US packaging company opens plant in China

Updated: 2014-11-04 09:50

By AMY HE in New York(China Daily USA)

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A US-based liquid packaging company celebrated the opening of a new factory in China to support its growing customer base in Asian markets.

Liqui-Box, with headquarters in Richmond, Virginia, opened the new facility in Taizhou on Oct 31, where it had been ramping up production of goods but was not fully operational, the company said.

"This is an exciting milestone that will strengthen our presence in Asia and enable us to leverage local sourcing opportunities as well as serve our customers more efficiently and effectively," said Eric Chen, general manager of Asia Pacific at Liqui-Box, in a statement.

Liqui-Box manufactures packaging for delivery of liquid and semi-liquid products, such as dairy, beverage and food markets. The new 120,000-square-foot plant in Taizhou will initially serve customers in those markets, the company said.

The company is expanding into China as demand for food and beverage goods increases in China and elsewhere in Asia with a growing middle class, said Paul Kase, vice-president of marketing and strategy at Liqui-Box.

"The population is growing and the opportunities for flexible packaging are growing, so we see a lot of growth opportunities in that region," Kase told China Daily.

The company also makes bag-in-box packaging for food and liquid items like fountain-beverage syrup, milkshake mix, coffee drinks and concentrates and sauces. For example, fountain-soda syrups are packaged in Liqui-Box bags, which are later used by fast food restaurants at their chain locations, Kase explained.

"If you're going to a Taco Bell and get a soda, and you follow that line all the way back, that's us," he said.

China and other Asian markets are using more and more flexible packaging - the other name for bag-in-box packaging - because it's more sustainable and environmentally friendly, Kase said. Previously, customers used steel transfer tanks to carry liquids.

"There's a shift in the beverage segment from steel-transfer tanks - not flexible packaging - into flexible packaging," he said. "It's a more sustainable, more economical food packaging alternative. Bag-in-box bag will have a greener and better carbon footprint."

The company chose Taizhou, 180 miles from Shanghai in eastern China, for its proximity to the Shanghai port and Nanjing.

"We sincerely hope that Liqui-Box will become an iconic enterprise in the Hailing District by virtue of its first-class management, service and products and make new contributions to the upgrading of economic transformation and integrative development for our district," said Gu Ping, chief director of the Taizhou Hailing District where the new facility is.

Demand for flexible packaging is growing globally, with “China driving much of the marketplace”, according to Applied Market Information (AMI), a plastics market research consultancy.

The food and beverage sectors are turning to flexible packaging because it allows liquids to be stored with more space- and cost-effective means.

In addition to sustainability, food and pharmaceutical product safety is also of high concern, particularly in China. Flexibly-packaged products are held with special film and high barrier materials and shelf life of products can be improved dramatically through flexible packaging, according to AMI.