The installation of new ACF (Aseptic Cold Filling) line equipment at Eckes Granini's factory in Bad Fallingbostel, Germany, will radically change the way in which the firm operates.
Currently, sixty per cent of Eckes-Granini fruit juice products sold in the German market are bottled in non-refillable glass/PET bottles, twenty per cent is packaged in disposable drink cartons, and the remaining twenty per cent is filled in refillable glass bottles. But this distribution will change drastically by the end of 2004.
By then, the innovative 24,000 non-refillable PET bottle-per-hour line equipment, installed by KHS , will be operable. And this, claims Eckes-Granini, will enable it to deliver the complete range of Granini and hohes C products to the German retail trade in non-refillable PET instead of glass bottles.
"The investment in KHS ACF plant equipment is a step taken towards the future," said Peter Eugen Eckes, a co-partner of Eckes. "High quality products in convenient packaging at a reasonable price - that's convincing. Eckes-Granini takes new avenues in an adapted, consumer-oriented market with a performance package thought-out down to the last detail."
Hermann Naumann, plant manager at Eckes-Granini's site in Fallingbostel, points out the gentler product treatment of the aseptic cold filling method compared to the conventional hot filling process. "Consumers can taste the difference of the even more gentle process of bottling juices in PET," he said.
Another advantage of aseptic cold filling is that microbiological safety is ensured even when filling the most sensitive of beverages. In addition, preservatives are not necessary when using the modern ACF technology.
KHS offers beverage manufacturers and fillers traditional wet-method ACF line equipment as well as the KHS Alfill method of dry sterilisation. Eckes-Granini decided to opt for the latest generation of KHS' traditional wet-method ACF line equipment.
A novel feature of this new generation of KHS ACF plant technology is the newly developed clean room concept. The glass insulator containing the rinser-filler-capper block is enclosed in a specially designed sanitary safety zone.
The glass isolator is sectioned off into several zones by safety partitions installed between the rinser and filler and the filler and capper.
This reduces the risk of recontamination caused by rapidly rotating components. Class 100 clean room conditions prevail inside the glass isolator. The entire ceiling surface is covered with sterile filters that ensure a constant supply of sterile air.
German fruit juice manufacturers are not the only ones to see positive advantages in PET - beer drinkers in Germany now have a better opportunity to purchase beer in PET than any other European country. This is thanks largely to the controversial introduction of a scheme to introduce hefty recycling fees for the use of aluminium cans.
Last year for example, major supermarket chain Aldi recently confirmed with the financial publication Wirtschafts Woche that because of the new deposit law, it no longer intends to sell beer in cans. This allows the giant discount chain operator to save costs related to the return of cans and allow time for the development of a system for returnable packaging.
Instead of cans, Aldi is offering its customers beer in PET bottles, a decision which, according to Amcor PET Packaging Europe/Asia, is indicative of a growing trend in the drinks market.