Brazilian company Jussara has become Latin America’s first-ever dairy producer to adopt an aseptic blow-fill-cap solution equipped with dry preform decontamination. With this solution from Sidel, Jussara expands its portfolio with a new PET bottle to differentiate its brands on the shelves in a market dominated by carton. The first milk to be bottled using this technology is a long shelf life milk (UHT) enriched with added calcium and vitamins. Branded as “Jussara Max”, the product has already received positive reactions from the Brazilian consumers.
A strategic expansion in the milk sector
In 2013, the Brazilian market consumed 6.3 billion litres of UHT milk, a figure which makes Brazil the largest consumer of UHT milk in the world. UHT milk is the main type of milk consumed in Brazil, with a 60% share of the drinking-milk market, against 13% for pasteurised milk and 27% for milk powder. UHT milk consumption grew 4% last year and is still gaining market share, with over 90% penetration in Brazilian homes.
In this very dynamic market, the family-owned company Jussara is the ninth largest producer of dairy products in Brazil, with continuously growing total sales and currently ranking fifth in terms of the Brazilian UHT milk market. In looking to extend its portfolio of products Jussara wanted to meet consumers’ demands in terms of innovative products with special formulation and function, through user-friendly packages which are easier to handle and to store, therefore offering greater practicality.
Brazil’s first-ever aseptic production line with dry preform decontamination for milk in PET bottles
In a domestic market for milk dominated by carton, Jussara wanted to differentiate its brands on the shelves and the PET bottle was a revolutionary step. After more than a year of investigating the potential options and a long period of discussion with Sidel, the leading global provider of PET solutions for liquid packaging, Jussara decided to invest in a new production line for its premium UHT milk. The decision was taken to introduce innovative and different packaging – drawing on the flexible design possibilities that PET delivers as a material – to offer greater brand recognition for the consumer. “With our new high production capacity based on a complete aseptic line supplied by Sidel, our company presents one of the most modern packaging technologies in Latin America for PET bottles, the first-ever aseptic production line including a blow-fill-cap solution equipped with dry preform decontamination technology,” proudly comments Mr Odorico Alexandre Barbosa, Superintendent Director of Jussara. This new PET line, located in the Patrocínio Paulista plant, some five hours north of São Paulo City in São Paulo State, was commissioned in November 2014. Jussara then introduced its Jussara Max range for long-life milk with added calcium and vitamin D in a revolutionary PET plastic bottle, a real breakthrough in a Brazilian market dominated by the carton package. The milk, based on a special formulation, is distributed in full-fat, skimmed and half-skimmed versions.
A marketing breakthrough to differentiate the milk on the shelf
In Brazil, carton is currently the most widely used packaging format for UHT milk and dairy products, with 99% of market share while the plastic bottle, despite offering a higher perceived value for the consumer, has less than 1% market share. However, PET has already demonstrated its benefits in the beverages market and producers are increasingly realising the creative, cost-effective and sustainable solution that the PET bottle represents. The package itself protects the integrity of the product and shows its attributes. It also meets the stringent requirements of global food safety standards while offering great business opportunities for brand differentiation of liquid dairy products stored and distributed at ambient temperatures or in refrigerators.
“We were convinced by the marketing opportunity the PET bottle could offer to our UHT premium milk. Our challenge was to create innovative and functional packaging which was cost-efficient and sustainable to produce. PET bottles have all the qualities necessary to meet our expectations. They give a freedom in package design to differentiate our products on the supermarket shelves. They perfectly match with the consumers’ expectations, as they are user-friendly, tough and resealable. They also offer great physical product and food barrier protection benefits, retaining milk’s fresh taste and vitamin content,” explains Mr Laercio Barbosa, Commercial Director and owner of Jussara. Although milk and liquid dairy products’ quality can be easily compromised by microorganism growth and alterations caused by the effects of light, oxygen and temperature, PET bottles contribute to an extended shelf life and safety throughout the supply chain. Its closure tightness also adds to PET’s convenience, even without the use of aluminium foil, and PET is 100% recyclable.
Full confidence in the Sidel complete approach
Jussara has extensive experience in milk and is extremely knowledgeable about the milk process and how to package it in carton. However, when the company considered switching to PET bottles it needed to learn and to understand all the prerequisites and the basic knowledge required in such a production operation. “We trusted Sidel with its 15-year experience in milk in PET and all the liquid dairy product references produced in PET bottles with Sidel packaging equipment worldwide gave us confidence,” comments Mr Odorico Alexandre Barbosa.
“Sidel helped us to understand everything about the PET bottle, the way to produce it and to fill it, as we had never experienced PET bottling before. More than designing a PET bottle and providing an aseptic filling line, they supported us with a complete approach. Sidel helped us look for local suppliers and validate all the consumables, including PET barrier material, caps, labels, shrink wrapping and overwrapping films in order to buy them with the best quality at the best price.” adds Mr Odorico Alexandre Barbosa.
A great bottle for great brand recognition
The bottle project from a design point of view started with a thorough analysis of Jussara’s product and brand aspirations, as well as a detailed dairy brief. “Sidel shared its vision on the best packaging for our product, both in terms of design and also in terms of PET material,” explains Mr Laercio Barbosa. Sidel compared both square and round packages in terms of marketing positioning, consumption experience, as well as cost and sustainability values, to allow Jussara to have a clear idea in order to make the best choice. “When we met Sidel’s Packaging Art Design Managers for the first time, we were impressed to discover our potential future bottle ‘live’ on the meeting table, with our brand differentiating elements like the iconic cow or Jussara name engraved on the bottle. It was definitely a good way to convince us about the possible impact it may have,” continues Mr Laercio Barbosa. “The validated Jussara Max bottle significantly differentiates our brand on the UHT white milk shelves of the supermarkets. It definitely breaks the visual codes of the container the consumers are used to buying. It is really eye-catching and attractive.” Sidel also supported Jussara in evaluating the right opaque white PET material to protect its milk from light and oxygen through analysis and assessment from Sidel’s in-house packaging scientists.
A revolutionary sustainable bottling technology
The choice of PET material was also linked to the choice of the specific Sidel aseptic bottling technology. This includes blowing, filling and capping functions in a single production enclosure and benefits from Sidel’s unique patented dry preform and cap decontamination solutions: the Combi Predis™ FMa and Capdis™. “We felt confident in our choice because Sidel provided us with many examples of the reliability of their aseptic bottling solution. We visited a French dairy company to see this aseptic technology in action. Its UHT milk is aseptically packaged in PET bottles on a Combi Predis FMa with great production efficiency. This technology allows lightweighting of bottles by eight grams compared with its original bottles produced on an aseptic line with wet decontamination. How can we not be convinced by the performance of such a technology?” continues Mr Odorico Alexandre Barbosa.
In addition to its high production efficiency, another major advantage of the Combi Predis FMa is its contribution to more sustainable business. “We were really convinced by the dry preform decontamination technology because it does not require chemicals or warm water to rinse the bottles, as is necessary with the traditional PET wet packaging solution. This significant reduction in waste and resources fits perfectly with our vision of protecting the environment while ensuring beverage quality and food safety for the consumers,” explains Mr Odorico Alexandre Barbosa. The dry preform decontamination solution allows tremendous PET savings by reducing the weight of the bottles as they do not have the thermal constraints associated with the traditional bottle-rinsing process. “Today our one-litre PET bottle weighs 29 grams and has a very good technical performance. It is 100% recyclable and does not require aluminum foil, with excellent acceptance by the consumer” confirms Mr Laercio Barbosa.
From consulting to successful project execution
Once the complete line order was placed in 2013, Jussara and Sidel teams worked closely to align on all the most important topics, from the bottle design to the consumables’ validation and from the scope of supply definition to the line layout. The Sidel complete line includes an aseptic Combi Predis FMa, a Rollquatro Evolution rollfed labeller, a shrinkwrapper, mechanical conveyors for bottles and packs, a palletiser and an overwrapper. Sidel is acting as a consultant to Jussara, working with the company’s employees to help them achieve their goals – an important factor given that it was the first time Jussara has managed such a PET bottling line project.
“We particularly appreciated how the Sidel team shared knowledge and best practice to help us enter as quickly as possible into a PET packaging world that was new to us,” explains Mr Odorico Alexandre Barbosa.
A fast ramp-up to achieve a successful Jussara Max commercial launch
The aseptic line was installed in the second half of 2014 in Jussara’s main plant for UHT milk production. The optimised line layout and its compact footprint simplified the implementation process and allowed fast installation and effective start up. “The technical expertise of the Sidel team contributed to a very quick installation phase. We are also happy with the project execution and the availability of the Sidel team,” comments Mr Odorico Alexandre Barbosa. Sidel also provided a four-week training period at the Jussara site to ensure all employees understand exactly what the equipment can achieve. This training covered the equipment operations, cleaning and sterilisation programmes, as well as maintenance procedures.
After the aseptic validation completed last September, industrial production started with a very fast ramp-up phase. Sidel is also providing a team to monitor the production for the first six months. This contributes to the continued sharing of knowledge with the Jussara team and supports the effective performance of the line. “The bottling line is running at 18,000 bph and has already reached an average of 95% efficiency, reaching up to 98%. We are satisfied with its overall performance and its reliability. In total, more than three million bottles are produced on a monthly basis on this line. As consumer response is very positive, with excellent acceptance of products, we are targeting the maximum line production capacity of 10 million bottles per month by mid-year. We expect to increase our turnover by the end of 2015 to one billion Reales Brasileiros”.