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Uflex first company to launch its own aseptic carton packaging in India

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By Jenny Eagle+

Last updated on 13-Jan-2017 at 11:32 GMT2017-01-13T11:32:40Z

Ashwani Sharma, Uflex, unveiling Asepto. Picture credit: Uflex.
Ashwani Sharma, Uflex, unveiling Asepto. Picture credit: Uflex.

Uflex has launched its own aseptic carton packaging called Asepto in India, investing approximately $100m in a purpose-built factory to start production in April 2017.

The manufacturing plant is built on 21 acres of a 72 acre plot in Sanand, Gujarat, and once operational will employ around 250 people. There are plans for further expansion once the cartons are sold globally.

Juice, dairy, sauces

Ashwani Sharma, president/CEO, New Business Initiatives, Uflex, told DairyReporter it is the first time it has ventured into liquid packaging and it wants to focus on three segments initially; juices, dairy (milk, yogurt, butter milk products) and viscous products like sauces.

We wanted to move into this segment because packaging of flavored milk, other dairy products and liquor in aseptic packaging material will only grow further in the coming years both in India and globally,” he said.

Even though India is a developing country the Indian aseptic liquid packaging market is growing 17-18% per annum and this is expected to double in the next five years to approximately 20 billion packs per annum.

In comparison, China has a tremendous growth story with approximately 80 billion packs per annum. We are all set to take off in the Indian market and position this business globally.”

Sharma added it has a total manufacturing capacity of 7bn packs per annum, which will cater to 90% of the domestic market demand.  But, he said, in APAC the market growth is around 7% and Indian market growth has been in double digits for the last three to four years.

The factory in Gujarat is expected to produce aseptic packages by laminating polyethylene with paperboard and aluminum foil, protecting the contents from various factors responsible for spoilage.

Printing, creasing and punching of paper board is done on an in-house printing machine, followed by lamination of paper board on an extrusion machine with aluminum film and a different type of polyethylene.

Snacks, confectionery, beverages

The rolls from the lamination machine will then be converted into rolls of smaller width as per the required size of package i.e. 200 ml, 100 ml, 1,000 ml etc.

The finished rolls will be sent to the customer on a forming and filling line with the liquids filled and packed in the packages.

In India, industrialization is happening at a rapid pace, and this is good news in terms of growth. We had been thinking about this project for some time. We are already established in the market here and we have manufacturing plants in the US, Mexico, Poland, Dubai and Egypt,” said Sharma.

We have products like semi solids, pastes, and gels covering the snack, confectionery, and beverage market, but we had not ventured into aseptic liquid packaging.

We had to invest close to $100m in the plant so we have to plan meticulously to be successful in the marketplace. We are happy to venture into this and believe it is never too late.

We hope to expand beyond juice, dairy and viscous products into alcohol, addressing all the segments together. For example, it is very popular in India for consumers to buy whisky, wine and rum in small on-the-go pack sizes, especially in southern India.

Tetra Pak

Our main competitor in this area is Tetra Pak, it has a large factory in India, but we believe we are the first Indian company to venture into this market as well as some Chinese importers.”

He added its engineering division in Noida is designing and manufacturing machines with a filling speed of 7,500 packs/hour for a typical 200ml pack and it is in discussions with its customers to sell the packs commercially.

We already have a wide customer base to whom we offer fully integrated flexible packaging for solid, semi-solid, granular, powder, paste, gel and viscous fluid products,” said Sharma.

Now with our aseptic packaging manufacturing plant going operational, getting orders from the existing clients for their liquid products will be a natural extension of our long-standing business relationship of several decades.”

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