LEADING beverage packaging manufacturer Taiwan Hon Chuan Group (THC) is accelerating product innovations and expanding its range of metal and aluminium caps with features to match different customer needs in preparation for market uptick. Drawing upon half a century of industry experience, the Taichung, Taiwan-based company is one of few suppliers serving as a one-stop shop for beverage packaging requirements, offering caps of different materials, preforms, bottles and labels. THC even does beverage filling.
With the global beverage industry expected to continue thriving, the packaging market is likewise projected to rise. Ecommerce market data and intelligence provider PipeCandy forecasts total worldwide beverage market value this year will hit US$1813 billion and keep on its upward trajectory to reach US$1885 billion in 2024 and US$1961 billion the year after that.
This positive outlook means only good news for the beverage packaging market, itself seen to maintain an upbeat outlook for the years ahead. The variety alone of packaging designs and options as well as size and the materials used to make these reflects industry scale. Market intelligence firm Mordor Intelligence predicts a 6.2 percent CAGR for the beverage packaging sector from 2021 through 2026, by which period market value would have reached US$205.32 billion.
“Asia is where we expect to see the fastest growth. We have been strengthening not only our presence but our manufacturing capability in the Asian region these past years precisely to prepare for this demand spike,” said THC Chairman Hung Chuan Dai, in a webinar conducted by Ringier Events on 1 April 2022.
Of THC's 45 production sites globally, 95 percent are located in Asia. In Southeast Asia alone, THC has 20 manufacturing facilities spanning Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam and Indonesia, with a Philippine site to be added in the next two or two years. The company has eight plants in Taiwan and 15 in China. Outside of Asia, there are two factories in Africa.
Metal lug caps
Growing the aluminium caps line
THC has been aggressively diversifying its product line to be able to offer a wider selection of caps, with the options not limited to the type of material but also size, applications, features and designs. The company is even looking beyond the food and beverage sector, hoping to tap increasing demand for closures in the cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and daily care segments to boost its presence in these areas.
“The aluminium caps and closures market is expanding significantly, and this is not just in the F&B sector. The pandemic pushed up demand for medicines, which raised the need for caps, especially metal and aluminium variants, because of their contamination- and leak-resistant capability. These same considerations are making aluminium caps popular in the cosmetics sector,” said Justin Huang, business development manager at THC.
THC now offers aluminium caps for different applications and in various sizes. These also come with different liners. For small-volume beverages, THC has 18.2x12.mm ROPP caps with PE liner and 90°C heating resistance and 19.8x12.4mm ROPP caps with PVC liner and 121°C heating resistance. The former can also be used for sample liquor products such as 10ml bottles and the latter for cough syrup as small as 20ml.
THC's growing line of aluminium caps for liquor products comprises the 31.5x44mm ROPP cap with PE liner and 90°C heating resistance and 28.7x31.9mm ROPP cap with PE liner and 90°C heating resistance. The 30x35 mm ROPP cap has two types of liner -- PE with 90°C heating resistance and PVC liner with 121°C heating resistance. For wine products, the 30x60mm ROPP cap comes with two liner types -- PE and PVC with 90°C and 121°C heating resistance, respectively.
THC's 28mm ROPP cap can be used for various beverage applications, including carbonated soft drinks and dairy and energy drinks. It has five types of liners, namely HDPE, PVC, T-type, L-type and PP and features 121°C heating resistance.
“Alcohol beverages represent a major share of the aluminium caps sector, and we see this trend keeping for the next few years. The entry of more types of alcoholic drinks means more packaging requirements, and so we must stay abreast of market developments,” Dai noted.
Aluminium caps for pharma applications such as Chinese herbs drinks include 22.4x15.2mm and 38.6x17.8mm ROPP variants. Both come with a PVC liner and withstand 121°C heating. Also suitable for healthcare beverages is the 42mm pull ring lid with PVC-free liner.
“The pharmaceuticals industry is a fast-growing sector for aluminium caps, and we want to be where we can support our customers with products that are of high quality. Same with our caps for beverage applications, we are prioritising secure seal and ease of use,” said Huang.
THC also offers aluminium caps for injection bottles. These come in three sizes -- 13mm, 22mm and 34mm -- and can be used for medical applications. Also for medical applications are the tinplate screw caps with or without HDPE liner. These are available in 39.8x9.6mm, 51.1x11mm, 32.2x10mm and 40.5x11.2mm options. The first two use PE liner whilst the rest come with PVC lining.
“Caps for injection bottles likewise have a positive outlook, buoyed partly for stronger demand for injection bottles for medical applications,” Huang shared.
THC's annual output of aluminium closures is currently 3.4 billion pieces. The company has multiple automatic machines and meets several international standards for its aluminium caps. Besides ensuring tamper-resistant sealing, THC aluminium aps can use different liner and lamination options per customer requirements, especially as regards keeping the beverage flavour intact. The 28mm ROPP caps can go with TPE, PE, PP, plastisol or Saranex depending on target application and client preference. For 30x21mm, 30x35mm and 30x60mm aluminium ROPP caps, PE, Saranex and tin Saranex are the available liner options.
“Our customisation capability for all our caps and closures is not limited to producing the cap or meeting customer requirements in terms of design, liner, size and material. We also factor in the production process that a client uses. As for printing, we can apply up to eight colours in terms of printing, whether it is for a lug cap or an aluminium closure. The average is four to six colours, but we can accommodate up to eight, with the colours based on the customer's design,” Dai noted.
“The bigger challenge these days would be the production lead time: Given delays in raw materials shipments and other logistics and transportation concerns, mostly resulting from the pandemic, we also face delays in our production. The average lead time is four to six weeks upon receipt of order, for which the MOQ is 50,000 units per SKU. This applies to all metal closure products,” he added.
THC's aluminum ROPP caps for CSD, energy drinks, alcoholic beverages, nutritional beverages.
Sustaining innovations to meet new market needs
Besides continuous product diversification to expand market scope, THC directs R&D efforts toward developing new products that keep up with market trends and needs. The company also seeks environment-friendly raw materials in line with sustainability objectives.
Anti-fraud aluminium ROPP caps is one of THC's product development priorities. These anti-counterfeiting caps can have a customised 3D relief trademark, invisible ink mark, small font (25μm) anti-counterfeiting mark or laser edge stamping film without a gap. Holographic co-location and out-of-phase technology can likewise be used.
THC works will leading global laser companies for the use of laser technology for these aluminium closures. For the anti-counterfeiting designs, THC offers hot stamp production, 3D anaglyph technology, dual-channel image reflection and hidden word reflection under UV light.
In line with anti-fraud closures and also to address customer marketing needs, THC can apply QR codes and serial numbers on its caps. The company acquired a laser facility in Taiwan and China and meets SGS FDA, GB and CNS standards for these products. Suitable for various beverage applications, including bottled water and juice, dairy and energy drinks, the caps with QR codes are nontoxic and ink-free.
“We can do unique random code printing besides QR codes. Same with serial numbers, we can do serial images. Random codes are popular these days as these allow customers to launch lottery promotions for their products,” Dai said.
To address demand for sustainable packaging, THC continuously seeks environment-friendly materials for its caps. Its 42mm ring-pull caps do not contain PVC, plasticizer or VOC. These are easy to open, grease-resistant, and can withstand high temperature filling and sterilisation.
THC is also developing composite vacuum caps made of metal and food-grade plastic with a compound liner. Besides ease of opening and recapping, the caps feature increased security with the safety button. The caps can withstand 121°C sterilisation up to 20 minutes.
Integrated development strategy
THC's total solution approach enables the company to provide a growing range of finished products and still handle OEM and ODM projects for beverage manufacturers, including beverage filling.
The company produces 43 billion plastic and 560 million metal closures a year. For preforms and PET bottles, its annual output is 14.7 billion units. The beverage filling output is 183 million cases each year.
“Over these past five decades, we've been working with tier 1 global companies and local beverage suppliers in different countries around the world. From collaborating with these companies and watching the market closely, we know how innovation remains a critical part of the equation, ensuring high quality and product reliability each time,” Dai said.
Besides sustained R&D and product diversification efforts, the company has been implementing steady improvements in its facilities. It has introduced AI intelligent sensors and equipment in existing production lines. It plans to build unmanned production lines in the short term and eventually unmanned facilities.
To enhance its beverage filling business, THC is expanding new aseptic filling lines in Southeast Asia, including building two new aseptic filling lines in Indonesia to increase the lines from three to five. It is looking to do the same in Thailand and Vietnam in the coming years.
Copyright (c) Ringier Trade.com. Copyright (c) Ringier Trade Media Ltd. (c) 2022.
All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or part in any form or medium without express written permission is not allowed.
Ringier Trade .com (c) Ringier Trade Media Ltd., accept no responsibility or liability for any information provided by any third party on this website.