On the road again

Covering the world of packaging necessitates traveling to plants and functions beyond the borders of the United States. During the last week of August, this editor enjoyed the opportunity to visit packaging facilities in Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, and Austria.

The focus of the trip was to report on aseptic packaging equipment used primarily to produce juices for European markets. Feature articles on those applications will be published in future issues of Packaging World, and subsequently at this site.

Perhaps the most unusual application spotted during a visit was in Austria, where a beverage producer used its aseptic equipment to contract-fill vodka into spouted, paperboard gable-top cartons for a customer in Russia.

Following the visit, host/translator/chauffeur Werner Basler of Elopak Plastic Systems drove us back to Zürich, Switzerland. Along the way, we stopped in Appenzell, a sparsely populated village in Northeastern Switzerland. While Appenzell serves as the center of two Swiss cantons, or counties, the primarily farming community is often the brunt of jokes for its rural traditions. One Web site about Switzerland says, "Appenzellerland is regarded by cosmopolitan urbanites as the epitome of country-bumpkinness and is mercilessly mocked for its folksy ways." That may be so, but this editor found the picturesque center square and beautifully painted buildings rather stunning.

Thanks to Herr Basler’s new Canon digital camera, we bring you these "exclusive" images. The first shows this editor "standing in the rain" on a street nestled within one of Appenzell’s main shopping areas. The other photos show one of the country’s storied traditions called "Alpabzug," or moving down from the mountain's alpine pastures. This occurs in late summer when herdsmen and their families, cows, and sheep descend from alpine pastures to their villages for the winter. Children dress in colorful, traditional costumes, men yodel, and cows are adorned with bells and flowers. The owner or elder family member follows with a cart or wagon of freshly produced cheeses. Automobiles yield to this special, festive procession. Herr Basler said he’s only witnessed this tradition about three times in his lifetime. We were fortunate to see two such events in one day. Next Spring, the procession will go back up the mountains in an event referred to as "Alpaufzug."

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