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Bouillon goes to logistics-friendly PET jars

Unilever Foods North America, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, has converted its Hispanic line of Knorr-brand chicken-, beef-, and tomato-flavored granular bouillon products from glass jar packaging to PET jars in four sizes (100g, 225g, 450g and 1-kilo).

Amcor PET Packaging supplies the jars.

Unilever had filled the glass jars in Mexico supplying Central American and U.S. markets from there. But growing U.S. demand for the Knorr bouillons prompted a reconsideration of the manufacturing and packaging location as well as a re-evaluation of the container structure.

Tiziano Bellon packaging group manager for Unilever Foods North America notes “It was determined that we wanted something lighter and easier to handle. Shipping glass from Mexico was a concern. Long lead times and delivery motivated us to look at relocating our manufacturing to the U.S.”

The company decided to switch to PET jars seizing the opportunity to have the jars manufactured at Amcor’s Kansas City MO plant. Knorr staffers worked with Amcor engineers to develop the new jar profile. Bellon says “Our glass jar was easily recognizable by our Hispanic customers. So in developing the PET jar we wanted to end up with a similar appearance and shelf impression.” Package designers chose amber-colored PET that helps protect the shelf life of the light-sensitive product.

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The new jar dimensions also had to accommodate large labels that carry bilingual ingredient listings and usage instructions. The labels made of 60-lb paper are supplied by Fort Dearborn and applied using hot melt adhesives via Krones high-speed wraparound labeling machinery.

The PET jars are filled on multihead rotary filling equipment from Nalbach. They are then induction sealed with foil/plastic membrane lidding via in-line induction sealing equipment from Lepel and capped with plastic closures from Silgan using multihead rotary capping equipment from Pneumatic Scale.

The new lightweight unbreakable consumer-safe PET jars entered distribution in February 2005 with staged rollout of various jar sizes and bouillon flavors over the next few months.

Bellon notes “We are now filling the PET jars at our plant in Independence MO. The plant logistics are very good—the PET containers are being manufactured only an hour away. Amcor’s engineering personnel were professional and helped us develop the right container for our product.” —Judy Rice

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