VENEZUELA - Empresas Polar, a leading Venezuelan food and beverage manufacturer, has broken new ground with the commercial launch of the first ambient stored yogurt in Venezuela.
The non-refrigerated pourable yogurt, called MiGurt, is packaged in an aseptically filled, 750-gram barrier polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottle from Amcor Rigid Plastics. Empresas Polar made its entry into the Venezuelan yogurt market through its subsidiary Pascual Andina and worked with partner Amcor to create a new packaging solution to compete with leading cold distribution channel products.
The multi-serve pourable yogurt product has an extended shelf life of six months and requires no refrigeration prior to opening. The extended shelf life enables Empresas Polar to utilize its extensive nationwide ambient distribution chain to reach consumers including low-income regions not served by refrigerated distribution channels.
Since its introduction late last year, MiGurt has enjoyed major success with sales exceeding expectations, according to Manuel Capdevielle, a director of Empresas Polar.
“A long shelf life yogurt product was a key to commercialization because it provided low-cost distribution and a highly affordable consumer brand,” explained Capdevielle.
Amcor played a key role through custom design of its first light-blocking, aseptically filled PET container. Amcor used advanced barrier technology to meet aseptic filling requirements (up to 60°C) and provide light-blocking capabilities to prevent spoilage and degradation of the yogurt product and maintain its nutritional value.
Moreover, with no refrigeration required and an extended shelf, there were major logistical advantages in terms of inventory control, distribution, and point of sale, said Mercedes Candedo, Diversified Products manager for Amcor's Latin American business.
“The new barrier PET container represents a major development in ambient foods, offering a unique packaging solution that opens up new business opportunities in the food and beverage market,” said Candedo.
Amcor met Empresas Polar’s barrier requirements while also incorporating a unique hour-glass design that minimizes resin use by optimizing PET material distribution throughout the container. “Uniform material distribution is vital for effective light-blocking performance,” explained Chris LaBombarbe, senior technical manager for Amcor Rigid Plastics.
Through a unique preform design, Amcor was able to achieve optimum material distribution, he added: “A uniform material distribution permitted us to achieve sustainable material use while at the same time maintaining light-blocking integrity.”
Amcor also overcame processing challenges due to the bottle’s highly white pigmented, opaque structure by adapting special re-heat technology, according to LaBombarbe. Meanwhile, the bottle’s design elements were maintained and optimized while meeting aseptic fill demands. Design considerations were made to maintain a smooth interior profile which facilitated the aseptic sterilization process.
The barrier PET container features a single-lead 38mm finish with a foil induction seal and is wrapped with a vibrant shrink sleeve label.
Empresas Polar plans to expand the family of MiGurt yogurt with single-serve 100-gram and 250-gram products, according to Capdevielle. In the meantime, the company is ramping up production of its 750-gram product to meet rapidly growing demand in Venezuela.