When we began bottling operations in 1899, the only soft drink package was the returnable bottle. The popularity of this package continued until the 1960s, when the first aluminum cans appeared. Over the past 35 years, consumer preference for cans, plastic bottles, and non-returnable glass bottles has increased, and the market for returnable bottles is now almost non-existent. We ended production of returnable bottles in Rock Island in March 1995.
Our other packages, including cans, PET plastic 1 liter, 2 liter, 20 ounce, and 32 ounce bottles, 16 ounce NR glass bottles, premix, and BIB postmix are produced by our canning co-op, WisPak, Inc., which is licensed by the Pepsi-Cola Company to produce its brands. Because production facilities are very costly and often take years to become profitable for small bottlers like us, a group of independent Midwest bottlers formed WisPak, a cooperative venture, in 1969. Our company joined WisPak in 1971, becoming one of its 34 shareholders. By pooling our resources with other bottlers, we are able to produce quality goods much more efficiently than we could on our own (they can produce up to 2200 cans per minute on one line!), as well as insure a steady supply of products.
Today there are 34 WisPak shareholders representing 52 franchises throughout Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, Missouri, Michigan, Kansas, Nebraska, North and South Dakota, and Mississippi. WisPak headquarters are in Watertown, WI, and there are also plants in Mankato, MN, Norfork, NE, Lincoln, NE, Quincy, IL, LaCrosse, WI, and Sioux City, IA, which all operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week to meet the demand throughout the system.
Our main brands today include Pepsi, Diet Pepsi, and Mountain Dew, as well as Caffeine-Free and Diet Pepsi, Regular and Diet Wild Cherry Pepsi, Caffeine-Free and Diet Mountain Dew, Mug Root Beer, Pepsi Max, Sierra Mist, Aquafina water, Lipton Brisk Iced Teas, Frappucino, Lipton Iced Teas, Ocean Spray juices, and Gatorade sports drinks.