Packaging Today International's series of feature articles on some of the mainstream exhibitors at Total Processing & Packaging 2004 continues with news of Elopak's innovative approach to the dairy and fruit juice markets. Mary Murphy reports

Changing consumer behaviour with high spending youngsters leading the charge is having a major impact on the big names among the world’s leading dairy and fruit juice producers.

Elopak with its Pure-Pak liquid carton focus was quick to recognise the trends and in early 2000 established Elopak Plastic Systems (EPS) to manufacture HDPE and PET containers. Manufactured using a complete systems approach, the offering creates real choice for customers, states the company.

“The market is calling for robust and recloseable lightweight containers”, says Werner Basler, marketing director for Switzerland-based EPS. “And this is true, not just of the young but also of the more mature yet ‘young at heart’ consumer”.

Innovation is the driving force behind all of Elopak’s businesses, according to Børge Kvamme, executive vice-president for Europe, Middle East and Africa and head of the innovation board.

“Our goal is to create the right environment for fostering innovation and we will actively pursue packaging innovation – shapes, sizes, prints, opening devices, closures, new barrier boards, new plastic bottle solutions – in order to continuously develop our product portfolio.

“Innovation in processing, filling, and material handling that will increase profitability, reduce costs and raise productivity for our customers will also be part of our scope.”

It is against this background that EPS and its sister business units, Unifill, Elopouch and the caps and closures business for the Pure-Pak liquid carton range, is taking a 200m stand at Total in 2004.

Basler believes that the complexity of its total systems approach can best be expressed at a “professional show where visitors from our target markets will be present”.

Special features on the stand include the EPS offering for hole-through-the-wall (HTW) manufacture of HDPE and PET bottles and the new generation of Elofill filling machines that offer validated ‘state-of-the-art’ filling technology through linear and rotary – clean and ultra clean – bottling machinery. Also on show will be a wide range of bottles for fresh, extended shelf-life and aseptic applications for the dairy, juice and non-carbonated drinks markets.

The idea behind the HTW operations management system is to take the strain out of customers’ production needs, states Basler. EPS takes complete responsibility for the production and supply of bottles ‘through-the-wall’ to the customer’s filling hall. The concept covers installation, commissioning, supply of PET and HDPE bottles, filling and packaging lines, and logistic systems.

Basler explains that the value of this management approach is proven by figures which show that EPS produced 125 million bottles by this method in 2000 and this is projected to rise to 700 million for 2003.

Its innovative approach to technology, claims EPS, means that by working with a series of joint-venture suppliers the company has access to best-in-class technology.

Partners include Techne blowmoulding machines for fresh and aseptic HDPE bottles; Kosme linear stretch blow-moulding machines for PET bottles, labelling and end of line packing equipment; IFAP PET preforms; and Auspac [now part of EPS] standard and customised blowmoulded HDPE bottles and caps.

Recent installations include the supply of HDPE bottles to a UK juice producer for distribution to fast food chains. This installation also featured the latest Elofill rotary clean bottle filler which has a capacity of 12 000 litres/hr as well as the supply of 250ml bottles.

Meanwhile, at the Olma Dairy in the Czech Republic [one of the largest dairies in Eastern Europe], a second complete PET line has been installed to meet increasing demand for milk and dairy products.

Unifill, Elopak’s Italian subsidiary, is also part of the innovation charge with its range of vertical thermoform-fill-seal plastic portion packs for liquid and viscous foods, para-pharmaceuticals, body care and household products.

The systems, which are claimed to be unique, produce a wide range of shapes by pre-heating two thin films of plastic sheet which are formed into strips to create monodose portion packs.

The strips are then filled with liquid or semi-liquid product, the top is sealed and the strips cut into individual shaped packages or units of 5 to 15 doses, depending on volume and shape.

Elopak’s quest for innovative solutions to packaging demands has also led to the development of the Elopouch aseptic packaging system.