Volume 12 | Issue 2 | Year 2009

CDF Corporation is one of those rare companies in which innovation is strictly done according to what a customer requires – not according to market trends. And yet, what customers require often become the market trends as people acknowledge the function and convenience of CDF’s products.
The company, an intermediate bulk container, pail and drum liner manufacturer, produces a line of value-added products used in industrial shipping containers. A family owned company, CDF, Plymouth, Mass., has maintained since its inception in 1971 a commitment to personalized service, rapid response to customers’ needs and flexibility in the manufacture of products that provide cost effective solutions to container problems.

It’s the flexibility and penchant for innovation that has earned it the respect of customers, among these NASA, which gave the company an award for developing pail liners used aboard the space shuttle that would prohibit leaks and contamination. And Chevron, a company which, as far back as the 1980s was focused on sustainability, tapped CDF after California passed a law prohibiting industrial drums in landfills, relates CDF COO Laura Beechwood. Chevron had a problem with a byproduct of its lubrication grease and was seeking to reuse the drums, facilitating the invention of liners that could contain the contaminant.

Because of these and other projects, CDF has grown into America’s fastest growing supplier of bags and liners for intermediate bulk containers and with a dedicated IBC building has become a leading supplier of IBC liners, which have allowed the company to expand operations into the aseptic packaging and FIBC (dry) industries.

“Our business model is extremely entrepreneurial and because of that we will try new ways of doing business, such as investing in new machinery and manufacturing techniques,” Beechwood says, adding the company has an estimated 80-90 percent market share in vacuum formed and IBC products. “We have the flexibility to try something new and give it enough time to develop; that flexibility works well for us.”

One product that has made inroads in the industry is CDF’s Cheertainer “bag in box,” which CDF describes as “an innovative, flexible package that flattens the competition.” A gusseted, form-fit multi-ply bag, the Cheertainer bag in box is marketed to the chemicals, cosmetics, food & beverage and medical markets.

“Cheertainer has been manufactured here for two years but the product goes back to 1995 in Asia,” relates Cheertainer Product Manager Iris Kennedy (the product is patented and owned by Japan’s Hosokawa Yoko Co., Ltd.). Kennedy says the product is good for “beverage bases” – lemonade, iced tea, coffee and olive oil – and can handle many applications in liquid food or paint, ink and petroleum. Its biggest market is manufacturing. Chemicals, cosmetics, food & beverage and medical are among the additional uses for Cheertainer.

“It’s a flexible bag, and a replacement to rigid packaging,” Kennedy says, adding that Cheertainer has been a “real hit” because of the sustainable movement. “The bags use less plastic, which translates into savings in warehouse space and transportation, which saves fuel and money,” she says. “They generally have lower cost performance because they’re better in fill and dispensing. It dispenses almost 100 percent of product,” which means, she adds, “there’s not a lot of product trapped in the fold. It’s also safer than rigid packaging.” In Plymouth, CDF is capable of making five million bags a year but the plant is still a long way from reaching capacity.

Other advantages of the Cheertainer:

  • it is a replacement for many rigid packages, including cube-shaped inserts, cans and plastic pails; suitable for use with manual, semi-automatic and fully automatic fill lines;
  • it is virtually a flat bag, minimizing shipping and warehouse space requirements;
  • the flexible, cube shape minimizes dead space, allowing more product per pallet;
  • lack of internal folds means improved, more-accurate filling and more than 99.9 percent dispensing of nearly any product without surging or glugging;
  • it offers excellent quality due to its superior seam strength;
  • it fills without air, so there is no foaming or splashing;
  • the fitment is always in the correct position in the box;
  • the Cheertainer bag in box is UN rated and certified for air transport.

Another popular product is Cheer Pack, which also originated from Hosokawa. Steve Gosling, CDF’s technical director of R&D and new product development, who also runs Cheer Pack’s North American business, describes it as a “stand up pouch with a fitting like a toothpaste cap, good for dispensing yogurts, ice creams and jellies.” CDF has supplied its Cheer Pack packaging to Dole Foods Canada, which uses it for its five flavors of applesauce, while it also works with co-packers in Toronto to further distribute the product, which, as Gosling says, is expected to double volume by next year.

“We produce 1.2 billion pouches a year with this fitting and 90 percent is for children’s products,” Gosling says. At present products contained in Cheer Pack sell in seven national food stores and there are new products slated to be sold at Babies R Us and Whole Foods. “It’s very convenient because it can be reclosed; it’s shelf stable for 24 months and it’s easy to use. There’s no spill, compared to cups.”

Also, the Cheer Pack pouch features an easy-flow straw with a re-closable, tamper-evident, screw-on top. The pouch is made from a multi-layer laminate material. An outer layer of polyester is used for high-resolution graphics printing, a layer of aluminum foil for excellent barrier properties, another layer of polyester for shock and pressure resistance and a final, internal layer of polyethylene for direct food contact. The material is Rotogravure printed for high quality printing.

Typical Cheer Pack markets include energy drinks (isotonic and sports drinks, highly nutritional energy gels, integrators); beverages, including fruit juices, light or mildly alcoholic drinks, tea, coffee, milkshakes; snacks such as ice cream, yogurt and sorbet; sauces like mayonnaise, salad oils, tomato sauce, herb pastes; industrial inks and gels, and finally, cosmetics, which includes shampoo, conditioner, lotion, cream, and foundation.

Another product on the CDF roster is the Smart Pail, developed for high viscosity products, specifically in line with a request from Dawn Foods. The Smart Pail is a thin vacuum formed plastic liner with a hermetically sealed plastic lid, corrugated box and corrugated lid. The user simply removes the corrugated lid, peels back the sealed plastic lid, then pumps or trowels the product.

Through its design, Smart Pail ensures the absolute purity of a product and has an open top for easy access to pour, pump, stir or scoop product. It weighs 0.3 pounds versus 2.25 pounds of a 20-liter pail (7.5 to 1 ratio weight savings). It will fit into existing fill lines, and only requires a lidding applicator and carton erecting equipment.

“It’s exciting to develop solutions in one market that we can bring to other markets, which is what happened with Smart Pail,” Beechwood says. When Smart Pail was launched, she relates, “We wondered what other markets were out there with similar needs.” As a result of that research the company is about to launch a similar product line for a major cosmetic customer.

The goal, she adds, “is to be at least number one or number two in all the markets we go into. The way to get market share is to sell to a broad industrial base and offer incentives to buy from us. We’ve also been successful because we have very loyal customers.”

But its penchant for innovative thinking is because the spirit of innovation is built into CDF’s DNA. “Our whole reason for being was to create company to bring best in class packaging to industrial customers; to give them a competitive edge,” Beechwood says. “Because of that we had to look outside of the box in terms of solutions.”

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