ORLANDO, FLA. (April 5, 5:50 p.m. ET) — Yuanda Mould Co. Ltd. is yet another mold maker from China's “Mold Town” Taizhou, Zhejiang province. But it's different in that it's one of the few companies there that makes high-end molds for thin-wall packaging and offers the complete in-mold-labeling system, the company said.
In an interview at NPE2012, sales manger Ariel Jiang shared some unique product and market insights. The exporter expects to grow its sales by 20 percent this year.
“My observation is that the U.S. market is not at the same level as Europe, in terms of the market understanding and growth of thin-wall packaging,” Jiang said.
For example, she said, European and Chinese airlines have adapted thin-wall PS cups for drinks, whereas paper and foam cups are widely used in the US.
That might explain why the U.S. represents a mere 8 percent of Yuanda's sales. “That means a lot of growth potential.”
She said Yuanda is one of the first Chinese companies to develop and focus on thin-wall packaging.
Until five years ago, Yuanda was making large molds for crates, outdoor furniture, and consumers products. “But as competition intensified amongst Chinese exporters, everything boiled down to the competition for the lowest price.”
The company decided to take a more specialized direction. Today it makes molds for thin-wall IML food containers and paint/coating containers. About 70 percent of the products are shipped to Europe.
A buyer stopped by the booth during the interview and asked for a quote for a crate mold. “More than half of the inquires are about molds for crates. I really hope to see more interest in thin-wall packaging,” she said.
“Maybe it's just the lifestyle and social habits in the U.S.,” she said. “Maybe American consumers prefer paper cups and have the misconception that paper is more sustainable than plastic cups. Maybe there are plenty of trees here for making paper, very different from Europe or China.”
Interestingly enough, she mentioned warming demand for thin-wall packaging in less developed economies such as India. “It's actually simple. With the environmental pollution and overall sanitation level there, the rising middle class consumers demand better packaged food and drinks to ensure safety. That's where thin-wall packaging comes in.”
Perhaps for a similar reason, Yuanda is starting to take domestic orders in China. But Jiang explains, “more and more packaging manufactures in China are using Western-brand, high-speed machines, which require better molds. We offer that.”
Jiang said its molds cost about a third of the prices of similar molds made in Europe. “But our prices don't have advantages over other Chinese companies.”
When asked about risings cost in China, she said small molds can be made in the U.S. in a pretty cost-effective manner, but not the larger molds that require substantial amounts of labor.
The company also runs a molding unit that makes proprietary products — such as the plastic casing for medical devices — for OEMs, mostly in Europe and Australia.
Yuanda reports annual sales 30 million yuan ($5 million) on the mold making side and about the same amount for the molding unit. It employs more than 120.