From Pack Expo towards the West Coast

Nevada, Arizona, California, dream destinations, surely, for every visitor to America. Everywhere you look there are sights to see and amazing highlights. They pass before your eyes as rapidly and as frequently as empty PET bottles on the air conveyor. Which brings us neatly to the topic. More than anywhere else in the United States, business life, and with it the PET industry, is dominated by the elements, sun and water and the main industry, agriculture. So far, so obvious you might say. Sun all the year round, everyone enjoying a drink, and a never-ending blessing for the PET sector.

In principle, yes, but every time I visit, the subject of transport crops up. California provides 60% of all the fruit and vegetables grown in the USA and during the harvest season from April to October every square metre of cargo space is fully occupied with farm produce.

David Watson of Bericap in Los Angeles solves this problem with long-term partnerships, thus locking in strong links to the bottlers. The Portuguese packaging group has made a virtue of necessity and made Arizona its base. True, this is some hours away from the main centres of the west coast, but such is the amount of fruit and salad being transported from California to the East that there is room for little else, but on the return journey it is a different story. According to Joao Ganhao, as many as 5 out of 6 wagons return empty to California, thus increasing availability, whilst dramatically reducing overall transport costs. This is a key factor for packaging involving as it does stretch blow moulded bottles.

Meanwhile our Editourmobil is still stuck in Houston with gearbox problems, meaning that I was forced to hire a car and put up in hotels to continue the tour. To the south of Los Angeles in Long Beach, I came across a terrific place to stay. It is the last resting place of the great ocean-going liner Queen Mary. Not only does the old ship house an interesting museum, it also offers sumptuous accommodation. There is something special about staying in such a unique environment. During the day it is overrun with myriad visitors, but in the evening it feels as though you have the entire ship to yourself. It is like stepping back 60 years in time when these great liners were the only link between Europe and the New World.

And whilst we are here, Packexpo is naturally one of the places on our must-visit list. My hopes were high about what would be exhibited but in the event, for us PET specialists, only around 20 exhibits merited our close attention. To find them necessitated a good deal of careful searching amongst the 1500 or so exhibitors. I did make one discovery: dishwasher-proof wine and beer glasses made from PET. Priority Plastics manufactures it for Govino.


Alexander Büchler
Managing Director