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HDPE-based Tropicana bottles project fresh, 'local dairy' image

In the first stage of a national roll-out, coextrusion blow-molded bottles for Tropicana FruitWise smoothies are finding a place in the refrigerated cases of supermarkets in Cleveland and several other markets.

While the 10- and 30-oz bottles look like conventional homopolymer high-density polyethylene they are in fact two-layer containers: HDPE outside and nylon inside. The bottles and the injection-molded polypropylene tamper-evident closures used to seal them are produced by Owens-Brockway (Toledo OH). Both bottles carry a "7/other" resin identification code. The larger size is additionally marked "HDPE compatible." The multi-layer structure gives the FruitWise Smoothies-and a companion line of nutrient-fortified FruitWise shakes-a 63-day refrigerated shelf life. Nylon is used as the juice contact layer both to prevent flavor scalping of essential oils and to block "plastic" flavor pick-up. Both lines contain 90% to 100% juice. Tropicana is the latest in a line of marketers to capitalize on natural HDPE's fresh "local dairy" image for a line of fruit-based drinks. Coca-Cola's Minute Maid Co. (Houston TX) has been marketing a line of multipacked refrigerated juices in monolayer HDPE bottles for about a year. Earlier this year Minute Maid repacked its shelf-stable Hi-C drinks and Procter & Gamble Co. (Cincinnati OH) picked new bottles for its Hawaiian Punch. Both companies opted to replace polypropylene/ethylene vinyl alcohol (EVOH) gallons and PET half-gallons for bottles with a natural HDPE look plus the barrier of EVOH. Tropicana's bottles are labeled with seven-color lithographed low-density PE stretch labels produced by ITW Auto Sleeve (Twinsburg OH) and applied by O-B. Label choice Tropicana tells us was made to speed the product to market. Tropicana is handling initial market needs on existing filling and capping equipment at its Fort Pierce FL plant. As the roll-out expands nationally Tropicana will determine if additional filling sites are needed. Monster of the Midway Chicago's newly expanded McCormick Place is the best site in America to hold a large industrial show such as Pack Expo...but its new North/South complex needs a serious labeling upgrade (or something) to help showgoers get in out and around in the place. Badge-checking guards are always posted at exhibit entrances to prevent business encounters before and after show hours. But once you leave the show floors and enter the labyrinthine mezzanine you're on your own. Unenlightened showgoers ask their uninformed cohorts how to exit the place. They board escalators backtrack bump into each other and try to remember how they got in that morning. Ushers or guides who might be posted at every escalator entrance either don't exist or are required to vacate the premises (they know how) an hour before shows close. Posted "you are here" diagrams might as well be maps of Illinois. They don't show where the taxi and bus gates are. If you're a superior rat and-at the end of a day's trudge-you do find your way back to the gate you entered you'll discover: (A) everyone else attending the show beat you to the taxi gate and has been waiting for a half hour or more; (B) red-jacketed herdspeople/dispatchers are corralling tired confused and submissive visitors into standing-room-only buses into the city. The cacophony in the mezzanine is so intense you can't wait to reach the serenity of downtown Chicago traffic. The good news is that PMMI sponsors of Pack Expo '98 (November 8-12) is aware of the situation and is looking to apply techniques the Disney organization uses to keep thousands of daily visitors happily moving in through and out of its theme parks. Pack Expo isn't ever likely to be as much fun as Disney World but anything PMMI can do to take the hassle out of entering and exiting McCormick Place will let visitors focus their energies on their packaging tasks and make show-going a more pleasant experience.

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