PET bottles to differentiate edible oil for largest Indian producer

PET bottles to differentiate… India's largest producer of mustard oil is to differentiate its products from others in the market following the installation of the first ever Sidel complete PET bottling line for edible oil in the South East Asia Pacific region.

The Sidel line, including a Combi system, is producing bottles for B L Agro Oils, a company which has recognised the advantages that PET brings as a packaging material in terms of brand differentiation, customer experience, performance and sustainability.

Government supports domestic production

India is one of the world's leading users of edible oil, with a per capita consumption of around 14.4 kg per year in 2013-2014. During the same period, domestic producers generated 7.6 million tonnes of edible oils from primary and secondary sources. One of those producers is B L Agro Oils, a company based in Bareilly in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, and which produces 50-60% of India's total production of mustard oil. It has a total production capacity of 250,000 tonnes per year across the company's two main sites: one in Parsakhera with three production lines and one in Jauharpur with a single line.

Around 80-85% of the companies involved in producing edible oils in India are packaging their products in pouches. As the fastest growing edible oil producer in the country and as part of its commitment to continue to grow the business and help increase domestic volumes, B L Agro Oils decided to extend the bottling of its oils in PET. Recognising the opportunities that bottling in PET provides to differentiate the company's products, as well as improving its production volumes and offering flexibility in its packaging processes, B L Agro Oils approached Sidel, the leading global provider of PET solutions for liquid packaging. Ashish Khandelwal, Executive Director at B L Agro, said - "We knew of Sidel's excellent reputation in liquid packaging and it was a natural choice for us to speak to them when we decided to develop our capabilities in bottling our edible oil in PET."

Growth of PET as a safe packaging material for oil

PET has been the packaging material of choice for bottling water and carbonated soft drinks for many years and, more recently, has seen increased adoption as a packaging solution for liquid dairy products, beer and other food products such as ketchup. Its benefits are also recognised by producers of edible oils with its capacity to ensure the all-important product integrity, maintain great taste, offer a premium look and feel, create a more convenient experience for the consumer and provide significant cost and environmental benefits in the production and supply process. PET offers the safety, convenience, re-sealability and recyclability for which consumers are looking, while it is shatterproof, unlike glass, which is often used for packaging edible oils today. For all these reasons, the transition from glass and other materials to PET looks set to continue as producers and consumers recognise the advantages it offers.

BL Agro oil cornAs with any product which is for human consumption, safety is vitally important. Mr Khandelwal continues - "Food safety is non-negotiable and the most important consideration in what we do as a business. From sourcing raw materials through to quality control, refining, blending and packaging - the safety of what we produce is always a focus." When packaging is in direct contact with its contents it needs to meet the very highest standards of product quality and safety. The choice of material is equally important and usually determined by the required shelf life and consumer expectations of the finished product. PET has been successfully in use for over 40 years in packaging food and beverage products and has been fully approved for food and drug use by all official food safety organisations, including the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). This is because it is a biologically inert plastic, with well-defined constituent materials and no additives required for enhanced performance.

As part of the packaging development process, Sidel's in-house scientists analysed how the oils performed when packaged in PET, simulating the environmental conditions to which the product would be subjected throughout the supply chain in the company's dedicated laboratories. This liquid-package interaction analysis focused on the effects of light, oxygen and temperature on the B L Agro Oils. Factors such as viscosity, density and surface tension were all considered, as well as the effect that the filling temperature has in terms of variation of the volume of the edible oils. Mr Khandelwal comments - "Testing how our oils performed in PET and in different environmental conditions allowed us to arrive at the optimum packaging solution for our products. PET allows us to maintain the taste of our oils - especially important to our Bail Kolhu Kacchhi Ghani mustard oil which has a particularly distinctive taste - as well as their nutritional properties through the vitamins and minerals they contain."

The Sidel Group designs, manufactures, assembles, supplies and sells complete packaging lines for liquid foods packaged.