“Our larger dairy customers in China are asking us for higher capacity with lower operating costs,” says Elizabeth Yao, Tetra Pak’s Cluster Portfolio Director, APAC. “They also want more sustainable packaging to address the growing environmental demands of modern Chinese consumers.” This is the kind of challenge that we at Tetra Pak relish, and our response is a groundbreaking new filling machine, the Tetra Pak E3/Speed Hyper.
Urbanisation and the growth of cities are global trends, but they are nowhere more pronounced than in China. Beijing and Shanghai now have a combined population of over 45 million and they are still growing. Meanwhile, Guangdong is the most populous province of China with 113.46 million people, 15.31 million of whom are concentrated in Guangzhou city. Clearly, mega-cities demand corresponding mega-production to serve them. “That huge mass market is also seeking more choice and looking to address health and nutritional needs in ways that fit their hectic city lives,” observes Elizabeth.
Tulip Tan, Tetra Pak’s APAC Cluster Portfolio Manager, comments: “In recent years, aseptic white milk has been our main offering for our customers in China, with 250 ml being the most popular size package.” A 250 ml package of dairy milk is seen as a convenient ‘snack’ for busy consumers on the go. It helps meet their daily requirement for healthy calcium, vitamins and calories - in an attractively quick and tasty way.
But now, beverage producers are seeking innovation in both their products and their packaging. The larger dairies have to keep innovating to keep up with the smaller ones, in an innovation cycle that has shrunk to a matter of months. They also have to keep up with their fast-evolving consumers and provide more diversified, tailor-made products, with new concepts to tempt their tastebuds.
As demand grows, producers need to keep pace by increasing production capacity. “However, with real estate so expensive in China these days, our customers naturally want to get the maximum output from their existing factory space, before investing in new plants.”
Consumers exert pressures, too, says Tulip. Just as elsewhere, they are beginning to demand products that are responsibly produced. Reducing environmental impacts, actively mitigating climate change and managing natural resources all come into the picture. And all these things must be reconciled with producers’ desire for competitiveness and efficiency.
For all the above reasons, Tetra Pak’s new filling machine, the Tetra Pak E3/Speed Hyper, is attracting a lot of interest in China. It can produce up to 40,000 packages/hr without requiring a significant increase in floor space. This level of capacity means producers can quickly ramp up their output to meet the growing demand.
“We’re very proud of this breakthrough in carton packaging speed, which represents a huge increase over competing solutions,” says Tulip. “In addition, the new machine reduces operational costs by up to 10%, compared with the earlier Tetra Pak A3/Speed model. Higher capacity and better margins – these are exactly what our innovative, forward-looking customers want. Indeed, savings are vital to our customers, especially those operating in low-margin categories.”
“Even compared with our own Tetra Pak A3/Speed model, the new Tetra Pak E3/Speed Hyper saves on operating costs. Such savings are vital to our customers, especially those operating in low-margin categories.”
One knock-on effect of reduced operational costs is that it frees up resources for product development and innovation. A strong package development pipeline will open up further opportunities for innovation, allowing Chinese dairies to create unique product concepts as their consumers’ needs evolve. Within the next few years, it will be possible for customers to produce a total of five different portion packages on the Tetra Pak E3/Speed Hyper.
The new filling machine also delivers a reduction in environmental impacts. “By using eBeam technology instead of hydrogen peroxide sterilization it virtually eliminates the use of chemicals, ” observes Tulip. “And the system consumes by up to 30% less energy*, which is just the kind of breakthrough our customers appreciate. Less power, less water, less wasted packaging material and product – these things all translate into a solution that boosts consumer appeal”.
*Compared to the Tetra Pak A3/Speed