Juicy Little Hugs – Daily Juice Products’ juice drinks

Juicy Little Hugs – Daily Juice Products’ juice drinks – Company Profile

Jack Mans

High output plant produces more than 300 million juice drinks per year

Little Hug juice drinks from Daily Juice Products is a market leader in its category.

Daily, which has been at its present location in Verona, Pa., since 1972, is one of the largest drink plants in the United States. It has 12 packaging lines in its 170,000-sq-ft plant. Nine run 24 hours a day seven days a week for much of the year to produce more than 300 million bottles of juice drinks annually.

All of these lines can run Daily’s trademark Little Hugs, and most also run other products. Three other lines run Daily’s cocktail mixes in 750ml and half-gal bottles as well as gallon containers of juice concentrate.

“Daily Juice Products started the single-serve drink category when we introduced Little Hugs in 1985,” says V.P./Operations Don Bonaroti. “Since then we’ve grown into one of the largest manufacturers of these products in the United States.”

The plant produces a wide variety of single-serve drink products, all packaged in HDPE bottles in sizes ranging from 8 to 16 oz. The largest volume product by far is Little Hugs (about 70%), which was the first single-serve fruit drink on the market when it was introduced in 1985.

Daily began producing 16-oz Big Hugs several years ago to go along with the original 8-oz Little Hugs. The two sizes together dominate this category in the U.S. with more than 45% market share, according to President David Bobers. Both sizes are available in eight flavors: fruit punch (the best seller), lemonade, orange, grape, cherry, lemon-lime, blue raspberry and strawberry.

Little Hugs are barrel-shaped containers with foil lids heat-sealed to the top. They are not labeled; ingredient information is printed on the lids.

Big Hugs are an elongated barrel shape with a more conventional tamper-evident plastic snap-on cap and stretch label. All of the other bottles at Daily also have stretch labels.

Daily has parlayed its expertise in single-serve drinks into a diversity of products. Other drinks are in bottles with either conventional tamper-evident caps or push/pull sport caps.

The newest product is a line of 10-oz drinks trade-named Body Slam, which are based on an agreement with the World Wrestling Federation. Introduced at last month’s FMI show, the bottles have pictures of wrestling stars on their labels and on cardboard wrap-around carriers.

Continuous metering

Daily’s juice drinks are composed of liquid sugar, water and water-based solutions containing preservatives and stabilizers and color and flavoring, respectively. In general, the only thing that changes for different flavors is the color/flavoring component.

The four components are metered into a common line and then flow through an in-line mixer at a rate of 110 gal per minute. Components are metered by individual pumps driven by a single vertical shaft with the motor at the top. Pumps are mounted horizontally off of the drive shaft in a “Christmas tree” arrangement.

Each pump is sized specifically for the volume it is to handle. Thus, the water and liquid sugar pumps are much larger than the other two pumps. Each pump is adjusted individually to meter the correct amount of product at a given drive speed. The beauty of this arrangement is that the proportions of components will always remain the same at any drive speed.

After passing through the in-line mixer, product enters the balance tank of a triple tube heat exchanger. It is heated to 190 [degrees] F, held for 16 seconds and then cooled to 90 [degrees] F. Product is diverted after the holding tube to a plate heat exchanger for regenerative preheating of the incoming drink by hot product before final cooling takes place in the triple tube.

Plant addition

Daily added 70,000 sq ft to the plant in 1991 and installed three state-of-the art packaging lines. The addition is composed of a 20,000-sq-ft processing, packaging and blowmolding area and 50,000 sq ft of warehouse.

Processing, filling and capping take place in a separate room, after which bottles are conveyed through a wall into the secondary packaging area. Each line has its own dedicated processing system consisting of two-head meter, in-line mixer and plate pasteurizer. Base mix containing water, liquid sugar and preservatives and stabilizers is made on the main system, and color/flavoring is added by the two-head unit.

Since the only real difference between products is the color/flavor component, the plant has developed an ingenious system to easily change from one to another. Twelve supply tanks containing different components are piped to a panel on each line equipped with quick-connect fittings with shutoff valves. Product is delivered from this panel to the metering pump by a hose. To change color/flavor components, the operator just shuts the valve on the component in use, unplugs the hose from the quick-connect fitting, plugs it into the new fitting and opens that valve.

Three production lines

The plant also installed six blowmolders when it built the addition. Four produce Little Hugs bottles and two produce bottles for other products. Bottles from the two non-Hugs machines pass through sleevers that apply stretch labels for the other products. The plant also has two blow molders in the older section of the plant where the other six packaging lines are located.

All three filling lines start with rotary bottle unscramblers, followed by 36-valve fillers rated at 400 bottles per minute each. The fillers are equipped with integral cappers that apply the conventional tamper-evident plastic caps or sports caps, as well as with capping presses that apply aluminum foil caps. Both cappers are mounted on the filler frame and are driven by the filler.

Capping presses cut the caps, which have an inner layer of glue, from a continuous roll and deliver them down a chute. Little Hugs bottles catch the edges of the caps as they pass beneath the chute. The bottles then enter a rotating turret where heads simultaneously heat seal the cap to the top of the bottle and crimp the aluminum over the edges.

One of the fillers is a unique design that fills four different flavors in sequence. The filler bowl is separated into four quadrants, with each filling nine bottles of a particular flavor.

The filler manufacturer came up with a clever method of delivering four different flavors from stationary pipes into the proper segments of the rotating bowl. A tank with four concentric sections is mounted above the filler and rotates with the filler. Product is delivered through a stationary pipe into each section, which in turn discharges through a stationary pipe into that quadrant of the filler bowl.

Bottles discharge from the filler continuously in nine-bottle increments. A rotary machine diverts the bottles into four lanes each containing bottles of the same flavor. They are then conveyed to a drop packer that loads 24 bottles into a corrugated shipper. Alternatively, the packer can run deeper shippers that will hold two layers of product. When running these shippers, a worker manually places a cardboard pad on top of the first layer after it is deposited.

One of the older lines at Daily is equipped with a machine that applies a plastic carrier to groups of six bottles that are then hand packed into corrugated.

Non-Hugs lines

The other two lines in the plant addition were running non-Hugs products during my visit. One was running 10-oz Big Juicy and the other 8-oz Citrus Squeeze. Both of these products, which utilize labeled bottles, are also available in 16-oz sizes.

Big Juicy, which contains 5% juice, has a squeeze/squirt sports cap. Bottles are either drop-packed into 24-unit shippers or are conveyed to a machine that wraps a cardboard carrier around six 10-oz bottles or four 16-oz bottles. These carriers are then delivered to the drop packer.

Citrus Squeeze, which was introduced last year, contains 10% juice plus vitamins. Both size bottles are packed in 24-unit corrugated shippers and 8-oz bottles are also available as shrink-wrapped eight-packs.

For shrink-wrapped product, bottles are conveyed in bulk to the shrink-wrapper. A large accumulation table is installed to accommodate product during short stoppages. As bottles reach the wrapper, they are split into two lanes of bulk bottles and these are then directed into four lanes with separators. The machine wraps two parallel eight-packs simultaneously.

Eight bottles in each lane are released onto the acceleration conveyor, which delivers them to the wrapping section. Here, the servo-controlled film feed mechanism metes out the proper length of clear film and the product is conveyed onto the film’s leading edge.

While the tray is traveling forward, a single sheet of film is cut from roll and the trailing edge is picked up by the flight bar, which is traveling faster than the bottles. In one motion, as the bottles are still moving forward, the film’s trailing edge is lifted over the top of the package and tucked beneath creating an overlap with the leading edge.

Because the bottles may have moisture on them, the product, which is now wrapped in a sleeve of film, is conveyed over a high temperature heating bar to seal the two edges of the film. The package then travels through the shrink tunnel to create a tightly wrapped package.

Daily’s main distribution area is a 500-mile radius of the plant, but it ships selected products nationwide. The company opened a plant in Casa Grande, Ariz., two years ago to serve the Southwest.

“We’ll ship more than 300 truckloads of product a day during our busy summer season,” says Bonaroti.


One of the largest drink plants in the world. Nine packaging lines in the 170,000-sq-ft plant produce more than 300 million bottles of juice drinks annually. Three other lines run other products.

Plant Facts

* Name: Daily Juice Products

* Location: Verona, Pa.

* Products and packages: Juice drinks in 8- to 20-oz plastic single serve plastic bottles; 750-ml and half-gal cocktail mixes; gal juice concentrate.

* Production: 1.5 million bottles per day

* Site: 11 acres

* Plant size: 170,000 sq ft

* Employees: 350


* President: David Bobers

* V.P.-Operations: Don Bonaroti

COPYRIGHT 1998 Cahners Publishing Company

COPYRIGHT 2000 Gale Group