Beer is back at PET resin maker M&G Group.
After years of disappointing attempts to get beer makers to switch their product from glass to PET, the effort seemingly had been relegated to the shadows. But M&G is out to change that with its new PoliProtect-brand monolayer barrier PET, according to North American business director Mark Adlam.
It's time to convert big barrier markets to PET, particularly beer, Adlam said at the Packaging Conference in Las Vegas. But to do that, we need to lose the baggage of our long-term romancing of the beer market.
M&G based in Tortona, Italy has a lot to gain from a beer conversion, since it ranks as one of the world's largest PET makers with more than 4 billion pounds of annual capacity. The firm operates resin plants in the U.S., Mexico, Brazil and Italy, with 2,300 employees and $3 billion in annual sales in PET and related businesses.
Adlam acknowledged previous challenges that prevented PET from being used more widely in the beer market. These included high costs, short shelf life and a non-glass appearance. As a result, PET beer bottles in North America mostly are found only at sporting events or concerts. PET's share of the region's beer market is 1-2 percent at most, he said.
But PoliProtect recently was used successfully in central Europe, where it provided 36 percent total chain cost savings for a regional brewer using 15-ounce bottles. Adlam declined to identify the brewer, but his presentation included an image of Burger, a beer brand from Romania.
Advantages of making the switch from glass to PET, according to Adlam, include lower freight costs, easier warehousing of smaller plastic preforms vs. full-size bottles and no breakage during filling or shipping.
Dutch brewer Royal Grolsch NV also is using PoliProtect in its Cheersch-brand mini-keg. The material provides the mini-keg with a six-month shelf life and also can be used to market the brand, Adlam said.
Depending on bottle size, Adlam said, PoliProtect can offer shelf life of up to six months. The material uses a nylon resin developed exclusively for M&G by BASF SE of Ludwigshafen, Germany. The amount of nylon can be increased to extend shelf life and reduce haze, but Adlam said that is not necessary in standard grades of PoliProtect.
Two grades of PoliProtect now are available an active/passive grade for beer and a grade for juice and other food applications. The material also is fully recyclable.
PoliProtect can meet brewer requirements, Adlam said. Now we have to show that PET can lead to market growth.
It's time to capitalize on a cost-saving, profit-generating, environmentally friendly package.
Major brewers including InBev, Carlsberg and Heineken also have used PET in beer markets in Europe and Asia, according to Adlam. In central Europe, 35 percent of beer already is sold in PET bottles, while in South Korea, PET's market share is 25 percent. PET also holds a market share of more than 50 percent in Russia, but PET bottles sold in that market have no barrier layer.
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