Anytime, Anywhere: Self-heating Containers

June 1, 2004
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Anytime, Anywhere: Self-heating Containers

In a society where everyone appears to be in a rush, global packaging company Sonoco, and the California limited liability company OnTech, have reached an agreement that will provide those on-the-go people with self-heating containers for hot beverages. For years, creators Dan Gibbs, James Berntsen, Jim Scudder and their team have been designing this innovative technology. James Berntsen notes that, “My partners and I noticed that self-heating technology has been around in Europe and Japan for many years, but the products had several issues surrounding them. We wanted to develop a container that was safe, reliable, easy-to-use and that could be manufactured in large quantities, which would make it affordable to customers. We saw it as a great opportunity to revolutionize how individuals eat and drink hot food.”
After the product was complete, OnTech partnered with Sonoco to manufacture the product and Lakeside Foods to do the filling and retorting. Charles Sullivan Jr., senior vice president at Sonoco notes that, “The partnership with OnTech is a natural fit for both companies. We believe that with OnTech, we will be able to bring this technology to market and satisfy the growing demand for convenient, ready-to-eat foods and beverages.
The self-heating container looks like an ordinary can. However, inside is ground-breaking technology. The can contains an outside cylinder that is combined with an inside cone to form a can within a can. The cone is then filled with crushed limestone. Additionally, a plastic puck filled with water and a tamper-proof foil is contained inside the cone. Finally, the can is filled with a beverage and sealed. When those on-the-go, busy consumers decide that they would like to enjoy their coffee or soup, they simply remove the foil and push the button down. The pressure releases the water into the limestone, and the combination of both elements creates a natural thermal reaction. The can begins to heat up, and after six minutes, the beverage is ready to be enjoyed. However, the individual does not have to worry about drinking their coffee right away; the self-heating container remains hot for at least 30 minutes and warm for an hour.
Sullivan says, “The containers will be used for packaging coffee, teas, cocoas, soups, baby formula, and other foods and beverages for anytime, anywhere consumption.”
James Berntsen also notes that, “We have been doing a lot of market research on the product. We have worked with customers to do tests, such as the national AC Nielsen Bases Test, which show that there is a huge market for this kind of product.” In fact, OnTech has worked with food and beverage manufacturers to sell and market the product to the public. Companies, such as Wolfgang Puck and a large coffee company, will use the technology with their products. The final results can be seen on the shelf of grocery stores in the fourth quarter of this year for approximately $2.
In the future, Berntsen believes the technology will be used for products such as alcohol beverages, baby formula and even full meals. With Americans constantly running around and trying to pencil in eating or drinking into their schedules, it’s a safe bet that OnTech and Sonoco’s agreement could help alleviate some stresses of busy lives and hectic schedules
Coca-Cola launches unexpected surprises for summer
Summer is a time of excitement, possibilities and adventure. With that in mind, Coca-Cola, Atlanta, Ga., announced the launch of its “unexpected” summer campaign. The campaign features 120 Coke cans distributed around the United States that will feature a Global Positioning System and a cell phone. The lucky winners who find the can will be awarded a Chevy Equinox SUV. However, finding the winning can is only the first step to this exciting and innovative campaign. The true adventure begins when the consumer activates the cell phone. According to Doug Rollins, brand manager, Coca-Cola Trademark, “We have a dedicated search team of five different teams located all around the country. When a person activates the cell phone, we will mobilize the closest search team, so they can find the consumer.”
From that point on, consumers have to keep the winning can on them at all times, and the search team will use the GPS to locate the consumer.
According to Rollins, this innovative idea was first used with Coke cans in Australia. “When we saw how much of a success the promotion was in Australia, we knew that we could use it in the States,” he says.
The technology has changed a bit from the first campaign. In Australia, the cell phone was just dropped into the cans while in America, the technology was actually integrated into the cans. Rollins notes that, “The whole theory behind the promotion is not the prize itself but the way we find the winners. We enter consumers’ lives and bring them unexpected excitement and adventure like they may have never had before.”
Besides the technology used in the promotion, the packaging is also unique. Case carriers feature globe graphic to communicate the vastness of the promotion, and when stacked together on display, the cases are designed to create one large globe image. Graphics on the winning cans themselves also are distinct in that they feature three icons on the side of the can and a power button to activate the cell phone.
From concept to execution, the innovative campaign took approximately 10 to 11 months to develop, but the wait was worthwhile. As Rollins notes, “This is our biggest program of the year. We are on the forefront of technology, and hence, have very high hopes for business results.”
With TV, radio and Internet to promote this campaign, Rollins hopes the promotion shifts how people see Coca-Cola. Available until July 12th or while supplies last, cans can be found in specially marked 12-, 18-, 20-, or 24-packs in varieties of Coca-Cola Classic, Caffeine-Free, Cherry Coke and Vanilla Coke
What’s on the outside does matter
The bottled water industry is a more than $35 billion global market, and with the increasing sales, more and more people are trying to find ways to differentiate their water. MeadWestVaco, Atlanta, Ga., has also gotten in on the competition. Glynn Grisham of MeadWestVaco believes that, “packaging really makes or breaks a product,” and MeadWestVaco has started to use paperboard packaging that allows take-home convenience and makes it easier for companies to market themselves on the package itself. Bottlers such as Absopure have worked with MeadWestVaco to create FridgeMaster packs for water, proving that in the end, what’s on the outside does after all matter.
Another anniversary
Whether it is a 50-year wedding anniversary or an anniversary of a first kiss, there’s a reason to celebrate everything. Bridgeport Brewing and Hillebrand Wines are commemorating their success with anniversaries this year.
Bridgeport Brewing, Portland, Ore., recently launched its new campaign to honor its anniversary. In order to do justice to the tradition and history of the brewing company, a 20th anniversary beer, Ropewalk Amber Ale., was designed, along with packaging that features a stage highlighted by red curtains, spotlights and a tightrope. The rope symbolizes the Bridgeport building’s roots as a rope factory. A tightrope walker can also be seen on the front, back, bottle crown and neck labels. The new label will appear on bottles as well as six-pack and box containers. Ropewalk Amber Ale is available in stores, restaurants and bars nationwide.
Similarly, after 25 years of excellence, Hillebrand Wines, Toronto, honors its quality and tradition with the launch of its new packaging, featured on Hillebrand Harvest, Vineyard Select, Collector’s Choice and showcase product lines. The new labels are designed to create unified brand identity. All label designs showcase an illustration of the winery and a seal stating “established since,” in order to communicate the heritage of the winery. However, on the Collector’s Choice, a premium sub-blend, the label features “Group of Seven” paintings, with a different painting for red and white wines. Similarly, the winemaker’s personal blend, Showcase, uses textured stock, an embossed “H” and a torn edge to acknowledge the hand-made craftsmanship of the wine. Hillebrand hopes these new labels will continue to attract more consumers for the next 25 years.
Famed designer to develop Simi Winery’s new packaging
With the approaching release of Simi Winery’s 2000 Vintage Simi Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, the Healdsburg, Calif., company decided it would also be the perfect time to unveil its new packaging design for the wine. Designed by Tony Auston, the package features a tapered glass bottle topped with a crimson foil. The label is highlighted by textured paper with a bronze border and a sketch of the winery’s stone cellars. According to Simi’s spokeswoman, Dianne Maher, the purpose of the design is to unify and reinforce the entire product line image. Maher believes the packaging will only increase the quality of the wine. The new wine and packaging is available nationwide for a suggested retail price of $60.
Spider-Man and Dr Pepper team up
For Dr Pepper lovers, what could be better than enjoying a cool, refreshing Dr Pepper on a hot summer day? How about winning a Dodge Viper, Segway Human Transporter or Vespa Motor Scooter while enjoying that Dr Pepper? Dr Pepper, Plano, Texas, has teamed up with Columbia pictures for the second Spider-Man movie. Exclusive Dr Pepper cans and bottles will feature two unique packaging strategies that alert consumers of their win. The first packaging innovation is a talking can. When the top is popped, consumers may hear that they have just won a brand new car. For the second packaging strategy, consumers will look through an empty Dr Pepper can using special “Spidey Eyes,” to see if they have won. Chris Creedon, spokesperson for Dr Pepper, believes this partnership will allow Dr Pepper to reach important demographics. The promotion lasts until July 31st and Dr Pepper cans are available at Kroger, Safeway, Target and many more stores.
A Real Space Saver
Saving space was a main concern when Graham Packaging, York, Penn., designed its new, rectangular 64-ounce juice bottle. The hot-fill PET bottle was produced for Old Orchard Brands, Sparta, Mich., and became a hit with consumers who liked it because it is easy to hold and saves space on refrigerator shelves. Retailers also benefit because it saves 20 percent of space on shelves, and juice packers can ship more bottles to retailers.

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