14 September 2004

Coop Italia Sets a Natural Table

Major Italian Grocery Chain to Carry Corn-Based Plasticsop to Offer Disposable Food Service Products

BOLOGNA, ITALY – Leading Italian grocery chain Coop Italia is introducing a selection of disposable tableware made from corn-based plastic, NatureWorks™ PLA, to its eco-logici branded product line.

Coop Italia is the first retailer in Europe to offer the new tableware, which is made from 100 percent corn, and is a more sustainable alternative to traditional plastic food service items. In addition to its natural source, where the infrastructure exists, NatureWorks PLA will also degrade in municipal composting facilities.

“All products branded with our Coop eco-logici brand are created with respect for the environment today so we will have a clean and livable environment in the future,” said Ulisse Pedretti, director of innovative packaging strategies at Coop Italia. “The tableware made from NatureWorks PLA is one of the few non-food items we have labeled with our eco-logici brand because it meets our standards for providing an environmental benefit.”

Coop introduced the corn-based tableware at SANA in Bologna, 9-12 September, by giving away more than 4,000 sample packages to prospective consumers. Cups, bowls and plates will be available in stores across Italy in late September, with additional tableware products expected in the future. The products are brightly packaged in green and red, with a clear and user-friendly illustration showing the lifecycle of the tableware, from maize to the table and from disposal to compost.

Adding the nature-based tableware to Coop’s eco-logici brand reflects the company’s long-term commitment to protecting and sustaining the environment. Coop first introduced the eco-logici brand in 2000, and in the past four years has gradually introduced 11 non-food items such as laundry (kitchen) detergents, household cleaning products and personal care items. Eco-logici products account for nearly 3 percent of Coop Italia private label products.

Coop Italia also uses NatureWorks PLA packaging for portion packs of cheese and organic cherry tomatoes. Both “natural-in-natural” offerings are available at several store locations.

Market research shows that Italian consumers value alternatives to conventional plastic packaging like NatureWorks PLA. In a recent survey of supermarket customers by Grapentine Company, 68 percent of Italian shoppers ranked the concept of purchasing fresh food in clear, nature-based packaging as “very desirable”. Respondents’ preference for nature-based packaging was equal, and at times even more desirable than two other grocery retail trends: fresh herbs, and organic meat and vegetables.

“Tableware made from NatureWorks PLA is a wholesome, natural choice. Like regular plasticware, it’s sturdy and strong and just as convenient and economical to use. But, consumers can feel good about putting it on the family table, because it is more sustainable since it’s made from a resource that can be regrown every year, and offers environmentally friendly disposal options like composting,” said Stefano Cavallo, business development manager for Cargill Dow BV, which makes NatureWorks PLA.

Coop Italia worked closely with manufacturing partner, Ilip, a division of I.L.P.A. s.r.l., based in Bologna, Italy, to develop the new eco-logica tableware. Cups are packaged in bundles of 25; plates and bowls in packages of 15 each. All products are recommended for single use.

About Coop Italia
Coop is the leading grocery retailer in Italy, and celebrates its 150th anniversary in 2004. Since its start as a small group of cooperatives in Turin, Coop Italia has grown to include 175 cooperatives nationwide, including Coop Supermercati and Coop Ipermercati stores. Coop later became Coop Italia. Coop Italia’s 49,000 employees serve more than five million members (soci). Coop Italia had sales of approximately 11.010 million euro in 2003, an increase of 11.7 percent over 2002. Coop Italia’s mission is to provide customers with quality, low-cost products, and to conduct all its business in a manner that respects customers, employees, the local communities and the environment.

About Ilip
Founded in 1965 and based in Bologna, Italy, ILIP is a division of Ilpa group. Ilpa srl, 105mln euro as overall turnover and 440 employees in 2003, is one of Europe’s largest plastic material converters. Ilip has two main businesses: disposable tableware and packaging for fruits and vegetables. Indeed Illip makes a wide-range of packaging articles, including punnets, trays and fruit inserts and a great number of these items are now available in NatureWorks PLA. The disposable tableware range is mainly for private label and catering.

Cargill Dow LLC
Michael O’Brien
Tel: +1-952-984-3306
E-Mail: michael_o’brien@cargilldow.com

Coop Italia
Marzia Ruoso
Tel: +39-051-596218

(Vgl. Meldung vom 2004-07-14.)

Source: Cargill Dow LLC.-Press Release, Sept. 09, 2004.

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