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Brewers turn to PET bottles, wide-mouth cans

A six-month shelf life is claimed for amber 1-L bottles of polyethylene terephthalate holding dark beers produced and marketed by Canada's Algonquin Brewing Co., Ltd., Mississauga, Ont.
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Another Canadian microbrewer Quinte Brewing Belleville Ont. uses a 500-mL amber PET bottle for several beers it distributes regionally.

The shelf life is what makes the Algonquin packaging so intriguing. Purchased from distributor Wine Bottle & Packaging Inc. (Etobicoke Ontario Canada) the bottles are injection blow molded by Agra Plastics Ltd. (Mississauga Ontario Canada). They carry poly-coated paper labels and are sealed with roll-on aluminum closures.

"Our PET line runs a bit slower than our glass bottle line" Algonquin quality assurance manager Rick Symslo tells Packaging World.

Domestically Algonquin's PET bottles are considered "specialty items" and are stocked in outlets controlled by the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO). But the export market is most important for the PET bottles. Distributed unrefrigerated the dark beers are coded for the same life-expectancy claimed for its glass bottles. It's considered long enough for the beers to make the 28-day sea voyage to Taiwan where they have been on the market for more than a year now.

Introduced to Buffalo NY less than two years ago Algonquin's PET-bottled brews are now available in about a dozen states. The PET bottles account for 8 to 10% of the brewery's sales. "That is all incremental sales" says Algonquin Vice President Allen Sneath with satisfaction.

As Canadian brewers test PET Milwaukee-based Miller is exploring large-opening ends on cans of Miller Lite and Miller Genuine Draft. All Miller brands in 10- 12- and 16-oz sizes with 204 ends are being converted to the LOE this summer. The launch follows last summer's nationwide rollout of a large-mouth opening for the 209 end on the 24-oz can. Can ends and bodies are from Reynolds Metals (Richmond VA).

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