New packaging continues to be a way beverage companies are innovating in the marketplace. In 2010, more than 750 new beverage packages hit store shelves, according to Mintel International’s Global New Products Database. Through February of this year, nearly 200 new beverage packages already were released, Mintel says. Environmentally friendly offerings, new shapes and feels, and aiding in drinkability are some of the leading innovations so far this year.

More eco-friendly bottles
Last month, PepsiCo, Purchase, N.Y., announced it developed a PET bottle made entirely from plant-based resources, enabling the company to manufacture a beverage container with a significantly reduced carbon footprint, it says.

PepsiCo’s “green” bottle is completely recyclable. The bottle is made from bio-based raw materials, including switch grass, pine bark and corn husks. In the future, the company expects to broaden the renewable sources used to create the “green” bottle to include orange peels, potato peels, oat hulls and other agricultural byproducts from its food business.

“This breakthrough innovation is a transformational development for PepsiCo and the beverage industry, and a direct result of our commitment to research and development,” said PepsiCo Chairwoman and Chief Executive Officer Indra Nooyi, in a statement. “PepsiCo is in a unique position, as one of the world’s largest food and beverage businesses, to ultimately source agricultural byproducts from our foods business to manufacture a more environmentally preferable bottle for our beverages business — a sustainable business model that we believe brings to life the essence of Performance with Purpose.”

Combining biological and chemical processes, PepsiCo has identified methods to create a molecular structure that is identical to petroleum-based PET, which results in a bottle that looks, feels and protects its product identically to existing PET beverage containers.

PepsiCo will pilot production of the new bottle in 2012. Upon successful completion of the pilot, the company intends to move directly to full-scale commercialization, it says.

PepsiCo’s Naked Juice brand also is transitioning to its reNEWabottle for the line’s 10-, 15.2- and 64-ounce juice and smoothies. Made from 100 percent post-consumer recycled PET, the reNEWabottle will reduce virgin plastic consumption by 7.4 million pounds a year, the company says. The reNEWabottle is clear and has a No. 1 PET code. The conversion to the reNEWabottle helps Naked Juice to reduce its overall carbon footprint, save more than 12,000 cubic meters of landfill space and reduce the bottle’s greenhouse gas emissions by 35 percent, the company says.

The Coca-Cola Co., Atlanta, introduced its PlantBottle package, a PET bottle that contains up to 30 percent plant-based material, in 2009. Last year it rolled out 2.5 billion PlantBottle packages in nine global markets, and the company intends to more than double its use this year. Coca-Cola’s intent is to use PlantBottle packaging for all of its PET plastic bottles by 2020, the company says.

Last month, Coca-Cola transitioned all of Odwalla’s single-serve bottles to PlantBottle packaging — a HDPE bottle made with a minimum of 96 percent plant-based materials and completely recyclable. The potential annual CO2 emission reduction from use of the plant-based material instead of petroleum to make Odwalla’s PlantBottle packaging is equal to a savings of almost 400,000 gallons of gas, the company says.

Danone Waters of America Inc., White Plains, N.Y., also announced the redesign of its 1.5 liter Evian bottle as part of the company’s ongoing effort to reduce its ecological impact. The new bottle, made of up to 50 percent recycled PET, remains 100 percent recyclable while using 11 percent less plastic to weigh 3.4 grams less than the previous design — down to 28.6 grams per bottle — reducing its overall carbon footprint by 32 percent, the company says. The new bottle represents an important step in Evian’s environmental policy, which targets a CO2 emissions reduction of 40 percent between 2008 and end of this year, it says.

“Evian is committed not only to the quality and purity of our water, but also to the reduction of our impact on the environment,” said Jerome Goure, vice president of marketing for Danone Waters of America, in a statement. “With the launch of our latest bottle, which is lighter and more compactable, we hope that our consumers will feel good about purchasing Evian and feel encouraged to recycle.”

Heineken USA, White Plains, N.Y., and PepsiCo are two companies that are offering new looks in cans. In February, Heineken launched a new can that provides an upscale look and tactile feel, the company says. Heineken’s new can design includes four distinct features: Heineken’s racetrack label is prominently featured on the front of the can while on the back, the contemporary vertical logo stands out; the new aluminum can offers a more sophisticated appearance; the curve of the can gives the pack a more dynamic look; and the raised ink printing technology adds a texture to the can, creating the visual impression of condensation on the outside, the company says.

“The new package features a stylish design and sensory elements that give the can a contemporary feel and refreshing appearance,” said Filip Wouters, Heineken’s vice president of marketing, in a statement. “The innovative ink technology creates a unique texture that is immediately noticeable and creates a more enjoyable drinking experience for our consumers through the sense of touch. The new design stands out better on shelf, in the cold box and on display.”

Heineken’s new can design is available in 12- and 16-ounce sizes and will be offered in a 24-ounce size this summer. Additionally, a new three-by-four suitcase format replaces the two-by-six fridge pack and makes it easier to stack and display at retail. Heineken’s support materials will include a special printing technique that creates a complementary 3-D look and communicates the “Feel the New Can. Taste the Exceptional Quality” brand message.

“A key part of brand Heineken’s success throughout time has been its drive toward innovation,” Wouters said. “We will support this new can with several million dollars of dedicated above the line support to secure our innovative leadership position in the import can segment.”

Last month, PepsiCo began its nationwide rollout of Diet Pepsi in a Skinny Can. The new can is in addition to existing packaging. The taller, slimmer can debuted at New York’s Fall 2011 Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in February. The slim can’s Fashion Week launch highlighted the stylish aspect of the new packaging, which was released in celebration of beautiful, confident women, the company says.

“Our slim, attractive new can is the perfect complement to today’s most stylish looks, and we’re excited to throw its coming-out party during the biggest celebration of innovative design in the world,” said Jill Beraud, PepsiCo’s chief marketing officer, in a statement.

Easier drinking
In March, Anheuser-Busch InBev’s Busch Light became the latest beer to use thermochromic inks. Coors beers have used similar thermochromic technology since 2007.

Cans and bottles of Busch Light will carry an “Ice Cold Easy Indicator” that turns blue at temperatures between 46 to 48 degrees Fahrenheit. The products are available in all domestic markets. Busch Light aluminum cans carrying the new indicators are in 10-, 12-, 16- and 24-ounce sizes. The cans will turn blue at 46.4 degrees Fahrenheit, while bottle labels will sport the thermochromic inks on the 12-, 22- and 40-ounce bottles with temperature activation occurring at 48.2 degrees Fahrenheit.

Along with consuming a beverage at the ideal temperature, ease of opening a beverage also plays a role in drinkability. This year, Summit Brewing Co., St. Paul, Minn., converted its bottle closure from a twist-off cap to a pry-off cap style.

“It’s time to give our customers what they really want — an easier way to get inside our bottles,” said Mark Strutrud, chief executive officer and founder of Summit Brewing, in a statement. “We’ve received an increasing number of comments over the last year or so about how difficult it is to twist off our bottle caps, and we’re not joking when we say we’ve felt our customers’ pain.”

With the change come improve-ments to the Summit beer drinking experience as well, the company says. Pry-off caps offer a much tighter seal to prevent oxygen from entering the bottle, which can compromise the freshness quality, flavor and body of the beer, the brewer says. The bottle mouth also is much smoother and thicker compared to the twist-off finish, it adds. BI

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Packaging News: Alcohol, soft drink and tea companies release new designs