PET beer bottle market growing after 10 years

20 November 2008 19:36  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS news)--As the polyethylene terephthalate (PET) beer bottle turns 10 years old, Graham Packaging and its buyers expect the container to grow in popularity, a company spokesman said on Wednesday.

While PET still composes only a small fraction of the beer-bottle market, it has consistently enjoyed 10% annual growth since its launch and will continue to be a key growth technology in the years ahead, said Mark Leiden, vice president for global marketing and PET business manager for the Pennsylvania-based company. The company did not disclose production figures for the PET beer bottles.

“I still see good growth opportunities for beer in PET,” said Jeff Garwood, senior manager of new product packaging and development for MillerCoors.

Graham Packaging plans to offer new bottle sizes, shapes, textures as well as a container in which a greater variety of beers and other products may be pasteurised, Leiden said. Additionally, volatile energy and transportation costs have prompted greater interest in lighter-weight alternatives to metal and glass, he said.

Despite early doubts, the PET bottle proved itself superior to glass or aluminium in terms of flavour and cold retention, thanks, in part, to the oxygen-scavenging properties of the multilayer bottle, said Graham’s director of global PET technology development Dave Piccoli.

Marketing of the PET beer bottle originally focused on sporting arenas where vendors sought a branded alternative to serving beer in plain plastic cups.

“It made it very easy to serve the beer, versus pouring into a cup,” Graham sales representative Ralph Armstrong said.

“There was no cup expense and it was faster than pouring. The fast serve was a key component of the sale,” he said, adding that beer in a plastic bottle always “wears” its brand while beer in a plastic cup does not.

From there the plastic beer bottle gained popularity at a variety of outdoor events - concerts, fairs and festivals - and is increasingly purchased from store shelves as well, Leiden said.

The PET bottle soon became the first container of its kind to follow the Design for Recyclability protocol established by the Association of Post Consumer Plastic Recyclers (APR), winning the APR’s Champions of Change award, said Leiden.

US-based Graham Packaging customises blow-moulded plastic containers for a variety of market categories, producing more than 20bn container units annually at 83 plants in North America, Europe and South America.

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By: Landon Feller
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