft drinks and slow acceptance of such heralded developments as PET beer bottles. However, PET makers have found a bottle of refreshing, life-sustaining water in this harsh climate.
Water - and flavored water - are expected to post gains of 20 percent this year, in spite of cold, damp weather east of the Mississippi, which has hurt seasonal carbonated soft drink demand, Sherlock said.
DAK is a unit of Mexican conglomerate Alfa SA de CV, which acquired the PET resin unit and related assets, including polyester fibers and PTA, from DuPont Co. in 2001.
Industry estimates place DAK's annual sales at about $300 million.