Packaging giant Berry Plastics Group Inc. is putting a greater emphasis on rigid barrier packaging as a way to help drive sales growth.
The move is not only designed to help take business from other substrates, such as glass and metal, but also extend the company's reach into the plastics packaging business.
Evansville, Ind.-based Berry Plastics has been in the barrier packaging business on the flexibles side since 2009. Now the company is putting more resources into creating a larger business in the rigid packaging segment.
“It's an important part of our portfolio. And we see it as a significant growth lever in our business,” said Jason Paladino, executive vice president of research and development for Berry Plastics.
“As we look at the trends in the marketplace, I think we've committed a significant amount of research and development effort and science around materials and developing barrier solutions,” he said.
“The research and development cycle is such that it takes some time for those investments to bear some fruit. And that's where we're seeing our commercializations now starting to roll into the marketplace. Capital investments we've made over the past couple of years now gaining some momentum and critical mass,” Paladino said.
Market trends such as freshness, extended shelf life and substrate replacement of metal and glass have some customers looking for rigid plastic packaging options that provide barriers to address moisture, light and oxygen transmission.
“We take a holistic approach to barrier technology. It's not just oxygen barrier for the preservation of food. But it's barrier for light, for moisture, for oxygen, for all of those things. And each one of the different markets require a different science or approach to improve those properties,” Paladino said.
Berry's greater emphasis on barrier packaging comes at a time when other opportunities have leveled off.
“What are the opportunities to grow the business, especially in North America, where some of the markets are relatively flat? ... Substrate conversion is going to be a strong lever for us,” Paladino said.
“My opinion is it will become a mainstream product line,” he said about rigid barrier packaging. “I think we will see strong growth for Berry. ... Having barrier as part of that solution approach is a very important part of our portfolio.”
Berry has been known in the marketplace as a low-cost, high-volume plastic container producer. Adding the barrier capabilities to the portfolio helps the company provide more value-added offerings. “My opinion is it will become a mainstream product line,” the executive vice president said.
The growing electronic commerce trend also is helping spur interest in lighter weight plastic barrier packaging that Paladino said would improve sustainability through “substrate conversions.”
Barrier packaging joins offerings such as in-mold labeling and new printing technologies as ways Berry Plastics is looking to expand. “I think those are all very telling of how we are continuing to broaden our portfolio to those value-added solutions for our customers,” Paladino said.
“Berry has looked to innovation as a growth engine. And that's really been the catalyst for us making investments in people and technology and focusing on these other markets to find where those niches and those new emerging market opportunities are for growth,” he said.