Coke tests drink in paper bottle and other business news – Chattanooga Times Free Press


Coke tests drink in paper bottle

Coca-Cola Co., which first bottled its soft drink in Chattanooga in the late 19th century, is now choosing paper over plastic in a sales trial involving a drink in a paper bottle.

The test doesn’t involve the curvy, iconic bottle of the flagship Coke brand, though. In what the company describes as a limited online trial launching this summer, 2,000 paper bottles of AdeZ, a plant-based drink, will be sold to consumers via online grocer in Hungary.

The Atlanta-based soft drink giant says the packaging, created along with Danish company Paboco, is still under development, but it wants to test how it performs for consumers.

«This is new technology, and we are moving in uncharted territory,» Stijn Franssen, a packaging innovation manager for CocaCola Europe, said in a statement. «We have to invent the technical solutions as we go along.»

The bottle being tested with consumers isn’t all paper. Its inner lining and cap are plastic, though the company said it hopes to eventually have a fully recyclable paper bottle without plastic.

Coke hasn’t disclosed any specific plans to use paper bottles for other drinks, including those sold in the United States.

Ford to go work with VW to go all electric in Europe by 2030

Ford is vowing to convert its entire passenger vehicle lineup in Europe to electric power by 2030 in just the latest sign of the seismic technological changes sweeping the auto industry.

Ford will spend $1 billion to revamp its factory in Cologne, Germany, and make it a base for production of battery powered cars using Volkswagen’s mechanical framework, said Stuart Rowley, president of Ford of Europe, during an online news conference Wednesday.

The new electric car is to reach the market in mid-2023, and could be followed by a second one there in the future.

The announcement comes just a month after U.S. rival General Motors said its entire global fleet would largely be electric by 2035. Breaking with more than a century of producing internal combustion engines, GM revamped its corporate logo in the likeness of an electric plug.

The speed of the transformation at GM and Ford underline a revolution in the auto sector, pushed by regulators seeking to limit emissions. Automakers are simultaneously moving toward digital technology such as smartphone apps and advanced driver assistance systems, with the ultimate goal of fully autonomous vehicles.

The agreement with Volkswagen announced Wednesday lets Ford take advantage of VW’s massive investment in electric cars.. The Volkswagen framework uses standard mechanical underpinnings such as the battery, suspension, wheels and axles that can be adjusted to manufacture different vehicle models. Volkswagen is already using the framework in its ID.3 compact and ID.4 sport-utility vehicle.

Retail sales surge 5.3% in January

U.S. retail sales surged 5.3% in January, far higher than analysts and economists expected, providing a needed jolt to an economy that showed signs of weakening at the end of last year.

The large jump in sales, reflected in data released Wednesday by the Commerce Department, was most likely fueled by the latest round of stimulus checks, which were mailed out at the end of last year. The $600 checks, some easing in virus outbreaks and the increased distribution of vaccines, helped send customers back into stores and restaurants last month.

Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, called the January increase «remarkable» and predicted that spending would keep growing in the coming months as the country began making progress against the coronavirus and consumer sentiment continued to improve.

«The overall strength in the numbers cannot be overstated, as every retail category was up over December,» said Mickey Chadha, a retail analyst at Moody’s Investors Service.

Industrial output continues to grow

American industry expanded in January for the fourth straight month but has not returned to pre-pandemic levels.

The Federal Reserve reported Wednesday that U.S. industrial production — which includes output factories, mines and utilities — rose 0.9% last month on top of increases of 1.3% in December, 0.9% in November and 1.1% in October. Still, industrial production was down 1.8% from January 2020, reflecting lingering economic damage from the coronavirus pandemic.

Manufacturing rose 1% even though auto production was held down by a shortage of semiconductors used in vehicles. Mining jumped 2.3% on a burst of oil and gas drilling. Utility output dropped 1.2% on declining demand for natural gas.

New York sues Amazon over worker safety during pandemic

New York is suing Amazon, claiming the company failed to provide workers with a safe environment at two warehouses in the state as COVID-19 infections surged nationwide.

The suit from New York Attorney General Letitia James landed just days after Amazon preemptively sued to block the suit over its coronavirus safety protocols and the firing of one of its employees who objected to working conditions.

In the suit filed late Tuesday, New York claims Amazon showed a «flagrant disregard for health and safety requirements» and retaliated illegally against employees who raised alarms.

James opened an investigation into Amazon in March following complaints about the lack of precautions taken to protect employees at New York facilities amid the pandemic.

— Compiled by Dave Flessner

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