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Article | July 31, 1995
Packaging pros take Greeley's advice and "Go West!"
If you want to test new packaging concepts, evaluate the latest in packaging technology or determine what new consumer packaging ideas are likely to be flowing through the American manufacturing-to-consumption pipeline in the next year or so, go West now.
Get big, get focused or get out The packaging supplier trend to "get big, find a niche or get out" of the business is intensifying this summer with several big international deals announced and others being talked about: * Crown Cork & Seal Co. (Philadelphia, PA). Growing over the last few years from merely big to VERY BIG, Crown is merging Carnaud-Metalbox SA (Paris, France) into its operations. The deal will make it more than twice as big as Toyo Seikan Kaisha (Tokyo, Japan) which, with $5 billion in sales, used to be considered a pretty big outfit in its own right. The Crown/CMB niches: metal cans, plastic bottles, can making/handling systems, closures. * Saint-Gobain SA (Paris, France). Partnering with Ball Corp. (Muncie, IN), Saint-Gobain is buying Ball Glass Container Corp. and Foster-Forbes Glass Co. (Marion, IN) to become the world's largest glass container producer and just a little smaller in North America than Owens-Illinois, Inc. (Toledo, OH). * Pechiney SA (Paris, France). Pechiney is getting out of the glass business with the sale of Foster-Forbes to the Saint-Gobain/Ball joint venture. It is also taking American National Can Co. (Chicago, IL) out of the food can business with the sale of those operations to Silgan Holdings, Inc. (Stamford, CT). ANC now has two niches: aluminum beverage cans and flexible packaging. Silgan, a company that didn't even exist nine years ago, is now America's biggest food can producer. And, through a series of strategic acquisitions, Silgan is now also a major player in its other niche: plastic bottles. The trend among packaging suppliers to get big, get focused or get out is a mixed blessing for packagers. On the one hand, bigger suppliers generally have more purchasing clout, offer more technical assistance and operate in wider geographic areas. On the other hand, mega-suppliers generally prefer to do business with mega buyers. They're also less willing to shave pennies to gain or keep contracts. The biggest complaint small packagers have about big suppliers is that, in their quest to satisfy the demands of their biggest customers, mega-suppliers are less interested in meeting their short run and unique specifications. Packaging machinery sales trends U.S. packaging machinery shipments rose approximately 12% to reach an estimated $3.79 billion last year and, according to the Packaging Machinery Manufacturers Institute (Arlington, VA) per plant expenditures for packaging equipment should rise 11.6% this year. The data, developed in separate studies of packaging machinery manufacturers and buyers, indicate that bar code printers and scanners, shipping container coding/dating/marking/ stamping units, preprinted label applicators and bag sealers are the most frequently purchased equipment types. Learn about packaging innovation at The Packaging Conference in Orlando, February 3-5, 2014
You'd be well served to take the nineteenth-century advice of New York newspaper man Horace Greeley, who said, "Go West, young man!" Nineteenth and (almost) 21st century America have little in common (Ah, this Miyares... He really is the master of understatement). Nevertheless, packagers and their suppliers still consider Greeley's charge good advice. With the advent this Fall of Pack Expo West (October 9-12, in Las Vegas, in case that fact somehow slipped your notice elsewhere in this issue) and WestPack (October 17-19, in Anaheim), thousands of packaging professionals - young and old, men and women - will be heading West to demonstrate, evaluate and create packaging opportunities. Many of those who are heading West for the shows will be stopping in Texas, Arizona, Colorado, Nebraska, Oregon, Washington and other West-of-the Mississippi markets to conduct retail audits of what's new. In the last year or so, somefavorite western test sites (and the packages that emerged there) have included: * Tulsa and Oklahoma City, OK, where the pre-teen set is now finding Pepsi's Smooth Moos dairy shakes (see PW, July, '95, p.2) in 9.5-oz glass bottles from Anchor Glass Container Corp. (Tampa, FL) carrying PVC shrink sleeve labels from American Fuji Seal (Bardstown, KY); * Denver, CO, where consumers are still among the few to savor Hormel's Jennie-O frozen meat entrees in pressed paperboard trays from Pressware International, Inc. (Columbus, OH) lined with quick heating and browning liners and sealed with surface crisping film lids from Beckett Technologies Corp. (Mississauga, Ontario, Canada); * St. Louis, MO, Phoenix, AZ, and Houston, TX, where liquid "freeze 'em and drink 'em" cocktail slurries from Brown-Forman Distillers debuted in laminated foil pouches developed by Lawson Mardon Flexible, Inc. (Arlington, Heights, IL); * Boise, ID; Portland, OR, and Olympia, WA, where P&G first figured it could keep 2.5 million lb of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) a year out of landfills with its lightweight, square-footed Crisco oil bottles developed in cooperation with Continental PET Technologies, Inc., (Florence, KY); * Omaha, NE; Salt Lake City, UT; Spokane and Seattle, WA, and Phoenix, AZ, where Pepsi took the time to test open dating of its cans and bottles; * Dallas, TX, where Procter & Gamble first introduced the concept of big, flat-bottom bags made of recycled polyethylene film from Paramount Packaging Corp. (Chalfont, PA) for its Tide and Cheer powdered detergents. Today the packages that can profitably blaze trails from the R&D labs into the hearts and homes of Western consumers are the ones most likely to carry their brands into the wide-open American marketplace tomorrow.
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