Scholle Corp. is opening a bag-in-box manufacturing plant in China, becoming one of the few U.S. bag makers to penetrate the Asian country.
The company is launching the site this month in Suzhou, northwest of Shanghai, in hopes of spreading the use of the bag-in-box packages in China and other parts of Asia, said Roberta Morris, Scholle director of marketing communications at the company's Northlake, Ill., packaging unit headquarters.
Scholle developed the bag-in-box concept in the early 1950s, at first as a means for consumers to refill the battery acid in their vehicles. It soon spread as a package to dispense milk, fountain soft drinks, retail and commercial wine and processed foods and fruit juices.
The pumpable bag consists of coextruded film made from a variety of materials and integrated with an injection molded spout, cap and connector. The completed bag, made by Scholle, then is sent to customers, who fill it with their product within a cardboard box or other rigid outer container.
Scholle has 12 packaging plants globally, including one in Australia and a facility that opened a year ago near Sao Paulo, Brazil. But while the company had shipped its products to distributors in China, it had no manufacturing presence in the country until now, Morris said.
Asia has been slower to adopt bag-in-box packages compared with the United States and Europe, Morris said. But that could be changing quickly, and Scholle wanted to establish more of a base in China to take advantage of that growth, she said.
``Everybody is looking at China and how quickly it is westernizing,'' Morris said. `There will be a lot of changes over the next four to five years, and China wants to be perceived as a state-of-the-art, modern country. We'll do whatever we need to do to help them achieve that with our packages.''
The small facility will manufacture and assemble bags, after extruding the film at other Scholle sites. Many of the finished bags will be used for soft drink syrup, processed fruits and vegetables, milk and wine, Morris said. The bags range in size from 2-1,000 liters and will be made on Scholle-designed machines.
``We wanted to dip our toes in the water in China,'' Morris said. ``The business is still in its infancy there.''
The bag-in-box package now is made by several other processors, including DuPont-owned Liqui-Box Corp. and Smurfit-Stone Container Corp. Scholle considers itself the largest bag-in-box maker and said no competitor yet has opened a bag-in-box plant in China.
Scholle, based in Irvine, Calif., also makes filling equipment, metalized plastic and paper packaging, flexible shipping containers for industrial uses, and both chemicals and acids. The company did not provide details on employees or plant size in Suzhou.