Coping with change

At independent Pepsi bottler Browning Harvey Ltd. in St. Johns, Newfoundland, plant manager Gary Williams recently eliminated the hassle of inventorying returnable plastic shells for PET bottles. (This story will run in an upcoming issue.) Here Gary talks about the challenge of change in the overall packaging landscape.

Pw 10786 Browning Harvey Qa

PW: What kind of adjustments have you had to contend with lately?

Williams: We’ve been seeing a steady push for innovation. There is so much more variety in pack size and flavor. Secondary pack configurations have changed a lot, too.

PW: Why has this come about?

Williams: It’s one way of helping to drive sales. The carbonated soft drink business has had to face some serious challenges as society goes through certain changes. Bottled water is perhaps the prime example. A few years ago, few people drank bottled water. Now it seems everyone does. So our industry tries to innovate its way into a position that helps us stay competitive.

PW: Who needs to bring that innovation forward, independent bottlers like yourselves or Pepsi?

Williams: Well, we both do. What we have to do regionally and locally here at Browning Harvey is stay attuned to local market conditions as we implement changes that come about.

PW: How about other challenges you face?

Williams: Producer responsibility issues aimed at reducing solid waste require some monitoring. And what about pricing? The cost of PET doesn’t appear to be coming down any time soon, so we have to optimize our operations elsewhere to try to compensate. Bottle weights are one example. We’re now considering a change in the weight of our preforms. We blow all our own bottles here on site, but PET preforms we buy, and lightweighting them could be something we look at soon. Downgauging the shrink film we use to multipack our bottles is another thing we are looking at. —Pat Reynolds

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