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Last updated June 12, 2009


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A.1 Aseptic and Ultra Clean Filling Systems

Filling systems are now available with specified hygiene levels, each offering a different potential shelf life.

Aseptic filling implies no increase in contamination during filling, and if used with UHT processing, allows ambient distribution. Aseptic filling systems provide ‘commercial sterility’ whereby no unwanted organisms will grow in the filled pack.

Ultra clean filling uses various techniques to limit recontamination to minimal levels. Typically systems have non-contact fillers, sterile air flow and rigorous cleaning schedules. Ultra clean systems reduce the presence of organisms to levels approaching zero, but are not designed to ensure zero contamination. The level is sufficiently low, that with chilled distribution preventing growth from any residual organisms, extended shelf life can be achieved.

Clean fillers allow more recontamination (but are cheaper) and are cleaner than standard fillers, of which there are few new installations.

The growth in demand for extended shelf life chilled products has increased the demand for both modified processing systems, and for ultra clean packaging systems.

Most equipment suppliers can provide either ultra clean or aseptic versions of their systems. In many cases, ultra clean systems use the same technology and design as fully aseptic systems but are operated to less rigorous standards, providing lower levels of pack sterility. Thus some ultra clean systems will use hydrogen peroxide, but without enclosing the filler in sterile air and possibly with lower concentrations and less rigorous cleaning systems. More commonly, sterilisation by heat or UV light will be used - these are methods which can be used for aseptic systems, but which equipment suppliers have generally found difficult to maintain total sterility. However, the level of sterility required is sufficient when used in combination with chilled storage, to provide the required shelf life.

The use of aseptic or ultra clean fillers, together with UHT or modified processing, gives the following shelf life for low acid products:

Processing and Filling Method Shelf Life Distribution
Standard pasteurisation/clean fill 6-9 days Chilled distribution
Standard pasteurisation/clean fill 0-13 days Chilled distribution
HTST & ultra clean fill 30+ days Chilled distribution
HTST & aseptic fill 40+ days Chilled distribution
UHT & ultra clean fill 40+ days Chilled distribution
UHT & aseptic fill 90+ days Ambient distribution

If a product is stored in ambient distribution having been sterilised by heat treatment then it has been aseptically filled. If it is not aseptically filled, it will not be sterile. To achieve commercial sterility may however require different levels of organism reduction, depending on the product - whether high acid or low acid.

If products are distributed in chilled conditions, they may or may not be aseptically filled. If they are aseptically filled, the filling cost - capital, labour - will be higher, although the supplier will have the option of reducing distribution costs by using ambient distribution for some or all of the distribution chain if they wish.

The reasons for using aseptic filling and chilled distribution are:

  • Using HTST rather than UHT processing will give improved product quality
  • Consumer perception that products in chilled distribution are better quality (although they may have the same processing profile)

The disadvantage of using aseptic filling and chilled distribution is cost:

  • Distribution costs are higher
  • Aseptic filling costs are about 30% higher - the capital cost is higher, and labour and material costs are also higher.

However, by installing an aseptic filler, companies may use it in aseptic or ultra clean mode, depending on the product.

B White Milk

B.1 Market Size and Trends

Total white milk fluid consumption reached 1,935 million litres in Colombia for 2008 up by just over 5% from 2003 levels. While pasteurised still accounts for two thirds of the market, UHT milk has grown rapidly in this period and now accounts for over 30% up from only 13% in 2003. Practically all of the top producers in the country now offer UHT milk with Alpina and Colanta leading the way.

Consumption of pasteurised milk remains strong, particularly outside the main urban centres, and reached 1,316 million litres in 2008. These levels are forecasted to remain fairly static to 2013, while in UHT the forecast indicates further growth to 737 million litres by 2013.

Consumption of White Milk (Million Litres) 2003-2013
          CAGR% CAGR%
Million Litres 2003 2008 2009 2013 03/08 08/13
Short Life Chilled
Pasteurised 1,600 1,316 1,306 1,311 -3.8 -0.1
ESL 0 0 0 0 - -
Sub-total 1,600 1,316 1,306 1,311 -3.8 -0.1
Long life ambient
UHT 230 619 643 737 21.9 3.6
Sterilised 0 0 0 0 - -
Sub-total 230 619 643 737 21.9 3.6
Total 1,830 1,935 1,949 2,048 1.1 1.1

Source: Zenith International/Warrick Research

B.2 Suppliers

The Colombian dairy industry is considerably more diversified than in neighbouring Peru and there are several key players. The leading producer is Colanta, a dairy cooperative from Antioquia which has expanded throughout the main milk producing regions of central Colombia. The company sells a broad range of white milk products and has a modern UHT processing plant in Funza Cundinamarca, just outside Bogotá. In white milk, Colanta has an estimated quarter of the market (in volume terms) with the vast majority of its sales concentrated in pasteurised products. Other products in its portfolio include cheese, yoghurt, cream and jelly amongst others.

Alqueria-Danone is the number two player in fluid white milk with an overall market share of approximately 20%. The company is the leader in UHT milk and has a dominant presence in Bogotá and the state of Cundinamarca. The company commercialises pasteurised milk in addition to UHT products and it is acting as the anchor for the expansion of Danone in the Andean region.

Alpina is the number three player in terms of white milk with a market share of about 10%. The company is very well established in Cundinamarca and Boyacá as well as in other areas of the country. Alpina is exporting milk products including UHT and cheese to Ecuador, Venezuela, Peru and the Caribbean. Alpina only produces UHT milk and is the market leader in that segment of white milk. In addition to fluid milk the company has a broad portfolio of products including cheese, yoghurt, fermented milk, desserts, juice & nectars amongst others.

Parmalat-Proleche is another important player through its range of UHT milk, pasteurised milk and other products. Parmalat-Proleche has around a 10% share in the UHT milk category and it has lost some ground in the pasteurised milk segment. The company has struggled to grow its share of market as it does not have the same access to distribution as larger competitors like Alpina and Alqueria. Parmalat-Proleche is implementing a strategy for extending its distribution network and this should yield some results by the end of 2009. It will also focus on higher added value products, particularly UHT and APP (aseptic pouch pack), both fast growing segments.

Other important players include Algarra which is owned by Grupo Gloria of Peru and Colacteos, a dairy cooperative.

B.3 Ambient Products - Processing Methods

In recent years, Colombians, particularly those living in the largest cities, have shifted in part their consumption habits from pasteurised milk towards ambient milks. Local and international companies have positioned UHT milk as a safe longer lasting alternative and that has been highly appealing to the consumer.

Pasteurised milk still accounts for the majority of the market at two thirds nationally but in the main cities the proportion goes down to about fifty-fifty and in some cases UHT is even bigger in size than pasteurised.

B.4 UHT Milk and Use of Aseptic Packaging

UHT milk is one of the most rapidly growing segments in the dairy industry. With total volume at 619 million litres the industry is now well established and moving towards achieving 40% market share in fluid milk in the medium term (36% by 2013).

Tetra Pak is the key supplier of packaging solutions to the UHT industry particularly with Tetra Brik Aseptic (classic 1 litre aseptic carton) and Tetra Fino Aseptic (200ml to 1 litre) plastic pouch. The second supplier is DuPont with its line of liquid packaging solutions. Tetra Pak has an estimated 90% market share.

Aseptic pouch packs offer UHT milk at lower prices and consumers often choose pouch over carton based on price. Furthermore, most companies including Alqueria-Danone offer aseptic pouches in 900ml allowing for an even lower price than an equivalent 1 litre carton. In total, plastic pouches accounted for 408 million litres out of the total 619 million litres consumed in 2008, this is equivalent to two-thirds. Pouches up to 499ml are roughly a third of those over 499ml with 900ml being the most popular format. La Alqueria, the leading UHT brand, sells more 900ml aseptic pouches than any other product in its portfolio.

UHT cartons stood at 210 million litres with the vast majority being 1 litre packs and only 12 million litres being under 500ml in volume. White milk remains a family consumption item and it is not that popular as a lunch box drink, hence the reason for a relatively low volume in under 500ml packs.

UHT White Milk Aseptic Packaging Use By Pack Type/Size (Million Litres) 2003-2013
          CAGR% CAGR%
Million Litres 2003 2008 2009 2013 03/08 08/13
Cartons - Family (500ml and over) 25 198 212 258 51.3 5.4
Cartons - Portion (up to 499ml) 5 12 13 15 19.9 3.6
HDPE Bottles (500ml and over) 0 0 0 0 - -
HDPE Bottles (up to 499 ml) 0 0 0 0 - -
PET Bottles (500ml and over) 0 0 0 0 - -
PET Bottles (up to 499ml) 0 0 0 0 - -
Plastic pouches (500ml and over) 150 297 315 347 14.7 3.1
Plastic pouches (up to 499ml) 50 111 103 118 17.4 1.1
Plastic pots (50ml and over) 0 0 0 0 - -
Plastic pots (up to 49ml) 0 0 0 0 - -
Bag-in-Box 0 0 0 0 - -
Other - glass, cans, aerosols, stick 0 0 0 0 - -
Total 230 619 643 737 21.9 3.6

Source: Zenith International/Warrick Research

UHT White Milk Aseptic Packaging Use By Pack Type/Size (Million Units) 2003-2013
          CAGR% CAGR%
Million Litres 2003 2008 2009 2013 03/08 08/13
Cartons - Family (500ml and over) 25 198 212 258 51.3 5.4
Cartons - Portion (up to 499ml) 17 41 43 49 19.9 3.6
HDPE Bottles (500ml and over) 0 0 0 0 - -
HDPE Bottles (up to 499 ml) 0 0 0 0 - -
PET Bottles (500ml and over) 0 0 0 0 - -
PET Bottles (up to 499ml) 0 0 0 0 - -
Plastic pouches (500ml and over) 150 297 315 347 14.7 3.1
Plastic pouches (up to 499ml) 167 372 343 393 17.4 1.1
Plastic pots (50ml and over) 0 0 0 0 - -
Plastic pots (up to 49ml) 0 0 0 0 - -
Bag-in-Box 0 0 0 0 - -
Other - glass, cans, aerosols, stick 0 0 0 0 - -
Total 358 908 913 1,047 20.4 2.9

Source: Zenith International/Warrick Research

B.5 Future Trends

The consumer preference shift from pasteurised milk towards UHT has been significant since 2003. It is very plausible that this shift continues, particularly with middle and working class consumers in the cities. Most suppliers offer constant promotions at the point of sale for multipacks of 1 litre cartons or 900ml pouches. Alpina often offers 6 for the price of 5 in retailers such as Carulla and Exito, while Parmalat offers 5 for the price of 4 in certain strategic areas of Bogotá.

UHT packaging use is estimated to surpass the one billion units by 2013, with plastic pouches continuing to be the largest segment within the category. Lower prices are the main reason for the strong performance of this format versus cartons.

Continued foreign direct investment has given the industry extra capacity for growth and commercialisation of products. Danone will increase its efforts in the country through its joint venture with Alqueria and a priority for the company is to maintain its dominance in the UHT market in Bogota. In addition, the company will be launching new functional drinks including a line of yoghurts.

In West Europe, the UHT milk market is in slow decline, with no significant growth in any major market. There is a strong trend in some national markets towards the use of ESL milk, which is tending to replace standard pasteurised milk rather than UHT milk.

The use of aseptic packaging for beverages will also show little growth in the period to 2013. As most beverage companies in West Europe have opted for aseptic filling of plastic bottles, only limited replacement of hot filling or preservatives is possible. Most of the beverage markets are stable, with rapid growth prospects limited to sports drinks and energy drinks in some national markets. Over the last few years there has been strong growth in aseptic filling of PET bottles in Germany and some other countries, taking market share from aseptically filled cartons or hot filled glass bottles; the main growth phase of this trend is probably now over.

Growth areas in aseptic packaging use in West Europe have included baby foods in plastic pots, and bag-in- box in food service applications. There has also been investment by dairy companies in aseptic fillers for plastic pots for desserts, and aseptic fillers for PET bottles for liquid dairy products; these facilities are often used for products going into chilled distribution, but give an option to fill ambient products.

B.6 Use of Aseptic Packaging by Product

In 2008, total aseptic packaging use was nearly 29 billion litres, using over 48 billion packs. In the next 5 years up to 2013, usage is expected to increase slightly, by about 1 billion litres.

Aseptic Packaging Use By Product (Million Litres) 2003-2013
          CAGR% CAGR%
Million Litres 2003 2008 2009 2013 03/08 08/13
White Milk 14,525 14,281 14,257 14,063 -0.3 -0.3
Other Dairy Products 2,031 2,298 2,279 2,398 2.5 0.9
Beverages 10,073 11,464 11,501 12,561 2.6 1.8
Other Products 608 746 764 877 4.2 3.3
Total 27,237 28,789 28,800 29,900 1.1 0.8

Source: Zenith International/Warrick Research

Aseptic Packaging Use By Product (Million Units) 2003-2013
          CAGR% CAGR%
Million Litres 2003 2008 2009 2013 03/08 08/13
White Milk 17,216 17,142 17,103 17,098 -0.1 -0.1
Other Dairy Products 12,434 12,564 12,555 13,054 0.2 0.8
Beverages 14,880 17,258 17,390 19,206 3.0 2.2
Other Products 1,011 1,410 1,432 1,669 6.9 3.4
Total 45,540 48,374 48,480 51,027 1.2 1.1

Source: Zenith International/Warrick Research


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World Markets for Aseptic Packaging - Table of Contents

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