Plastic drum and pail manufacturer CDF Corp. of Plymouth, Mass., recently entered into a partnership with packaging suppliers Guala Closures SpA of Alessandria, Italy, and Hosokawa Yoko Co. Ltd. of Tokyo, to create Cheer Pack North America LLC.
The new firm, based in Plymouth, will develop and support spouted packaging technology for North American markets in multilayer laminate gusseted films.
In addition to its 100,000-square-foot heat-sealing, blow molding and thermoforming facility in Plymouth, CDF has invested in a second, 109,000-square-foot facility for Cheer Pack production.
Steve Gosling, technical director at CDF, recently was named president of Cheer Pack North America. Plastics News reporter Dan Hockensmith interviewed Gosling by telephone July 9 to get a better sense of where the new company may be headed.
Q: Could you elaborate on how the collaboration came about between CDF, Gualapack and Hosokawa Yoko?
Gosling: Several years ago, were introduced to Hosokawa Yoko in Japan, because they had the Cheertainer [bag-in-box] product, something that we got into a license agreement on. We now manufacture that product in the United States and in Europe, and we have a patent on that product in quite a number of countries.
Hosokawa Yoko is a flexible packaging firm [with] 700 employees [and] four plants; and one of their other products was Cheer Pack, which is a stand-up pouch with a spout on it. We were asked if we would like to start looking at [marketing] Cheer Pack. From there, Gualapack got involved, because Gualapack was also a licensee of Hosokawa Yoko for the Cheer Pack product. So then we brought all three companies together [to create Cheer Pack North America]. CDF has 40 percent ownership and Hosokawa Yoko and Gualapack are both 30 percent owners.
Q: What is Gualapack's role in the manufacturing process?
Gosling: Gualapack is a full manufacturing facility, so they do printing, laminating, converting, injection molding and make the pouch, just as Hosokawa Yoko does. So we're 100 percent integrated in both Europe and Asia.
Q: Who actually invented Cheer Pack?
Gosling: The side gusset which is really what the Cheer Pack is, not the bottom gusset was developed 20 years ago by Toru Ichikawa [managing director of Hosokawa Yoko]. In Japan, we just had the 20-year [anniversary].
What's interesting is that this year, Gualapack is closing in on [manufacturing] 700 million of these pouches [annually] for Europe, and Hosokawa Yoko is up to around 550 million pieces [annually] in Asia. So it's over a billion pouches [annually] for those two.
CDF/Cheer Pack North America just incorporated. This year we're going to start injection molding in the states; the whole plan is to become a North American manufacturing facility. Probably in the first half [of 2011], we're going to start converting, and as time goes on and we hit more of the tipping points, we'll start to manufacture more and more of this product in the U.S.
Q: Will Cheer Pack's manufacturing facilities be in the same buildings as CDF?
Gosling: Yes. Because of the synergy with CDF, we've got the ability to tie into that expertise. But Cheer Pack North America stands on its own. We're using quite a number of the staff from CDF [for sales, marketing and accounting].
Q: What are the best end markets likely to be for Cheer Pack products?
Gosling: Ninety-five percent of it is going to be food. Purees, baby food, and then we're doing as lot of organic, natural products, no sugar added. Selling in Whole Foods [Market] and some of the bigger stores. We've already got two of our customers in Whole Foods; once the Whole Foods people see how well that's doing, they're probably going to want to put their own brand [products] in it. We have Cheer Packs for Plum Organics; You've got Dole in Canada running three of their applesauce products in it. We've got Happy Baby running baby food.
Q: In the packaging industry, as you know, two big topics of discussion recently have been sustainability and keeping costs low. How did you address those issues in the development of new Cheer Pack packaging?
Gosling: If we look at the baby food category, for example, there's still a lot of glass being used [in packaging]. When we look at the containerization of our package compared to glass, it's about a seven-to-one-ratio on the trucks. So sustainability [benefits are] that there's less greenhouse gases, less truck movements, less skid movements within a facility.
Q: Where do you see Cheer Pack in a year?
Gosling: It seems to be growing exponentially, so we'll double [sales] next year. It's interesting that Europe and Asia have been using this packaging for 20 years, and in North America, spouted pouches have been used for refills like Windex but not for foodstuffs. I think we're on to something.
Even if you look in the grocery store, at standup pouches with zippers for dry goods, it's interesting [to see] the difference between five years ago and today. I envision the same thing for spouts. Our customers on the baby food side envision a baby food aisle with no glass.
Copyright 2010 Crain Communications Inc. All Rights Reserved.