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Gabletop proves Fruitful for foodservice

Damon Industries begins packing juice and drink concentrates in gabletop cartons for foodservice accounts out West. A retail version is possible next year. Contract packers will help expand sales nationwide within five years.
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In April Sparks NV-based Damon Industries began shipping limited quantities of its Fruitful(TM) brand of juice and drink concentrates to foodservice accounts in shelf-stable gabletop cartons. By this time next year that package may help Damon introduce Fruitful to the retail market as well. The company sells more than 200 product varieties. All are concentrates sold to foodservice customers primarily in bag-in-box configurations. "We began selling this particular line of Fruitful juice and drink-mix concentrates in metal cans" explains Doug Damon company president. "The can had disadvantages when it came to storage handling disposal freight opening cost to produce and efficiency." The #21/2 can measured 401 (41/16" in diameter) x 411 (411/16" H). It held 25.6 oz of product and required the user to mix the concentrate with four cans of water to produce a gallon of juice or drink. The new carton meanwhile holds 21.5 oz and is mixed with five cartons of water to produce the same gallon. International Paper's Liquid Packaging Div. (Memphis TN) provides the seven-layer coextruded plastic/paperboard structure that IP refers to as modified Barrier-Pak(TM). The material prevents flavor and vitamin adsorption into carton sidewalls. The filled and sealed carton stands approximately 61/2" H x 23/4" W x 23/4" D. Cartons are printed flexographically in four colors. What are the economics? "The cartons generate about a fifty percent economic savings compared with the large cans we used previously" says Damon. In both instances Damon cold-filled the containers using sodium benzoate as a preservative to "provide the same sixty-day shelf life from date of manufacture" he notes. Faster filling In the past Damon Industries filled the cans in-house. "We invested in some rebuilt 'industrial revolution'-type equipment to do the job" Damon jests. The company made that investment so that it could fill orders such as one for the California State Prison System last year. "We knew there were more sophisticated can filling lines but our line was really slow" he says. "We were lucky to fill sixty a minute. We decided there had to be a better way." Damon turned to nearby Model Dairy (Reno NV) for an answer. "At the time we approached them with our concentrate filling situation they were working with International Paper [for other dairy and juice containers they fill]. They recommended the gabletop so it was a natural for us to switch to that container." Model Dairy general manager Kelly Kading tells PW "From previous experience we knew the Barrier-Pak cartons performed well and we had the equipment to erect fill and seal the cartons so we recommended it to Damon." IP ships carton blanks to Model Dairy where they're loaded into the magazine of a Q-11 gabletop filler from Evergreen Packaging Equipment (Cedar Rapids IA). The machine opens the blank heat-seals the bottom and fills cartons at rates of 150/min more than twice as fast as Damon filled the cans. After filling the Evergreen machine heat-seals carton tops. Twelve cartons are automatically packed into corrugated shippers. Damon Industries sends trucks to Model Dairy to pick up and ship pallet quantities. Seeking CPs Damon Industries now packs about 20 varieties in the gabletop. Its market is the Western U.S. "We want to have total national coverage of our brand or a comparable private label in the U.S. and Canada within five years" says Damon. "We hope to include foodservice companies the military governmental entities and eventually retail markets as venues for our gabletop product." To reach that goal the company plans to farm out filling to contract packers. Why? "The first advantage for us is that we don't have to ship finished product from Reno all the way to the East Coast. We can hire a firm in a specific geographic area to fill product. That will cut down on our freight costs dramatically. "Another advantage to using contract packers is that we'll have virtually unlimited capacity" he adds. "If this product takes off either in foodservice or retail we're going to need capacity. Also we don't need to buy packaging equipment." Fruitful's future looks promising. "So far the trade is very enthusiastic. The gabletop has replaced the can for these products and we no longer use the can line for anything" Damon concludes.

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