The Petainer® keg is on the up. First presented in 2009, it now holds a 60% share of the world market for non-returnable PET kegs. Petainer and KHS work very closely together on the marketing thereof. While Petainer specifically concentrates on the container itself, KHS’ prime focus is on the plant engineering. In the following interview Nigel Pritchard, group chief executive for Petainer, Annemieke Hartman-Jemmett, Petainer’s group commercial strategy director, and Rainer Deutschmann, the global kegging product account manager at KHS, are quizzed on the interesting success story of the innovative, one-way, plastic keg.

Which beverages is the Petainer® keg designed for and which sizes are in use?

Nigel Pritchard: The Petainer® keg is available in a 15, 20 and 30-liter version. It’s primarily designed for beer but can also be used for wine and slightly sparkling, non-alcoholic beverages.

What are the chief advantages?

Pritchard: There are a lot! The main ones are that fleets of kegs no longer have to be maintained and containers no longer need to be returned to the plant. Other benefits are the Petainer’s low weight, which ensures easy handling during transportation and at hospitality and retail outlets, the fact that it’s fully recyclable and the aspect of quality.

Rainer Deutschmann: It’s also important to note that a lot of the costs involved when the kegs are processed at the plant simply don’t arise with the Petainer. For instance, no keg washing equipment is needed and neither are elaborate identification systems.

When customers opt for the Petainer system instead of the classic, returnable steel keg, can these savings per hectoliter be expressed in euros and cents at all?

Pritchard: Yes. We’ve done some calculations here. Taking all influencing factors into account, we come up with a conservative saving of up to €10.00 per hectoliter at a shipping distance of 5,000 kilometers. Of course, in the end this always depends on the particular case in hand. Petainer® kegs financially out-perform steel kegs at shorter distances, say 2,500 kilometers, and even at 600 kilometers where keg losses are higher and/or keg cycles are lower.

What’s the quality of beverages in Petainer® kegs like? Is it still perfect after a longer period has elapsed?

Annemieke Hartman-Jemmett: Quality is of course the be-all and end-all. We guarantee a minimum shelf life of nine months. The Polyester Plus material with its active oxygen scavenger prevents oxygen penetrating the product and reduces CO₂loss. Pigments in the polyester guard the contents against infiltration of UV light. We recently did some blind tests with the VLB. The result was that consumers found beer which had been stored in a Petainer® keg for six months just as palatable as beer from a returnable steel keg. 

Ein starkes Team – ganz im Sinne der Getränkebranche (v. l. n. r.): Nigel Pritchard, Group Chief Executive, Petainer; Annemieke Hartman-Jemmett, Group Commercial Strategy Director, Petainer; und Rainer Deutschmann, Global Product Account Manager Kegging, KHS GmbH.
Rainer Deutschmann, Global Product Account Manager Kegging, KHS GmbH
Annemieke Hartman-Jemmett, Group Commercial Strategy Director, Petainer
Nigel Pritchard, Group Chief Executive, Petainer

What do the hospitality and retail trades think of the container?

Hartman-Jemmett: They’re pleased with the simple handling and that they no longer have to pay a deposit. They also praise the fact that it’s easy to dispose of and that the fittings are compatible with standard tapping systems, meaning the kegs can be easily connected up to existing tapping equipment.

There are a number of one-way PET keg systems on the market. What speaks loudest for the Petainer® keg in particular?

Pritchard: One decisive point here is undoubtedly our cooperation with KHS as an international market leader for keg system technology.

Deutschmann: If required we visit the customer to­gether and present them with our unique, all-round expertise. Our formula for success is packaging + system technology + information on all levels + marketing support.

“ It’s also important to note that a lot of the costs involved when the kegs are processed at the plant simply don’t arise with the Petainer.”

Rainer Deutschmann, Global Product Account Manager Kegging, KHS GmbH

What do you mean exactly by information on all levels and marketing support?

Hartman-Jemmett: Personal talks, provision of informative materials and even training courses are all part of our services – specifically tailored to suit the customer’s individual needs, of course.

Is the plant technology also specifically engineered to suit individual requirements?

Deutschmann: Of course! We’re planning on also including a single-head filler in our range by the end of the year which can be used to process up to 30 Petainer® kegs an hour. Lines can then be ordered for all required capacities up to an hourly output of 420 Petainer® kegs, each with or without inline production of the containers. And if customers want to first investigate the market acceptance, they can do so by running initial tests on their existing keg line with what’s known as the USD or upside-down Petainer® keg.

“One prime reason for our market success is undoubtedly our cooperation with KHS.”

Nigel Pritchard, Group Chief Executive, Petainer

Which markets do you think are the most promising for the Petainer® keg?

Pritchard: Our focus is on Europe, Russia and the USA. At the same time, with the help of KHS’ global network we’re also penetrating new markets, such as Africa.

Are these acceptance tests a frequent occurrence?

Deutschmann: Yes, they are.

Hartman-Jemmett: However, I don’t know of any incidence where the Petainer® keg was dropped from the range after the first market tests. It just has too many benefits. By the way, for the future we’re planning on also leasing the technical setup out. The beverage producer can then simply return the line on a rise in demand and put the next-highest-capacity machine into operation.

What are your visions for the future of the Petainer® keg?

Deutschmann: I think that in ten years’ time there’ll be a market share of about 20% for one-way kegs worldwide, with Petainer® kegs making up the biggest proportion in this segment.

Pritchard: Basically, this is the only matter where we beg to differ. I think we’ll see a 50% share of non-returnable kegs in ten to 15 years maximum, plus – and this is where we again agree – Petainer will continue to act as market leader together with KHS.

Many thanks for this interview.

The interview was chaired by Friederike Arndt.