Amcor Rigid Plastics is launching a new business approach designed to give the same kind of services to smaller beverage companies that the container maker currently provides the big players in the industry.
The company's UpStart program includes a network of four locations in the United States to serve lower volume or niche companies.
“One of the noted trends, and I don't believe this is a surprise to anybody, especially in the beverage industry, is there's a lot more beverages out there than there used to be,” said Michael Hodges, director of communications for the Ann Arbor, Mich.-based unit of Amcor Ltd.
“What happens is more and more customers want more and more personalized and customized type of products to meet their needs. Everybody has a unique need,” he said.
Smaller beverage companies, with their lower volumes, can find it difficult to pay for the tooling required to create a unique package for their products. One way around that economic hurdle is to use stock bottles with customized labels to help build a brand identity
But Amcor Rigid Plastics said UpStart can lower tooling and equipment costs by up to 75 percent by changing its approach for these smaller companies.
The key is using smaller cavitation systems, because these smaller companies do not need the volume of their larger brethren.
But making that change sounds easier than it actually is for a company the size of Amcor, which is a large company used to serving other large companies.
“We've been seeing this trend emerge, probably for the last five years,” Hodges said about the growing popularity of niche beverages. “But it's one of those things you have to figure out. How do we address the market? How do we help this when our systems are geared toward large volumes?” he said.
In the past, the packaging company would try to help the best it could using its existing infrastructure. But, now, the firm has dedicated four sites in Chino, Calif.; Allentown, Pa.; Wytheville, Va., and Ames, Iowa, to work with smaller-volume beverage companies.
While UpStart aims to help smaller and niche beverage companies, the company said it can also help larger brand owners as they launch new products.
Alkaline Water Co. Inc. of Scottsdale, Ariz., is one of Amcor Rigid Plastic's early customers in the UpStart program. “Before, you couldn't go to Amcor and buy direct unless you were a major beverage company,” said Alkaline Water CEO Steven Nickolas in a statement. “Their assistance has allowed us to grow.”
Alkaline Water has been able to use standardized bottles produced by Amcor Rigid Plastics on both the East and West coasts to rely less on different manufacturers with different container styles, the companies said.
“What we want to do is try to meet the needs and get people into the market with a branded bottle a very efficient price,” Hodges said.