Grippable, Gulpable and Clearly Unique 

by Joanna Cosgrove
SaddleSprings’ hourglass-shaped pouch proves to be a fit for flavored water beverages
Fruit Rapids is a new line of naturally flavored spring water from American Beverage Corp., Verona, Pa. The no-calorie, no-carb beverage bucks the carbonated soft drink trend with the addition of calcium and vitamins B, C and E, as well as its unique package presentation — an hourglass-shaped pouch that’s portable, grippable and gulpable.  
The GoPouch, manufactured by SaddleSprings Beverage Co., Torrance, Calif., is constructed of clear, multi-layer EVOH, a high-barrier material that allows a see-through view of the beverage inside. The ergonomic shape fits comfortably in the hand and is visually distinctive alongside traditional square-sided pouches currently on the shelf.
The beverage pouch industry is expected to reach global units of 24 billion in 2006, more than double 2002 volumes, making it the fastest-growing form of packaging. But for years, intellectual property and trademarks have prevented most beverage companies from entering this burgeoning market.
SaddleSprings, the largest independent provider of stand-up beverage pouches in North America, originally conceived of the GoPouch in an effort to provide a generic pouch for beverage companies that endeavored to replicate the success of Capri Sun, according to Ron Berman, Saddle-Springs’ president and chief executive officer. “Capri Sun has been the dominant player in the pouch business, however their traditional straight-sided pouch is highly protected intellectual property,” he explains. “Starting in the mid-’90s, contract manufacturers were able to start shaping the pouch, which got around the protected intellectual property issues.”
Although SaddleSprings’ core beverages are fruit juice brands such as Mott’s, Hawaiian Punch, Hansen’s and Apple & Eve, Berman says pouches are an ideal vehicle for water beverages as well. “Pouches are less expensive than the customary bottle with a cap, and the mass of the pouch is considerably less for recycling purposes,” he says.
Fulfilling the need for innovation
Berman says many companies have experienced firsthand the benefits of pouches, which include lower unit cost per pouch as compared to drink box packaging, lower shipping costs, convenience, and — most importantly — increased consumer demand.
Tim Barr, director of marketing at American Beverage, says the GoPouch fulfills a variety of objectives as the package of choice for Fruit Rapids. “Primarily, we chose it because it is the preferred format for today’s kids,” he says. “It has soft sides to make it easy to handle for small kids as well as travel in lunch bags. The 6.75-ounce is just the right size for 6 to 12 year olds. The graphics also really pop on this material.”
Fruit Rapids is packed in eight-pouch cartons and comes in three flavors: Tropical Punch, Strawberry-Kiwi and Berry Blend. While the line began appearing on store shelves this summer, at press time, it was being selectively tested throughout the United States in key markets in preparation for heavy promotion during the all-important back-to-school marketing period.
“Sales of kid’s fruit drinks in pouches at retail are nearly $1 billion,” Barr says. “The clear plastic [packaging] helps position our product as a water beverage and not a fruit drink. SaddleSprings also had the patented size and shape that would be perfect for our needs as well as the expertise to help us enter this packing category.”
Another beverage company, Aqua Vie Beverage of Ketchum, Idaho, is currently in the developmental phases of using SaddleSprings’ see-through pouch for its new flavored and pure spring water. “The new clear pouch technology offers many advantages over bottles,” says Aqua Vie’s Tom Gillespie, president and chief executive officer. “It’s compact, fits easily into lunchboxes and small hands, has a drinking straw attached and is more environmentally friendly.”
Berman says SaddleSprings is currently in negotiations with several other water companies that have also expressed interest in this type of packaging.
“We offer a solution for any size manufacturer,” Berman states. “Our customers are welcome to employ Olmarc Packaging in Chicago, our co-packing facility, for filling and other production purposes. Or if a company is interested in filling the pouch in its own facility, SaddleSprings could install the specialized equipment to meet their production needs.
“This is a very complicated business, and having a knowledgeable integrator and manufacturer is essential into the overall success of a project like this,” he says. “Economies of scale are critical in this business. A company has the advantage of working with us, they’re going to tap into a pool of core business and enjoy those economies of scale.”
Berman says SaddleSprings plans to take the pouch into bigger and better directions in 2005, with the introduction of a pouch featuring a removable, screw-top fitment. The fitment would be capable of accommodating a pouch ranging in size from 325 ml. up to 500 ml., enabling it to be more than just a single-serve delivery vehicle, putting it on par with a bottle, but boasting the unique flexibility of a pouch. BI