In an attempt to win loyalty through its customers' stomachs, Nova Chemicals Corp. has commercialized new grades of styrenic and acrylic copolymers for food packaging.
A new grade of Dylark styrenic copolymer is aimed at freezer-to-microwave use. Nova's Zylar acrylic copolymer has been expanded with a clear grade for refrigerated- or frozen-food packaging.
The new Dylark can be used in basic or intricate designs and manufactured as tinted, clear or foamed. It offers faster cycles, seals better and is excellent for printing, officials said. The Zylar grade shows improved processing, greater throughput and lower part weight, officials said. Its applications include fresh fruit and produce containers, salad bowls and lids, deli trays and packaging for cold beverages and frozen desserts. Pittsburgh-based Nova unveiled the materials at a Sept. 21 news conference in New York.
``We're focusing on food packaging because the food-service and takeout markets are growing rapidly,'' Nova global packaging director Debra van Holst said in a recent phone interview. ``People are busier and there are a lot of dual-working families. People want to dine with their families but don't have time for cooking.
``Even nicer restaurants are offering carryout because people still want restaurant-quality food.''
The new grades - customer-tested in 2004 and commercialized earlier this year - are the work of a Nova field market development team formed in 2000. The team gathers and analyzes input from large food producers like Frito-Lay, Pepsi-Cola and Sara Lee on down to packaging converters and processors.
``We look at all levels of the chain to review their requirements, then we look at the value of our products,'' van Holst said.
Nova makes Zylar at a plant in Belpre, Ohio, and Dylark in Belpre and Monaca, Pa. Between 2003 and 2007, Nova will spend as much as $250 million companywide to convert commodity capacity to higher-performance products at sites that include Belpre and Monaca. The firm launched a Zylar production facility in Belpre in July. A Dylark production site will open in Belpre during the second half of 2006.
The moves capitalize on current assets and technology and will not require major capital investment, Nova spokeswoman Stephanie Franken said.
The news conference included a presentation from Marc Summers, host of Unwrapped, the top-rated television show on Food Network.