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PET spreads to mayonnaise (sidebar)

Kraft, Bestfoods differ on PET's use with mayo

Pw 21762 Besontheoth 1

Northfield, IL-based Kraft Foods and Bestfoods, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, are the major national mayonnaise manufacturers. Their respective brands, Kraft, and Hellmann's and Best Foods, dominate shelf space in this product category. But where do these leaders stand on the PET/glass issue? In 1990, Kraft introduced a 48-oz size of mayonnaise in a PET container (shown). Three years later PET was used for a 60-oz size; a 10-oz squeezable PET container is available. All are sold at retail nationwide. A Kraft Foods spokeswoman would not reveal if the company had plans to launch a 32-oz or smaller size in PET. Issues related to PET bottle filling and economics are considered proprietary. Conservative stance Bestfoods, on the other hand, is still evaluating PET for 32-oz sizes of mayo. In determining which material to use, "we focus strongly on the overall economics," says Steve Sondey, supply manager for Bestfoods. "We look at total delivered costs, and that includes purchase price for the material, the capital investment dollars for the molds to make the bottles, line efficiencies, distribution and freight costs." What concerns Sondey about PET "is the base cost of the resin. It tends to fluctuate drastically compared to glass." When asked, Sondey says Bestfoods "has explored hedging" as a way to smooth out PET costs, "but we've just scratched the surface. We're analyzing hedging, but we haven't become involved in any programs." (See PW, August, '98, page 66.) To this point, he says, "we're just not seeing PET as being that much more advantageous from a cost standpoint versus glass." Still, Bestfoods is no stranger to PET. It already packs salad dressings, edible oil and peanut butter in PET. "We continue to evaluate the overall situation, and we're weighing PET's use with mayonnaise on a size-by-size basis," Sondey notes. "But we can't specifically identify if we have any projects on the drawing board."

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