Jefferson Smurfit courts wine industry from Mississauga bag-making plant
"Well done, but lads, we're only starting." Those were the words of Tony Smurfit, president and CEO of in...
"Well done, but lads, we’re only starting." Those were the words of Tony Smurfit, president and CEO of international packaging supplier Jefferson Smurfit Group, to the crew which started up Smurfit’s North American production facility for Bag-in-Box packages last month in Mississauga, ON. Smurfit is a strong player in wine cask (bag inside a box) category in Europe, and has plans to boost its presence in the North American market from a local base. The bag-in-box concept, which can be used for wine or other liquid foods, consists of a multi-layer bag fitted with a dispenser and enclosed in a corrugated cardboard box.
Smurfit Bag-in-Box Canada is the culmination of four years of market development for Christophe de Carbonnires, managing director of the Canadian operation. Among Smurfit’s North American customers are Ontario winemaker Vincor International and the SAQ, Quebec’s liquor sales agency. Worldwide, Smurfit expects to sell 80 million bags this year.
The 24,000 sq. ft. Mississauga plant has a single converting line at the moment, but there are plans and space for two more lines to accommodate market growth. The bag-making machine is supplied by Maverick of South Africa, and the plastic taps, trademarked Vitop, are made by Smurfit in Italy. The film is generally a co-extruded EVOH. De Carbonnires notes that the company is seeking a local supplier for the film.
Sales of wine in the cask format have been growing steadily for the past decade. Smurfit reports average growth of this market is 34% per year. In Canada, according to the Association of Canadian Distillers, approximately 252 litres of wine was sold last year; 11% of that was in casks.