ASIA

 
BERICAP to strengthen foothold in China, other Asian markets with innovative yet functional Closures

BERICAP is one of the leading plastic closure manufacturers in the world with more than 92 years of history. BERICAP owns 23 factories in 20 countries, apart from 4 major R&D centres, 1 mold manufacturing factory and sales offices in more than 70 countries.
BERICAP offers a wide range of closures for the food, beverages and industrial markets. In 1997, BERICAP entered China and established its first Asian production facility in Kunshan. Since then, BERICAP has expanded in Asia with more manufacturing plants in India, Zhuhai and Malaysia.

BERICAP’s major markets
An interview with Mr Volker Spiesmacher, Global Marketing & Sales Director of BERICAP revealed interesting developments on the closures markets for BERICAP in Asia. Mr Volker said China is BERICAP’s most important market in Asia. The Chinese market offers the strongest growth for the water segment as such, closures for water products contribute the most to BERICAP business in Asia. “We also forecast good growth for closures for the dairy market as we can see an increasing demand for PET containers, as such the dairy segment is also in our focus. Apart from that, we also offer interesting closure solutions for the juices and carbonates segments, as well as for the food market where we could introduce high value closures within the edible oil and sauces segments.”

Latest developments in the closure segment
When it comes to innovation, the dairy segment may require customised designs or the use of overcap to make the packing more attractive for the consumer. The so-called Advance Tamper Evidence (ATE) function may be necessary to be implemented into such closures, and will be based on the technical design of the closure which allows a tamper evidence band to break before the seal breaks, meaning the bottle is opened.
Mr Volker added that such ‘anti-counterfeiting’ measure also helps to ensure that the product cannot be manipulated. The same is also being used for water closure. Modern water closures need to be equipped with a specific slit flex band, which makes manipulation of the filled product much more difficult compared to common tamper bands still used in the market.
He said that in many markets, however not so much in China, competition in the water segment is on ‘light weighted’, i.e. how light is the bottle. To stabilise the bottle, nitrogen is dosed into the bottle, as such a water closure must be able to maintain a certain inside pressure. Also important to consumer is the look and handling of the closure to ensure an easy opening.
For the juice market, the closure must be weight-optimised and fulfill various tests. One important function is that the closure cannot ‘missile’ (fly) once pressure is built up in the bottle, as a consumer put the half empty bottle not back into the fridge and the content could ferment and build up pressure. He explained that the so-called ‘Opening Performance Test’ proves that the closure does vent whilst opening and releases the pressure to a level where the closure cannot missile and hurt the consumer.

Importance of closure to a product
When asked how important is a cap/closure for a beverage product, Mr Volker added that closure design can definitely influence the purchasing decision of a consumer and support the brand image of a product. Differentiation on the shelves is the key word. He confirmed that there were cases where a change in closure design did support significant success of the product in the market.
BERICAP, as a major player in the closure market, also offers customised design of the closure according to customer specifications. He said, “We can develop new closures according to the beverage bottlers’ request for functionality, target consumer experience and appearance. While we have our own standard/protocols, we will align with local standards. Generally, different product categories do require different technical closure designs, and this is BERICAP’s responsibility or task to ensure the right design and quality. However, a customer may have specific requirements for the closure. In such a case, we offer specific development work to be executed in one of our 4 R&D centres in the world to match customer needs.”

BERICAP’s latest closure designs/innovations
Mr Volker has mentioned several recent innovations made by BERICAP in the closure design. The following table (see chart on left side) is a breakdown of latest innovations by product segments.

BERICAP’s contribution to environment sustainability
In recent years, there were major controversies that associate plastic packaging particularly PET bottles and labels to be responsible for most of the pollution at sea in countries like Philippines and Indonesia.
BERICAP, as a responsible market player, focuses on offering the lightest possible closures and also take into account ease of handling for the consumers. In addition, saving of resin does reduce the carbon footprint of the product.
To overcome pollution, all players from consumers to all stakeholders including the governments need to play a part. According to Mr Volker, “The biggest volume of the plastic at sea result from the large rivers in Asia, which carry the plastic bottles and other plastic materials downstream to the sea. A reduction of pollution can only be achieved with effective collecting and recycling systems, as what has been practiced in Europe.”