It'll never fly - Tetra Pak

Beyond cracking open a lobster claw and pulling out the succulent flesh, opening a Tetra Pak gable-topped milk carton is one of the more challenging culinary tasks. The tug and rip of soggy cardboard - and resulting milky chin - will be familiar to the nation's Crunchy Nutters.

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Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

Yet the Swedish packaging giant - part of the Tetra Laval group - announced booming sales of almost £5.8bn for 2006, and it's proving to be a big hit in growing markets like eastern Europe, the Middle East and China. Inspired by his experience of American self-service stores, Dr Ruben Rausing founded Sweden's first specialist packaging factory in 1929, the year of the Wall Street Crash. His technique for coating paper with plastic led in 1952 to the birth of the tetrahedron-shaped Tetra Pak, the world's first airtight, hygienic paper packaging. Since then the Tetra Pak range has expanded, with 10 different models now available. The original cartons are largely extinct in these parts now, replaced by screwtops, leaving developing markets to risk a regular dairy soaking. His success made Rausing Sweden's richest man before he died and control of his empire fell to his son, Hans. The company delivered 129.7 billion packages in 2006 and Hans and his family - UK residents - sit at number six in the Sunday Times Rich List with an estimated £5.4bn. Not bad for a firm founded as the world's financial systems imploded. Of course, you know what Rausing Snr was thinking back then: no use crying over spilt milk.

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