Graphic Packaging says its award-winning Tite-Pak paperboard beer bottle carton continues to gain market traction in the US after Miller Coors and AB InBev launched it in Q4 2013.
Tite-Pak was introduced at Drinktec, Germany last September, and is a fully enclosed solid fiber carton for glass bottles that is designed to reduce glass breakage and remove the need for internal partitions.
Designed to run on Graphic Packaging’s Quikflex machines, Tite-Pak can also be configured to run on retrofitted lines, and the system tightens bottles within the carton after it is sealed.
“Tite-Pak solidifies our existing share in the solid fiber category and delivers a competitive advantage over other fiber alternatives,” CEO David Scheible told analysts on a call last Thursday.
“We are excited by the long-term potential of Tite-Pak globally and continue to see ongoing interest elsewhere,” he added.
Weak soft drinks demand but beer rebounds
Graphic Packaging posted a net income of $146.3m for the year ending December 31 2013 of which $46m came in Q4 2013; sales rose 2% year-on-year in Q4 to $1.074bn and circa. 3% to $4.478bn for the full year.
2014 beverage board sales were hit by weak carbonated soft drink demand, Graphic Packaging said, quoting Can Manufacturers Institute data estimating the overall volumes across canned beverage fell 3.9% in Q4.
Non-alcoholic drinks were particularly hard hit with 5.7% declines while alcoholic beverages only fell 0.4%.
Scheible said the company expected US beer sales to improve but that CSDs would not, but he said the firm was insulated from similar CSD declines in Europe as paperboard is rarely used for soft drinks.
“Beer is growing in Europe. And so with the acquisition of A&R [for around €19m in November 2012] that made us a big player. It gave us a solid position in Heineken. We already had a big position in ABI.
‘Opportunities in Beck’s across the board…’
“We’ve got opportunities in Beck’s across the board,” Scheible added.
Graphic Packaging aims to double its SUS (coated unbleached kraft paperboard) sales in Europe in the long term Scheible added, since its European acquisitions now mean it has a ready supply of board and converting facilities.
The Paperboard Packaging Council named Tite-Pak as the winner of its 2013 Eco Award, and carton competition judge John Lyons (pictured) said it eliminated lots of the additional materials inside to reduce breakage and clanking.
“They did that by creating these shark fins that are inserted between the bottles. It doesn’t cost any more, it’s done online. Efficient, smart clever solution,” Lyons said of Tite-Pak last November, in its Yuengling Lager incarnation.