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Okanagan: Judging juice by its cover

Lesley Bradley, vice-president of operations for SunRype, demonstrates the pour that won her company a huge market share in Eastern Canada where the company
Lesley Bradley, vice-president of operations for SunRype, demonstrates the pour that won her company a huge market share in Eastern Canada where the company's lacked the brand recognition to dominate.
— image credit: Jennifer Smith

There is a distressed wall in the SunRype plant off Clement Avenue with pin-ups of old labels to make an antique collector swoon.

Originally bare to the strong rays that make fruit a core business in this town, a heady growth curve has left the wooden slats buried well in the bowels of the monolithic, yellow structure.

The SunRype block is a fixture around these parts and, if the company's leadership has its say, this is how it will remain as it wages a solid battle to remain a force in the global food trade.

"If you really want to wind me up, ask me if we're moving to the U.S.," says Dave McAnerney, president and CEO, SunRype Products Ltd. "That one comes up every once in a while and I have no idea why. It makes no business sense."

Known for its tight-lipped communication, SunRype was out to dispel those rumours Thursday, showcasing the $7-million dollar Elopack production line reportedly blowing the doors off sales in Eastern Canada and pushing the company's brand south of the border.

While its blue-label juice boasts a 65 per cent market share in Western Canada, brand recognition was not winning the compnay favours in the East, until their business minds tracked down a new drip-free, easy-pour package.

The smaller, 900-mL cardboard juice container is proving worth its weight in gold, according to company execs.

"Some customers that had three SKU (stock keeping units), now have 16," said Lesley Bradley, vice-president of operations.

The container has the largest lid of any package on the market and it breaks its own seal when opened for the first time, eliminating the tear-strip or pull-tab one might expect.

But the real clincher: it doesn't drip.

The Wal-Marts and Costcos and Safeways love it and, as 85 per cent of the carton is made from paper, a renewable resource, it also gives SunRype an environmentally-friendly edge with consumers.

While the products are always adapting—they've recently added energy bars and enhanced nutrition, or wellness lines, cut sugar and picked up the coconut water and stevia trends—the production line and its packaging are making Kelowna's favourite juice producer a household name across the country.

And as for whether the success precipitates a more global perspective on location, the president says: no. SunRype has been headquartered in the same office since 1946 and McAnerney intends to keep it that way.

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