Packaging Trends of the Future

November 1, 2004
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Packaging Trends of the Future

Package innovation is one of the most difficult, but most visible, investments beverage companies can make. Of the 988 product introductions measured this year by Marketing Intelligence Service’s Productscan, only 16 offered packaging innovation claims. But there have been stand-outs in the industry that are leading the future of beverage packaging.
One of the newest packages is the self-heating can for WP Beverage Partners’ Wolfgang Puck Gourmet Lattes. Last year, the company introduced ready to drink lattes, meant to be served cold, and added to the line up this fall with a package that allows them to be served hot by heating the product to 140° F in six to eight minutes.
Using OnTech technology, the package is essentially a can within a can. The inner can contains crushed limestone and the outer can contains the beverage. The package also has a sealed disc containing water that, when a consumer pushes a button on the bottom of the can, is released into the limestone, causing a thermal reaction that heats the beverage.
Thermal ink used on the package label changes color when the product is heated to the right temperature, and the glue that holds a tamper-proof overcap on the top of the can melts so the top can be turned and the pull-tab accessed.
The products are available in four flavors — Rich Espresso, French Vanilla, Rich Mocha and Rich Caramel, and will retail for $2.29 to $2.79 for single cans, or $8.99 per four-pack.
On the other side of the thermostat, aluminum bottles, such as those created by CCL Container and Exal C2C, continue to gain attention in the beverage business, not only for their unique appearance, but for their ability to chill a beverage faster and keep it cold longer. Absolut Spirits Co. used an aluminum bottle for its Grapefruit and Cranberyraz-flavored Danzka Vodka rollout, and says the bottle chills 50 minutes faster than glass packaging.
According to Absolut, “From wines to beer to spirits, manufacturers are introducing cool new designs that combine clever technology and a growing trend toward functional packaging that helps consumers keep spirits cold.”
New looks for wine
Wine is perhaps the fastest-changing packaging category, with many wineries, even those on the high end, exposing consumes to screw-caps, cans, boxes and even PET. Wineries Down Under seem to be more adventuresome with their packaging, and many of the innovations, including wine in a can, are making their way from Australia to the United States. Woomba Wines of Australia last year rolled out Aussie Wines in four-packs of 250-ml. cans in Chardonnay, Cabernet Shiraz and Sweet White Blend varieties. The company says the packages were developed with an inner lining to prevent tainted flavor, and are primarily targeted toward restaurants and bars with by-the-glass wine programs.
Also in Australia, Amcor Ltd. recently announced it would invest $8 million to install metal screw-cap equipment for the wine industry at its Thomastown, Victoria, facility. The company says it will more than double the production of wine screw-caps, which are gaining acceptance for their ability to eliminate the flavors imparted by cork closures. Amcor says screw-caps now represent 20 percent of wine industry packaging in Australia and nearly 50 percent in New Zealand.
The concept of wine in a box has almost put its bargain-brand image behind it, and with new shapes and sizes has made inroads in the U.S. market. In addition to the traditional 5-liter size, Scholle Corp., Northlake, Ill., has created bag-in-box wine packaging in 3-liter and even 1.5-liter sizes that are promoted for their portability and stability after opening.
Constellation Brands took boxed wine packaging even smaller this year and introduced Almaden Red Sangria in a 500-ml. aseptic carton with a pull-tab. The company said the product was for on-the-go consumers and was perfect for picnics and other away-from-home activities.
Fetzer Vineyards took its newest packaging cue from the beer industry, and in January will begin shipping Valley Oaks Merlot, Chardonnay and White Zinfandel in 187-ml. SurShot multi-layer, injection-molded PET, created by Owens-Illinois. The wines will be distributed through airlines, poolside venues such as resorts and hotels, sports arenas and other outlets where glass is prohibited.
Fetzer says oxygen barriers in the bottles, which feature screw caps, allow the company to keep the wines preservative-free. “It’s a consumer-driven first,” says Fetzer marketing executive Lou Willsea. “Retailers have told us consumers are looking for ways to simplify life while obtaining high quality. For picnics, ball-game tailgaters, golf courses, poolside and more, Fetzer’s PET package makes it easy to relax, refresh and renew.”
Jolt of energy
Jolt Cola, perhaps the original energy drink, was recently recharged with a new resealable “Battery Bottle,” created by Rexam Beverage Can Americas. The 23.5-ounce package is the first resealable aluminum container of its size, according to brand owner Wet Planet Beverages, Rochester, N.Y. In addition to the new can top, the package incorporates thermo-chromatic ink that changes color when the beverage is chilled. As the cola is consumed, the ink returns to its original color, showing the consumer how much liquid is left in the can.
Initial reaction to the can has been positive says Wet Planet President and Chief Executive Officer CJ Rapp, who reports the company has “never had a better reaction” to a product. BI

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