Amcor and Tradewinds deliver advanced-technology packaging again

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Manchester, MI – (March 3, 2009) – Amcor PET Packaging has advanced the patented technology behind its panel-less PowerFlex™ bottle to a new and higher level. It has created a 20 oz container that is being introduced to consumers by Tradewinds Beverage Company of Cincinnati, OH, with ready-to-drink (RTD) iced teas.

The 20 oz. PowerFlex marks the second time the two companies have joined forces to bring advanced-technology packaging to consumers. Tradewinds was the first marketer in the U.S. to adopt Amcor’s PowerFlex bottle in 2005, a 16-oz container primarily available in convenience stores. The company has since expanded its usage with 24-count PET multipacks for club stores, a six-count shrink pack for grocery stores, and an eight-count multipack for mass merchandisers such as Wal-Mart. Sales in 2008 grew more than 64 percent, making Tradewinds the fastest growing RTD iced tea brand in the country.

“This 20 oz entry is an important strategic step for us and a critical evolution of the brand,” said Steve Hatch, Tradewinds Sr. Vice President of Sales. “While competitors are downsizing from 20 to 16 ounces, we upsized to 20 ounces and went from glass to PET, the package preferred by the younger generation and most relevant to our brand.
The new PowerFlex bottle has a better shelf presence. It appears taller on the shelf, has an ultra-premium look, and it gives customers 25-percent more iced tea.”

Hatch credits Amcor for helping make Tradewinds one of the fastest growing RTD iced tea brands and expects the new 20-oz bottle to extend the trend. The new line of PowerFlex bottles will be available exclusively through Tradewinds Direct Store Delivery (DSD) distributors.

“DSD historically represents more than 50 percent of the company’s sales. With the new Amcor PET bottle, we think it will grow to 70 percent this year,” Hatch said. “With the advent of Amcor’s 20 oz PowerFlex, distributors will remain a pivotal part of Tradewinds’ success into the foreseeable future.”

Upsized package for added tea volume requires technology breakthrough

Although the 16-to-20 oz increase in volume may seem to be a routine product line extension, increasing the size of the PowerFlex bottle was far from it, said Amcor engineer Chris Burt.

“This was a brand new size category and we could not use existing preforms,” Burt said. “With PowerFlex technology you cannot use conventional preforms. They need to be specifically designed and engineered to fit the technology.

“The PowerFlex container requires a flexible base diaphragm that displaces the vacuum. The 20-oz container label area is taller and with a larger container, there is more hot product, more product cool-down and more vacuum stress. Retaining the PowerFlex panel-less smooth label design area was a must,” Burt said, noting it required considerable reconfiguring. “It needed to be robust enough to ensure a consistent diameter with little or no geometry.”

The initial, patented PowerFlex bottle was designed for 16- to 17-oz volumes, and nearly all products marketed in it to date, including Tradewinds teas, have been 16 or 16.9 ounces. Amcor modified and perfected this technology and tooling over time, says Burt.

“Moving up to a whole new size range posed multiple challenges. New injection tooling was necessary in order to meet new demands relating to every part of the package.”

Designed for short and long-term success

“With all the engineering and collaborative effort that went into this project, we not only provided the new package Tradewinds was looking for, but have now opened the door to an array of 18 – 24 ounce PowerFlex applications,” continued Burt.

Although this PowerFlex 20-oz container is new from top to bottom, the shoulder part of the mold – like its predecessor – is designed to accommodate a shoulder insert swap. This allows the new 20 oz bottle to incorporate Tradewinds’ proprietary neck, a distinctive shape stemming from the company’s roots as a beer brewer. Embossed designs on the shoulder are unique to the Tradewinds 20-oz PowerFlex package.

Burt noted engineering the container for an insert swap offers considerable new-package savings for customers such as Tradewinds. It provides another benefit by giving them a private design and short time-to-market. The 38-mm finish on the new package is the same as for Tradewinds’ 16-oz PowerFlex container. “It uses the same closures and filling equipment at no additional cost,” Burt said.

The bottles are being produced at Amcor’s Allentown, PA, facility. Tradewinds is taking advantage of existing filling lines and equipment to fill the bottles at its new Carlisle, OH, plant, which opened last August.

New package expected to deliver typical glass-to-PET conversion results
Eight Tradewinds tea flavors are offered in 20-oz containers and only in PET, unlike the 16-oz varieties available in both PET and glass. However, the company plans to further convert packaging to PET. Shipments began in January and Tradewinds is planning to unveil its first major promotion in April.

“The rule for single serve is to make your package stand out on the shelf among the sea of other offerings,” Hatch said. “Amcor hit the bulls-eye. We have the best tea in the best on-the-go package.”

About Amcor:

Amcor PET Packaging is the leading manufacturer of PET (polyethylene terephthalate) plastic packaging for the global beverage, food and non-food industries with 60 facilities in 12 countries. Its parent company, Amcor Limited, offers a broad range of packaging solutions and ranks as one of the top three packaging companies in the world. Amcor’s extensive operations include 217 plants in 34 countries. It is headquartered in Melbourne, Australia and, for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2008, reported sales revenues of $7.5 billion (U.S.). For more information, visit www.amcor.com.