Friedrichshafen, Germany — Milacron Holdings Corp.'s see-through plastic container, an alternative to the metal "tin can," is now on store shelves in Seoul, South Korea, and Shanghai, holding Del Monte pineapple chunks and slices.
The customer is S&W Fine Foods International, a company of Del Monte Pacific Ltd. Milacron CEO Tom Goeke said Del Monte bought a Ferromatik Milacron injection molding machine with 280 tons of clamping force to run Klear Cans on a four-cavity mold.
Milacron announced the first commercial applications of the coinjection molded Klear Can on Oct. 18 at the Fakuma trade show in Friedrichshafen. Goeke also highlighted the Klear Can news in Milacron's third quarter conference call to financial analysts on Oct. 26.
Early in the call, Goeke told analysts: "The product generated significant buzz at the show, and the product introduction in Shanghai and Seoul was a great success."
The molding machine bought by Del Monte Pacific is able to turn out 12 million cans a year. In the third quarter conference call, Goeke said the Del Monte line is a small "startup system" that costs less than $2 million.
He said machines that can turn out 70 to 80 million Klear Cans a year are about twice that price, but give far higher output.
"As capacity expands, I'm sure they'll be moving to a larger system," Goeke said of Del Monte.
Since the news was just announced, the Klear Can sales do not appear in Milacron's third-quarter results, and Goeke told analysts the company did not include prospects for the see-through can in its forecasts. Milacron is traded on the New York Stock Exchange.
"We believe that the technology has a tremendous amount of opportunity," he said.
The market is huge. Goeke said that if the Klear Can could capture just 1 percent of the 75 billion metal cans produced a year, that would require 30 or 40 Klear Can production lines.
Nobody really knows how many metal food cans are made each year. Other estimates range from 30 billion to 50 billion. The first cans were developed more than two centuries ago, according to the Can Manufacturers Institute.
But in an interview at Fakuma, Goeke said a plastic food container that can show consumers what's inside is a "major breakthrough in packaging." Milacron spent about two years working with Del Monte on the Klear Can application, he said.
He said the food company is doing a major rollout of the see-through cans in Seoul, and Shanghai. After Asia, the next step will be launching the new cans in Europe.
The timing of the Klear Can news at Del Monte Pacific, during Fakuma, was a coincidence. Goeke said Del Monte would not allow Milacron to say anything about the new pineapple packaging until it was actually on store shelves. Plastics News had reported last year that Del Monte Pacific was working to commercialize the Klear Can, but Milacron officials had declined to comment.
That was until Oct. 18. Milacron officials scrambled to promote the Klear Can news at Fakuma, the second day of the trade show. A large video screen at Milacron's booth touted the Del Monte news and Milacron also had the pineapple cans at the show.