$2 Billion Consumer Plastics Packaging Segment Set for Shake-Up as Oman Company Enters Polyester Market with $300 Million Investment



    MUSCAT, Oman, CINCINNATI, and LONDON, Sept. 17 /CNW/ -- An Oman- based
company, Octal Holding and Co. SAOC (www.octalglobal.com), is poised to shake
up the clear rigid plastic packaging industry, with an integrated PET resin
and APET sheet manufacturing facility coming on stream in May 2008.
    Octal's announcement, made in Cincinnati at the 17th Annual SPE
Thermoforming Conference underway at the Duke Energy Convention Center, booth
135, is in response to clear growth trends for convenience food packaging and
the increased use of clear rigid packaging for consumer products.
    "Growth of APET as a packaging material has been strong," said William J.
'Joe' Barenberg, chief operating officer of Octal based out of the company's
global sales center in Dallas, Texas. "But lack of reliable capacity and
inefficiencies in the manufacturing and logistics of delivering the finished
package, have held its growth well below potential.
    "Our value proposition is to deliver the highest quality and most
consistent APET sheet to our thermoforming, brand and retailer partners to
enable them to achieve the highest level of productivity and yield. This will
dramatically improve the economics of APET clear rigid packaging and
facilitate conversion to APET in applications where it is the best material
choice, but where economics had previously precluded its use."
    Octal, which started initial operations in December 2006, has been
delivering superior quality APET sheet with improved gauge control that can
reduce a thermoformer's raw material costs and increase its productivity. When
gauge is held to less than one percent variation, packaging manufacturers know
exactly how many trays they will produce per metric ton of APET sheet. "That
also means that they don't have to worry about unpredictable thin spots,
making it possible to further reduce the sheet's gauge to save cost," said Mr.
Barenberg.  "Taken together, this can mean savings from three to eight
percent."
    State-of-the-art customized equipment used by Octal ensures rolls of
sheet are usable from the outer layer all the way to the core.  The end result
is an APET sheet with superior gauge control, gloss and transparency,
providing more rapid cycle times, higher yields, better end tray quality and
lower cost.
    The company's plant is the first to be developed that is dedicated fully
to APET production from resin to sheet.  This is in contrast to the existing
state of the industry, where resin engineered primarily for beverage bottles,
is also used for thermoforming.
    With its plant adjacent to Salalah Port in Salalah, Oman, Octal is
ideally located on the east-west trade routes, resulting in fast and efficient
global distribution.  Deliveries of APET sheet can be made to virtually any
port in the world within 12 to 18 days.  Distribution, sales and customer
service operations are located in the United States, Europe and Asia.
    Octal initially entered the market in late 2006 with 20,000 metric tons
of capacity.  An additional 10,000 metric tons are scheduled to come on stream
in September 2007.  This will be followed in May 2008 by a new twin PET resin
and APET sheet complex, providing an additional 300,000 metric tons of APET
sheet- making capacity.  At that stage, Octal will be five times larger than
the next merchant producer of APET sheet and the largest PET manufacturer in
the Gulf region. Octal is investing over $300 million in its proprietary
technology and custom engineered production lines to manufacture both PET
resin and APET rigid films.  This capacity represents nearly 20 percent of the
total industry output of APET sheet, and provides manufacturers with assured
supply so they can convert their complete packaging production.
    "Our entire process -- from raw materials to finished APET sheet rolls --
has been designed with the thermoformer in mind," said Mr. Barenberg. "Our
strategy is to rationalize the production process, provide cost-efficiencies
for thermoformers and packagers, and a sheet that delivers the most
aesthetically appealing package possible.  Our approach addresses the
longstanding deficiencies that have hampered the large-scale expansion of APET
as a packaging substrate.  By mid-2008, Octal will have sales of $500 million
per annum as a base from which to double capacity within 20 months."
    Octal's focus on APET sheet responds to converging global trends of
consumer lifestyles that increasingly demand convenience packaging and the
industry's growing need for increased scale and improved economics.  APET
sheet is the fastest growing material for the clear rigid plastic packaging of
food and consumer products.  It is processed by thermoformers and brands, with
the majority of the resulting clear plastic trays used for packaging fresh
foods and dairy products, where its oxygen barrier properties make it an ideal
and natural first choice.  It is also making rapid inroads into the cold drink
cup market. The remainder is used for the packaging of fast moving consumer
products such as toys, electronics, and hardware.  APET is replacing PVC and
styrenic polymers, favored for new applications where its clarity, gloss and
mechanical toughness make it an ideal material for goods that require from
both product protection and shelf impact.
    Worldwide demand for APET produced total sales of approximately $2.25
billion in 2006.  The timing of Octal's substantial and continuing investment
schedule matches the growing demand for this material, and it is hardly
surprising that the company is confident of success.
    John Maxwell, vice president of sales for Octal, added: "Our
thermoforming customers need a supplier who becomes a technical asset in
helping them to reduce costs and to support innovation. Octal delivers a
product that allows them to be more innovative in both design and reducing
costs."
    Commenting on the company's commitment to becoming a global provider, Mr.
Barenberg added:  "Packagers, whether single location or global, need a
partner who is well matched to their own footprint -- a supplier who, with one
call, provides both a product and service solution to one location or to
multiple locations worldwide. At a time when APET packaging is taking share
from other polymers, ours is the only company making such a substantial
investment in support of APET.  As a high quality producer in a rapidly
expanding industry, we are confident of our role in supporting large scale
packaging users in their global initiatives and growth ambitions."
    For product and sales information, contact info@octalglobal.com; or call
+1-972-985-4370.
    Octal Holding SAOC (www.octalglobal.com), established in 2006, is rapidly
becoming the world's largest producer of APET sheet, delivering to brands and
the packaging industry superior gauge control, gloss and transparency for
rigid plastic packages.  The company is setting the standard in APET packaging
through its patented technology and proprietary processes, featuring the
tightest caliper control and tolerances in the industry.  Octal's APET sheet
provides more rapid cycle times, higher yield, better end tray quality and
lower cost.  With state-of-the-art manufacturing based in the Middle East,
Octal has sales and customer support operations in the United States, Europe
and Asia.




For further information:

For further information: North America, Christa Conte, +1-212-896-1238, 
cconte@kcsa.com, or Henry Feintuch, +1-212-896-1212, hfeintuch@kcsa.com,  both
of KCSA Worldwide; or Europe, Jonquil Simons, +44-0-78-6046-6959, or Holly 
Linnell, +44-20-7323-1587, octal@pielleconsulting.com, both of PIELLE 
Consulting; all for Octal Holding and Co. SAOC

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