Next Generation Caps & Closures
Beverage manufacturers look for functionality and greater shelf appeal
A new breed of beverage caps is hitting the market and they fall outside the realm of traditional twist-off closures. Not only do they preserve freshness and prevent spilling, but some offer a distinctive point of difference with unique functionality, while others are a twist on the usual that differentiate the total beverage package on shelf.
Dubbed a “Seriously Twisted Technology,” the Infusion Cap from U.S. Beverage, Newnan, Ga., features a reservoir that can be filled with any liquid or powder. When the cap is twisted, the contents are released into the bottled beverage below the cap. The cap has been in the R&D pipeline for three years and holds a variety of patents. U.S. Beverage’s Rob Hobson, vice president, said it was originally developed to help the company demo a line of kids drinks called Seriously Twisted, with the idea that kids would embrace the line’s interactive packaging.
The caps are engineered to hold 3 ml. to 7 ml. of liquid or powder and can fit nearly all existing water bottles. And because the concentrate is separate from the beverage until time of consumption, the cap allows for a shelf life of 12 to 18 months.
Hobson says U.S Beverage can contract fill the caps and pack the finished product or supply the filled caps to bottlers. “One segment that we saw the biggest interest was in the bottled water industry,” Hobson says. “Bottlers that want to add flavors, minerals and vitamins to their line but don’t want to invest millions in the equipment.”
Design accent
Caps can provide the crowning touch to a package design. Jolt Cola was re-launched by its parent company Wet Planet this past February in a resealable 23.5 ounce aluminum Battery Bottle shaped container.  
The new Jolt bottle, manufactured by Rexam Beverage Can North America, features a power gauge printed in thermo- chromic ink that changes colors when the beverage is chilled. As the beverage is consumed, the ink returns to its original color showing the consumer how much liquid is left. The resealable twist-off cap stylishly preserves product freshness.
The Jolt Battery Bottle combines Rexam’s Monster can body with Cap Can closure technology. The can is transformed into a re-sealable container by seaming on a Cap Can end and closure, a patented process developed by  Dayton Systems Group Inc. (DSG), Miamisburg, Ohio. Once complete, the Jolt Battery Bottles are shipped to Pri-Pak, an independent beverage co-packer located in Lawrenceburg, Ind., where they are filled with the Jolt product. Rexam worked in partnership with Pri-Pak to develop a unique and flexible filling process for the package.
Another new closure, the Regal from Owens-Illinois, Toledo, Ohio, recalls the traditional image of a soft drink package by capturing the appearance of the original metal crown closures on glass bottles. The closure is currently topping off 250-ml. PET carbonated soft drink bottles in select European markets.
“The technology behind the Regal closure is that it’s a one-piece system and it features the O-I Outside Deformable Seal (ODS) closure,” says Steve Carter, an O-I sales director based in Europe.
The Regal closure with the ODS feature is capable of carbon dioxide retention of up to 4.7 gas volumes. It’s designed to perform in high temperatures and preserve the original taste of the product. An oxygen barrier liner also can be applied for beer applications.
The closure can be customized for other beverage applications, including pressurized water, low carbonation and high carbonation drinks.
Cork departures?
Wines are traditionally sealed with natural cork plugs, but a growing number of vineyards are opting for less traditional methods to seal their prized vintages. In January, Wildhurst Vineyards announced plans to implement aluminum screw-caps in place of natural corks for all 20,500 cases of its Wildhurst 2004 Sauvignon Blanc.
Dennis Canning, chief executive officer at Briarcliff Wine Co., said: “Like all of us in the wine trade, we are particularly sensitive to the problem of ‘corked’ wines, and this wine, especially, was meant to be consumed within a year or two of purchase. We believe this closure does a better job in preserving the aromatics, freshness and fruit characteristics of our Wildhurst wines. In addition, there are considerable savings involved with this type of closure and we can pass these savings on to the consumer. Like others, I believe this type of closure is the future for delicate wines.”
Another emerging cork alternative is the glass cork. In January, Alcoa Closure Systems International, Chicago, began commercial production of VinTegra, a 100 percent inert glass closure system that looks like a decorative decanter stopper. Made with flexible O-rings, the stopper provides a sterile seal, preventing contamination or oxidation. An aluminum over-cap and traditional neck sleeve ensure mechanical protection and tamper evidence of products.This system, already in commercial production in Europe under the trade name Vino-Lok, is available in tinted glass and acrylic colors to match standard U.S. bottle colors.
“The VinTegra closure system fills an urgent need in the wine industry, which has sought an alternative to natural cork that meets both the quality and aesthetic demands of connoisseurs,” commented Tony Smith, marketing director at Alcoa CSI North America. “The VinTegra system has successfully completed exhaustive testing by some of the most respected independent wine technical institutions in the world.”
And finally, California’s Three Thieves Bandit brand skipped the bottle and cork package altogether for its Cabernet, opting instead for a Tetra Brik Aseptic Package and a Tetra Pak SlimCap. This SlimCap technology is comprised of a plastic screw-cap, ring-pull and a standard pull-tab. According to Tetra Pak, the SlimCap provides practical storage and stacking, easy opening with tight re-closing to protect the product, and pouring control. The package is also air-tight until opened, a feature that standard corks and bottles can not achieve. BI
New look for Redhook
Seattle-based Redhook Ale Brewery introduced a new line of packaging graphics and a custom longneck bottle. The bottles feature four raised Redhook logos, while a raised decorative band of barley circles the body, dividing the label and literally giving the drinker something to hold onto. The bottom label utilizes bold graphics while the top label prominently features an evolved Redhook logo and subtle “beer drinker verbs” such as tilt, tip and quench.
A cool sixty
Palm Bay Imports, Boca Raton, Fla., and Antonio Soares Franco of Portugal have created a new look for Lancers in celebration of its 60th anniversary. Lancers’ iconic painted crock bottle has been replaced by a contemporary, sleek, frosted bottle that highlights the color of Lancers Rosé and Lancers White. The addition of a twist-off cap closure enhances the wines’ youthful appeal.
From the same family that produces Kendall-Jackson wines, Wine Block Wines, Santa Rosa, Calif., offers Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Chardonnay boxed wine in an aesthetically appealing design targeted at women. Wine Block wine is packaged in specially designed wine bags that prevent oxygen transfer, not only reducing wine spoilage but increasing the wine’s shelf life after opening. The 1.5 liter box retails for $9.99.
Award-winning Apple
Bacardi Big Apple was awarded the Excellence Award by “Package Printing Magazine.” The award, selected from more than 600 entries across all industries and categories is for Best in Show in all categories. The Excellence Award is an overall award based on design, appearance, technical development, implementation, production design, difficulty to print and printing processes. In the same competition, Bacardi Vaníla captured second place for the screen-printing techniques used to implement the label.