FoodProductionDaily chats to Laurence Mott, VP, packaging technologies, and Charles Brand, executive VP, product management & commercial operations, Tetra Pak to discuss the technology.
Why did it take so long to bring eBeam to fruition?
Mott: The technology development part itself was something which required a real breakthrough, not just in understanding the concept, manufacturing the technology, the choice of supplier and development partner, but to validate and ensure the system can provide food safe aseptic performance.
Why did you partner with Comet?
Mott: Comet is a leader in technology associated with high vacuum and high voltage. These are the two principles on which the electron beam technology works. That’s why we partnered with them.
Why did you launch E3 at Fispal and not Anuga or Interpack?
Brand: This year we were not present at Anuga as we had an event at Modena, Italy, at our own premises there. Fispal is an important show for us and so it’s the main show we are present at this year. Together with Gulf Foods of course but this was more appropriate for the launch of this product since the machine on display at Fispal is a family pack size and Brazil and South America is very much a family pack market.
Will you expand it to any other technology?
Mott: The E3 platform that we are launching this on consists of Speed machines, Flex and CompactFlex machines. There is a roll-out plan of how we do that over the next five years.
Why did you carry out test pilots with Rajo and Meiji?
Mott: Principally with Rajo because they are a great partner to us and particularly interested in this type of innovation and they have a need for this type of package. It fitted their needs and our needs perfectly. It allowed them to increase production with the same footprint.
When will you announce who the partner is who bought the machine at Fispal?
Brand: This machine has already been sold but we cannot disclose who or in which country. We had customers who knew the machine was coming here to Fispal so we have been in discussions with them for some time.
What product are you focusing on with this system?
Mott: The technology itself is independent of the product. It replaces the hydrogen peroxide sterilization system, packaging sterilization system as with all our machines it can run juice, milk etc. There are no plans to expand to Tetra Recart. It’s not the same technology because Tetra Recart is retortable so you fill the product into the carton and its retorted like a can. Electron beam technology has been used in the food industry to sterilize different types of packaging and even food itself. We are the first people to apply it within the beverage carton industry.
Will you eventually phase out hydrogen peroxide?
Brand: It's unlikely as hydrogen peroxide fits in certain situations, the higher the speed the more applicable it is (for eBeam) in terms of its economics. But who knows, we don’t know how the technology will evolve and what our customer demands will be.
Have you had any feedback so far on the technology?
Brand: We have shown it to customers over the last three years including Anuga and presented it to many customers with overwhelming feedback on the technology, the idea of it, how it works and the benefits. Now we have a commercial machine so it is in the sales process so I am sure there will be considerable interest both here at Fispal and elsewhere.
Have you had any negative feedback on eBeam?
Brand: We haven’t had anything negative but with anything that is new there are always questions about how does it work. Once they understand that and the fact it has been in the food industry for quite some time questions are usually more positive around the benefits it has.
What trends do you foresee in the Brazilian and South American market?
Brand: Brazil has been a huge growth market for the dairy industry and ambient dairy because you need to be able to transport it without refrigeration and our business has grown in Brazil very much as a result of that on the back of our dairy customers. All things ambient work very well in this country. Tetra Pak has exhibited at Fispal for the last 27 years and we will be here for its 30th anniversary.