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    Herbal bitters on tour
    Herbal bitters on tour
      The fastest PET bottling line for liquor that Krones has ever installed is up and running - in the West African nation of Ghana. The privately owned enterprise Kasapreko commissioned it in December 2012.

      The line is mainly used to bottle a herbal bitters, said to have an aphrodisiacal effect. Kasapreko is hard put to it to meet the demand for this African digestive bitters.

      Almost every day, in the courtyard of Kasapreko’s facility in Ghana’s capital of Accra, stands a heavy goods truck from Nigeria with an open, overlength trailer. Early in the morning, three men begin to load the truck, carton by carton, each packed with 24 0.20-litre flat PET containers, filled with the herbal Alomo Bitters, with each carton weighing 5.2 kilograms. The truck then begins its journey – to Nigeria, to Lagos 500 kilometres away.

      Nigeria is meanwhile the second-biggest market for Kasapreko, with almost 40 per cent of its sales finding their way over the borders.

      Good things needn’t be expensive

      Dr. Kwabena Adjei was supporting himself and his family as a small-scale trader when towards the end of the 1980s the time of revolutions in Ghana was finally over and business life slowly began to normalise. There was already, of course, a whole series of spirits producers. But almost everyone was buying the flavourings from the same supplier, with the result that everything somehow tasted more or less identical. Dr. Adjei’s idea was to offer the country a little more diversity. He found a producer whose gin flavour accentuated the taste of juniper rather more vividly. In his garage in Accra’s suburb of Nungua, he teamed up with four employees to launch a small-scale bottling operation. In his ancient Volvo, he drove from bar to bar, and offered the proprietors his “Kasapreko Dry Gin” on a commission basis.

      This triggered a boom in demand. Up till then, the Ghanaians’ high expectations for taste, quality, safety and attractive packaging had had to be met with costly imported goods. Kasapreko was the first local producer to put in place a modern-day form of quality control and a product development lab, and to introduce an individualised bottle. With this philosophy, he discovered the proverbial market niche. Today, Kasapreko Dry Gin is the market leader in Ghana’s gin segment:

      A great success

      At the beginning, Dr. Adjei was still using all sorts of different bottles, and even used cartons from other producers, which he turned inside out so as to conceal the printing. Professional-style bottling began in 1997. Alomo Bitters was thus the first Ghanaian herbal bitters to be produced on an industrial scale, and proved to be a great success.
      Kasapreko remains the front-runner on the spirits market, with a share of almost 50 per cent, four times as much as the next-biggest producer. “By 2013, we aim to have doubled the output to ten million cartons”, says a confident Dr. Kwabena Adjei.

      The world’s fastest Krones line for spirits

      In order to reach this target, Kasapreko commissioned two new Krones lines in December 2012. The company first had a new cantilever hall built, measuring 100 times 44 metres. Here, Krones has installed a returnable-glass line rated at 30,000 bottles an hour, and a non-returnable PET line for 40,000 containers per hour – the fastest spirits line Krones has ever installed anywhere in the world.

      Container: convex at the front, concave at the back

      The PET container is concave at the front and convex at the back, which means it can be packed with optimum space-economy. The design had already won an award for successful packaging beforehand. Since the front and back are different in design, it’s essential to orientate the bottles during labelling to ensure that in actual fact only the front is labelled. “It’s rather tricky to meet the technological stipulations involved at this high speed. But the Krones layout team did a brilliant job”, says an appreciative Dr. Kwabena Adjei.

      Knowledge transfer has paid off

      Both lines started operation early in December 2012. “This was made possible by excellent cooperation between the Krones staff, the subsuppliers and our own team”, comments Dr. Kwabena Adjei.

      Affordable products

      “In the African consumer market, it’s the three “A”s that rule: availability, affordability, accessibility“, to quote Dr. Kwabena Adjei. The consumer prices for Alomo Bitters are approximately two US-dollars for the 200-millilitre flat bottles, and about five US-dollars for the 0.75-litre bottle. “That’s very affordable. Which is why the efficiency of the bottling lines is so important, so that the product remains affordable, and we can nonetheless make a profit. And for this we need the very best technology. For the PET containers, too, every gram of weight we save is precious in terms of material-economy.”

      Jump onto the global market

      Now that the two lines have been commissioned, Kasapreko is launching another export campaign. “In five years’ time, we aim to be an internationally respected spirits producer on the global market.” The first step has been taken.

      Selected machines and solutions