Berry Global is currently Ranked 358 in the Fortune 500 list, with the firm generating $8.8bn in 2019, up by 13% from the previous year


Berry Global was founded in 1967 as Imperial Plastics in the Indiana city of Evansville (Credit: Berry Global)

For more than 50 years, Berry Global has been one of the world’s leading plastics packaging companies.

Ranked 358 in the Fortune 500 list, in 2019 the firm generated $8.8bn in net sales, up by more than a $1bn from the previous year.

In addition to this, its operating income was at $974m, a 28% change from the $761m it recorded in 2018.

From the history of the company to how it’s supporting the regions it operates in during Covid-19, NS Packaging looks at how Berry Global has become the business it is today.


History of Berry Global

Berry Global was founded in 1967 as Imperial Plastics in the Indiana city of Evansville.

Initially set up as an injection molding company, the firm entered the plastics container market in 1972.

By the middle of the 1970s, it had developed into a firm with a reputation for high-quality products in the plastics industry.

In 1983, entrepreneur Jack Berry Sr purchased Imperial Plastics, leading to the firm being renamed Berry Plastics.

Five years later, it completed more than 40 acquisitions, including the purchase of aerosol overcaps manufacturer Gilbert Plastics.

In 1990, Jack Berry Sr sold the company’s assets to an equity investment fund managed by First Atlantic Capital.

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In 2012, the firm began trading on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol BERY (Credit: Pixabay)

This new injection of funding enabled the business to accelerate its growth, with the first result of this partnership being the acquisition of Mammoth Containers in 1992.

Four years later, Berry Plastics acquired all the assets of Container Industries, a manufacturer of injection-molded industrial plastic containers for industrial products and markets.

In 2012, the firm began trading on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol BERY – with it changing its name to Berry Global in 2017.

Two years later, Berry Global purchased UK-based plastics producer RPC Group in a deal worth £5bn ($6.6bn).

Speaking at the time, RPC Group chairman Jamie Pike said: “The combination of RPC and Berry would create a leading global plastics product design and engineering company and represents a strong strategic fit.

“Both companies are highly complementary in terms of product portfolio, customer base, polymer conversion technologies and geographic footprint.”


What types of plastics does Berry Global manufacture?

Berry Global has a long history of packaging manufacturing, giving the firm the ability to meet and exceed customer needs – with it predominantly involved in either flexible or rigid packaging.

The flexible products it offers include a range of film types – such as for the stretch, food, shrink and supermarket sectors – as well as custom items such as polyethylene bags.

It is also the manufacturer of Rigid Lens II, which utilises hybrid packaging – a mix of rigid and flexible – to provide businesses with a product backed by consumers.

It provides a hinge designed to enable access to ensure the lid stays open throughout use, it has a hermetic seal and consistent closure, and a high-speed die cut with the application on flow wrap.

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Berry Global is predominantly involved in either flexible or rigid packaging (Credit: Shutterstock/AlexandrinaZ)

In terms of rigid packaging, the company develops containers, drink cups, bottles, closures, overcaps, pharmacy and vials, jars, tubes, and strawless lids.

It also produces the Luxe seal – a proprietary, embossed, induction seal liner with a folded pull tab that provides differentiation and ease of use for consumers.

The firm has more than 290 global locations based in Europe, Africa, Oceania, as well as north and south America.

As of the end of the 2019 fiscal year, Berry Global employed approximately 48,000 members of staff.

At the top of the company is its chief executive officer and director chairman of the board Tom Salmon, who has been in the role since 2017.


How Berry is making its plastic packaging more sustainable

Like many in the packaging industry, Berry Global has in recent years placed a lot of its focus as a business on making its products more sustainable.

In 2019, the company launched its Impact 2025 initiative, which focused on increasing the positive impact through its products, performance and partners.

It aims to support its broader sustainability efforts by minimising the impact of its products, maximise its positive impacts, and reduce its operational impacts.

To minimise the impact of the products, it has been lightweighting its items and designing them to be 100% reusable, recyclable or compostable.

It’s also looking to achieve 10% recycled content across fast-moving consumer goods in its packaging and encourage the development of renewable materials.

Berry Global is looking to increase its use of renewable energy (Credit: Pixabay)

To maximise the positive impact it can have, it’s expanding and modernising waste infrastructure to increase recovery and prevent loss of plastic into the environment, and engage the plastic industry through Operation Clean Sweep (OCS).

OSC is a campaign group dedicated to helping every plastic resin handling operation achieve zero pellets, flake and powder loss.

Alongside this, it’s looking to increase its use of renewable energy, expand the use of plastic in place of alternative materials, and promote science-based targets.

As for minimising its operational impacts, Berry Global wants to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 25% by 2025 – based on the company’s 2016 baseline.

Added to that, it aims to reduce the amount of waste it sends to landfill by 5% per year and bring down its energy and water consumption by 1% per year.


How the plastic packaging giant is coping with Covid-19

At the start of the Covid-19 pandemic towards the end of March 2020, Berry Global CEO Salmon wrote an open letter to all of the firm’s customers – outlining that the business would continue its production.

He did, however, state the company would be “going above and beyond” its good manufacturing practices to promote hygiene and safety amongst its employees.

In addition to this, the company designated additional capacity for the production of face mask materials in North America and Europe.

In the US, its line manufactures materials used in surgical-grade face masks along with N95 and N99 respirators.

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Berry Global has designated additional capacity for the production of face mask materials in North America and Europe (Credit: Pixabay)

The added capacity will support the development of approximately 200 million face masks annually.

In Europe, Berry launched an extension to its Synergex range of products developed to meet the new face masks categories for the general population.

In addition to this, Berry Global is also developing materials for protective healthcare apparel, as well as packaging for food preservation and disinfecting products.