The company said today it has signed a contract for cap production in Russia with the Europlast Association, a leading local manufacturer. Closures that were previously imported to Russia will now be produced locally. More and more European processors have been moving operations eastwards in a bid to capitalise on the growing markets in Russia and surrounding countries. Igor Akimov, Tetra Pak's managing director in Russia, said the move was made due to increasing demand from international and local beverage and food manufactuers. "By localising production of closures we will significantly simplify logistics, reduce the lead time and respond to our customers' requests in less time and with higher flexibility," he said. "This is yet another step in our ongoing efforts to respond quickly to changing market requirements and customer needs." He said that consumers have a growing preference for packages with closures because of the added convenience in opening. A year ago one out of six Tetra Pak packages in Russia was fitted with a closure. Since then this number has doubled. "Now every third package, delivered by Tetra Pak in Russia, comes with a cap," he said. The Europlast Association, a leading producer of polymer caps and polyethylene terephthalate (PET) preforms in Russia and the affiliated states, operates ten plants. These are located in Russia, Kazakhstan, Ukraine and Moldova. Cap production is currently starting up, and Tetra Pak plans to have 15 production lines to installed by the end of this year. Tetra Pak Russia is also working on localising production of its packaging material. As previously announced, this year a new Tetra Pak converting factory will start operating in Lobnya, in the Moscow region. This will be the largest converting factory in Russia and the affiliated states. At the first stage the factory will supply four billion packages annually to the largest Russian food producers. Tetra Pak Russia has regional offices in St. Petersburg, Krasnoyarsk, Krasnodar and Yekaterinburg. Currently, Tetra Pak Russia manufactures packaging material at two converting factories in Timashevsk, near Krasnodar, and in Korolev, which is near Moscow. The company's total 2006 sales volume in Russia was about 6.1 billion packages. Last year Tetra Pak sold about 130 billion packages worldwide. Oerall sales volume was about €8.5bn.