Beverage Industry

Container Enthusiasm

April 1, 2007


Container Enthusiasm

By JENNIFER ZEGLER

New package designs build hype for beverages

Whether a beverage brand is new or a category staple, a packaging makeover can intrigue and entice consumers. Packaging builds excitement that can attract new consumers, a different demographic or help the company’s environmentally friendly policy. This year, brands opted for redesigns and new materials to attract the eye — and wallet.
Increasing raw material prices continue to affect the packaging industry. The Packaging Industry – U.S. report from Euromonitor International cited increasing prices for oil, natural gas and aluminum as a concern for the global packaging industry. In 2005, aluminum prices reached a 17-year high, which partially was due to rising global demand, the company states.
Prices of oil, a key ingredient in most plastic resins, continued to escalate. Euromonitor suggests reasons for the hike in prices of oil and natural gas, which is used in glass-making, include supply disruptions, political concerns and ceaseless global demand, partially due to the fast-growing Chinese economy.
 Despite escalating costs, packaging manufacturers are less likely to pass on the increases to consumers since higher product prices could restrict demand, the report states. Euromonitor also says high raw material prices can lead to reduced market volume share for certain packaging types, particularly PET. Meanwhile, PET manufacturers are creating smaller sizes as part of a general decrease in demand for carbonated soft drinks, as consumers switch to better-for-you beverage options. In addition, demand for aluminum cans has dipped due to newly health-conscious consumers who are trading their CSDs and beer for perceived healthier beverages.  
Overall, the package design offers a unique proposition — not only to contain the product but invite consumers in an eye-catching and economical way, suggests Chris Ramsey, innovation manager for Crown Holdings’ Innovation Center, Wantage, England.
“Simply put, the principal challenge package designers face is finding a way to satisfy potentially opposing objectives to achieve an optimum design,” Ramsey said in a statement. “To be successful, designers need to create packaging effect in retail marketing as well as meeting the bottom-line economic demands.”
Crown Holdings specializes in metal packaging and emphasizes its versatility. He suggests that metal can be shaped, colored, textured and scented for increased sensory appeal. He sites Heineken’s Keg Can as an effective shape to reinforce the product’s position. Crown Holdings also offers Color Change inks that allow designs to change depending on lighting or temperatures.
Also available are polymer coated steel cans that have a holographic effect that creates a sense of motion while on the shelf. Crown Holdings also can add texture to metal and metal hybrid packages for a velvet-like feel or orange peel grain. Additionally, the company has the ability to add scent to a metal/plastic hybrid package, which can tempt consumers before a product is even opened. FDA-approved, food-grade flavors can be added to the structure of hybrid packages to deliver signature aromas that build a memorable relationship between the consumer and the brand, Ramsey described.
Eyes on aluminum
Despite Euromonitor’s report that CSD sales caused a drop in aluminum’s popularity, manufacturers continue to innovate with aluminum to reinvigorate the category. Silgan Containers, Woodland Hills, Calif., introduced a line of colored aluminum cans to grab attention. The line is available in two-piece aluminum cans sporting a variety of translucent color choices. Silgan adds the pigment, which also can be applied to can ends and tabs, to the coating of the container before it is cut.
While some companies change the can’s color, one global beverage brand has opted for changed graphics. At the beginning of the year, Pepsi announced a plan for rotating graphics to make its Pepsi-Cola cans command attention. The company’s plan includes new graphics for the Pepsi cans every few weeks to attract young trendsetting demographic.
The rotating packages maintain the Pepsi globe logo, but alter graphics to reflect themes important to teens and young adults, such as sports, music, fashion and cars. The blue-hued designs will change every few weeks on Pepsi-Cola cans, bottles and cups around the world. In addition, the company extended the customizability with contests for consumers to design billboards and NASCAR paint schemes — all with individuality and customization at their core.
“We’ve learned that young people embrace change and seek discovery, connectedness, personalization and multiculturalism,” said Ron Coughlin, chief marketing officer of PepsiCo Inter-national, in a statement. “We believe the restyle touches on all these trends. Now our consumers will have a different experience each time they buy a Pepsi.”
Another developing trend in aluminum is bottles. CCL Container, Hermitage, Pa., is part of the innovation, creating new colors, shapes and designs for beverages looking for differentiation. According to the company, its aluminum bottles are 100 percent recyclable and unbreakable. It also reports that independent testing has shown the bottles cool faster and stay colder longer than any other packaging material.
The company’s BodyShapes line of aluminum bottles offers versatility with full-body shaping for top-to-bottom product differentiation. One such product, Fever energy drink, chose to launch its beverage in a bright red BodyShapes bottle from CCL Container. The aluminum bottle’s elongated shape, eye-catching color and convenient screw cap help it stand out.
Also available from CCL is its Aluminex line of aluminum bottles with food-grade internal and external linings to protect a product’s taste and integrity. The line also can be full-body shaped, which was applied by Pittsburgh Brewing Co.’s Augustiner beer. The beer used CCL’s Tailgater design for its launch. The company offers 12-ounce and 16-ounce sizes in the Tailgater design in addition to its classic longneck Roadhouse option.
Additionally, the company got creative with the exterior of its aluminum bottles in Latin America. CCL created a 16-ounce aluminum bottle featuring UV graphics for a popular Latin American beer brand. Presidente, from Dominican National Brewing Co., features “U-Glow” graphics, which were intended to attract young adults.
Plethora of PET
PET bottles are on track to surpass metal beverage cans as the most popular packaging option for soft drinks by 2010, according to Euromonitor data. With its growing popularity, PET manufacturers are anticipating the future as well.
Eastman Chemical Co., Kingsport, Tenn., introduced three new PET resins it claims have better bottle clarity as well as reduced production costs. The new Vorcalor CB11E and 9921W resins offer improved processing in preform and bottle production, which the company says can lower energy use, and therefore, costs. Eastman says Vorcalor’s reheat rate allows for high-speed blowing at a low cost to produce clear, glossy bottles that are available for carbonated drinks, bottled water and juices.
Also available from the company are Aqualor resins that are reheat-enabled PET for non carbonated water bottles. The company says this range combines preform and bottle processing with bottle clarity, gloss and imprint-definition. In October, the company also announced its ParaStar resins use less energy than ordinary PET resins because they eliminate the solid-stating step. ParaStar resins offer enhanced bottle clarity, product integrity, production and supply chain efficiencies in addition to environmental benefits, Eastman says.
Innovations in PET from Amcor have led two brands to choose its Powerflex bottles for new introductions. Now part of Coca-Cola’s portfolio, Fuze Beverages rolled out eight of its top-selling flavors in 500-ml. Powerflex bottles. The new Fuze PET bottles replicate the ergonomic shape of the brand’s 18-ounce glass packages. Amcor’s Powerflex bottle design for Fuze is panel-less, but applicable in hot-fill applications. Fuze says the new PET bottles will help Fuze initiate vending operations in addition to breaking into other markets that were previously glass prohibitive.
A special size was created for O Beverages, Cambridge, Mass., which chose a 17-ounce Powerflex size for its O Infused Waters. Its design expands the size options available from Amcor and features etching on the shoulder and base of the bottle. O’s bottle also allows for hot-fill, but without the panels traditionally associated with PET.
Expanding from PET options, Dow Chemical has commercialized a new polypropylene (PP) material for bottle applications. The company says the new PP bottles have the clarity, flexibility and strength previously attributed to PET. The material is said to be strong and flexible enough for bulk-sized fruit juice bottles, among other applications.
Sustained action
In addition to new packaging options, designs and materials the newest issue for packaging manufacturers are environmental and sustainable concerns. Many manufacturers have shared their sustainability plans, partially brought on by the introduction of Wal-Mart’s packaging and sustainability scorecard. Both Coke and Pepsi have come forward with their respective plans to reduce environmental impact.
According to a company release, the Coca-Cola Co. follows its “3E” plan, which stands for Efficiency, Effectiveness and Eco-Innovation, for its package design operations. Coca-Cola announced it has reduced raw material usage for its packaging by as much as 57 percent. It shared that approximately 85 percent of its global package is made from recyclable PET, plastic, aluminum, glass and steel. An additional 12 percent of its packaging is made up of bulk-package systems that include refillable steel tanks and bag-in-box containers, which are made of a recyclable cardboard exterior and lightweight plastic interior.
PepsiCo also laid out a 10 step “Sustainability Vision” that spans its diverse beverage and food portfolios. The company currently is using 10 percent post-consumer recycled materials in its bottles and has seen a significant reduction in materials used for its 500-ml. bottles of Aquafina bottled water. At a meeting of the Sustainable Packaging Coalition, Bryan Lembke, director of package sustainability for Quaker, Tropicana and Gatorade, discussed the company’s “Sustainability Triple Bottom Line” that includes economic, environmental and social implications.
“PepsiCo’s vision is to be a global leader in design of packaging systems that are environmentally responsible throughout their entire lifecycle,” he said.
One such renewable packaging material is glass, which Owens-Illinois, Perrysburg, Ohio, emphasizes as a viable option. A company newsletter promotes glass as the only packaging material that has GRAS status by the FDA, protects product integrity and when recycled can be made into a new container and back on store shelves in as few as 30 days.
Trend spotting
Beverage Industry’s sister publication, Brand Packaging, looked into the emerging trends in packaged goods for 2007. The magazine came up with a list of seven trends shaping packaging this year:
• Simplicity. Companies are taking a cue from hip, nearly blank packages (Pom Tea, for example) and ingraining simplicity into their business plans.
• Second moment of truth emerges. The first moment of truth — the nearly 20 seconds a consumer spends in front of the shelf making a product decision — is still very important, but now consumers are influenced by the second moment of truth that comes with actual product usage. Brand Packaging says, “Consumers are simply demanding more and putting up with less than they ever have.”
• Beware of consumer backlash. Today’s consumers are quick to take product criticisms and spread them via Internet forums.
• Safety, security under scrutiny. It used to be that food safety and security measures were hidden from consumers. Nowadays, shoppers want to know the origin of the product and be able to track its manufacturing.
• Shopping with conscience. Environmentally friendly packages are just the beginning in the era of the ethical shopper who has high moral standards for the manufacturing process and packaging of their products.
• A feminine touch. Statistics show that females make more than 80 percent of the buying decisions in all homes. The same percentage of females feel marketers don’t understand them.
•  Information on demand. The Internet has created a culture that is used to receiving instantaneous information on demand. This has translated to demand for all product questions to be stated on packages — without too much clutter.
Evian ‘pops’
Evian bottled water will introduce limited-edition bottles designed by a noted pop artist. The Pop Art style, made famous by artist Andy Warhol, features bright colors and simplistic design. Brazilian-born Romero Britto designed the labels for the limited-edition bottles, which will be available in foodservice outlets in the fall of 2007. The Evian Britto, as its nicknamed, may be found at select restaurants, clubs and hotels that carry the water brand.
Anniversary labels
Stevens Point Brewery rolled out commemorative labels from various eras in the company’s 150-year history. Throughout this year, 12-ounce bottles of Point Special Lager will bear one of five historic labels from the late 1800s, 1920s, 1950s, 1960s and 1980s. The labels are recreations of period labels from the brewery’s archive. The special sesquicentennial labels will be available in six-packs of longneck bottles, 12-pack and case packages.
New specs for Spaten
Imported German beer brand Spaten has introduced new 12-ounce bottle designs for its lineup. Imported by Spaten North America Inc., Little Neck, N.Y., the 12-ounce bottles will be available in Spaten Premium, Optimator, Franziskaner Weissbier and Oktoberfest varieties. The new bottles are described as sleek, slender and more comfortable to hold, the company says. Changes also were made to the label and six- and 12-packs for increased visual appeal.
Northeast-inspired labels
Columbia Winery celebrated its 45-year history with a new look. The Woodinville, Wash.-based company redesigned the labels on its Columbia Valley and Vineyard Designate wines. Columbia Valley series of wines now features oval shaped labels with an image of the winery’s distinctive iconic cupola, on the top of which is a weathervane pointing northwest. A rectangular label was chosen for the Vineyard Designate tiers with revamped lettering for a traditional and upscale look. The new label will be featured on wines from the company’s Red Willow, Otis and Wyckoff vineyards.
Single-serve juices
Welch’s rolled out new 14-ounce single-serve bottles for its 100 percent juices. The proprietary designed bottles are panel-less with full shrink-label and are shelf stable. Available in Concord Grape, White Grape, White Grape Peach, White Grape Mango Passion Fruit, Orange Fusion and Fruit Punch, the new packaging is ready for the cold case. It is designed for convenience stores as well as mass merchants, club stores, drug retailers and vending operations.