Packaging issues can't be overlooked

An August 30 Wall Street Journal profile of Pepsi's woes in Brazil is a reminder of how critical a role packaging can play in the international cola wars.

The front page story described how Pepsi's Argentinian "superbottler," Buenos Aires Embotel-ladora SA, or Baesa, is facing insolvency. Though certainly not the only cause for the collapse, Baesa's packaging decisions didn't help, the article said. Instead of the common returnable glass bottles, Baesa packed new products in cans and plastic containers. The article also said that according to former Pepsi officials, new bottling lines were installed hastily and workers trained poorly, resulting in the lines being shut down frequently. "Even now," the story says, "Baesa discards roughly 10 times as many bent or punctured cans as competing bottlers do, industry executives say." The article goes on to say that it isn't clear just what steps Pepsi will take to turn Baesa around.

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