With an area of 8.5 million square kilometers Brazil is the fifth-largest country in the world – even larger than Australia. It’s thus hardly surprising that the concept of size is treated somewhat differently here. Even if Pernambuco is one of the smaller of the 26 states in this vast country, it still covers about the same area as Portugal. It’s home to about 9 million people, 1.5 million of whom live in Recife, the capital of Pernambuco.
This is where Água Mineral Santa Joana is based, the second-largest mineral water bottler in Brazil, and from where the company is embarking on a march of triumph throughout the neighboring states, steadily continuing to grow. Despite the powerful market here Santa Joana is not banking so much on quantity but quality.
You can understand this when you see how important water is in a country like Brazil. Despite the extremely varied climate, due to the sheer size of Brazil temperatures of well above 30°C in places are not rare throughout the entire country, with the high humidity often making it feel much hotter. The northeast of Brazil especially is often plagued by drought. The last one was at the beginning of 2015 when the water even threatened to dry up in the metropolises of Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo in the south of the country.
This state of affairs frequently puts pressure on Brazil’s politicians who are accused of not planning and implementing any long-term measures to safeguard the country’s water supply. Increasing privatization of what are known as water parks, where multinational food groups drill for water, also causes unrest – and not just among environmental activists fighting for the preservation of the country’s crucial water resources. Water, and especially drinking water, is a relatively important concern in Brazil and Brazilian consumers are becoming more and more critical when it comes to the product they buy.
Sustainability and quality
Regional bottlers do well here – all the more so if they act responsibly towards the environment and at the same time sell quality products. These are the exact same principles Água Mineral Santa Joana has adopted. They have already made the company the market leader in its local region and throughout the rest of the country Água Mineral Santa Joana is attracting much attention as an innovative leader within its sector. It has been investing in the quality of its products and in pioneering and sustainable technology for 20 years. Thanks to its fleet of modern machinery the company now owns a veritable industrial park which earns much recognition throughout Brazil’s mineral water segment.
By investing in its production shop Água Mineral Santa Joana is endeavoring to achieve a unique position on the fiercely contested water market. Consumers take great notice of how sustainably producers act on the market and expect eco-friendly and resource-saving plastic packaging. The company is distinguished by its respect for the environment and its consumers, by its strict adherence to and monitoring of all standards and by the quality of its products from the water drawn at source to its sale to the customer. This has earned the trust of consumers who have made Água Mineral Santa Joana the best-selling water brand from Pernambuco with a market share of around 80%.
Pioneer in South America
Why is the brand so popular throughout almost all strata of society, however? The answer is that the water bottler not only does all it can to protect the environment and the quality of its product but also to cut production and product costs and thus sell at a competitive price. The consumers are the ones who reap the direct benefits – especially those with a low income, of whom there are many.
Água Mineral Santa Joana always sees investments in the context of total operating costs and made with an eye to the total cost of ownership or TCO. Only recently a huge investment was made in bottle lightweighting, giving the company pioneer status through South America, where to date much heavier PET bottles were common in the beverage bottling industry.
Água Mineral Santa Joana opted for KHS as its systems provider for a good reason. “We expect our partners to provide us with plant engineering with which we can realize our ideas. KHS’ suggestions included an entire catalog of measures from optimum bottle design through planning of the line and installation to training for our employees,” explains Lenilson Tôrres Filho, industrial director of Água Mineral Santa Joana. “This had us convinced right from the start. And implementation was extremely efficient,” he says with satisfaction.
To be more specific, a Blomax 12 S stretch blow molder was installed which was linked to the existing filler by an air conveyor and can produce up to 27,000 bottles per hour. For reasons of economy Água Mineral Santa Joana manufactures the major components itself, such as preforms and bottle closures.
The installation and commissioning of the line went so well that Tôrres is inspired to become religious about it. “This project had divine help. There were no problems worth mentioning either during the installation of the lines or when converting the formats from an 18/81 neck to a 26/22 neck. And the minor challenges which arose during the course of the project were immediately mastered by KHS.” He is especially pleased with the bottle design devised by KHS’ Bottles & Shapes™ experts. Tôrres enthuses, “We wanted a stable bottle with a good grip, a trace of sophistication, and accentuated curves in the middle. KHS adopted this idea and developed a bottle which is convincing in its lightness, stability, and – okay, let’s say it – beauty.” The functional aspects of the container also have him convinced. “The result is a bottle with a light base and optimum top load. This puts us well ahead of our market.”
This is quite true: at 8.9 grams the new Santa Joana bottle weighs almost a third less than the standard 0.5-liter PET bottle. Its new 1.5-liter PET bottles are also lighter, with their weight reduced from 26 to 22 grams – equal to a saving of 15.4%. “Around 70% of the manufacturing costs for a PET bottle are attributable to the plastic used. Beverage producers can therefore considerably cut their costs by reducing the amount of materials consumed,” explains Arne Wiese, product manager for Bottles & Shapes™. “For example, with an annual production capacity of 300 million 1.5-liter PET bottles and a reduction of 4 grams in the packaging weight the potential saving totals to up to €1.8 million – that’s €450,000 per year for each gram saved.”
Since it’s too early yet for Tôrres to name the specific savings his company will make, he thus pinpoints some of the other positive effects generated by his latest investment. “To us, the immaterial aspects are also important. I can say this much already: our customers are noticeably more satisfied – and the level of respect and admiration within our sector has actually increased.”