Beverage-makers use new options for sophisticated
When it comes to beverage
labeling, keeping up with increased line speeds and maintaining graphic
clarity are of utmost importance. But with those essential bases covered,
beverage-makers have a range of options from which to choose, including
traditional cut-and-stack labels, pressure-sensitive options or full-body
Following beverage trends in general, the number of
labeling options seem to be picking up steam in the healthy drinks arena,
says Beth Backstrom, sales manager at Precision Press Inc., Mankato, Minn.
“We are hearing more and more requests from the manufacturers in the
sports drink and health drink related categories,” she says.
“Customers are seeking new ways to market in this competitive and
That marketing includes making an impact at the point
of purchase, and Backstrom says many beverage-makers are turning to film
for their graphic capabilities. “Many customers who have
traditionally used paper cut-and-stack labels for their products are
interested in using film substrates,” she says. “Even with
artwork, they are asking for ways to help maximize impact and shelf appeal.
Marketers are looking for the crisp, clear, high-quality printing that
offset [printing] provides.”
With commercial print presses for all types of labels,
Precision Press offers services for most beverage options, including
patent-pending technology that supports consistent-sized film and paper
cut-and-stack labels. As an alternative, it also has begun producing
thinner films that “cross the 3-ml. thickness threshold,”
“Additionally, we have developed embossing
capabilities and realized opportunities to answer customer needs for more
promotional pieces,” she continues. “We have the ability to
provide manufacturers with variable data and coding options on labels to
support their marketing needs for demographic research and
Dave Niemuth, director of labeling technology at
Krones USA, says he sees companies following the lead of the soft drink
segment. “We are seeing customers upgrading to a more modern look
with oriented polypropylene (OPP) label material,” he says.
But beverage companies
still use a range of label options, and Krones developed the Modul Labeler
to work with all of them. “Our main focus is our new style Modul
labeler which is extremely flexible when labeling a variety of container
shapes and sizes,” Niemuth says. “Basically you can label
wet-glue, roll-fed, pressure-sensitive and cut-and-stack labels all on one
labeler. A great concept for contract packers.”
The Modul Labeler can run at speeds of 50 to 1,000
containers per minute, and is designed to switch easily from one type of
label to another. It also handles many container sizes, including round,
rectangular, oval and square bottles.
An all around option
Shrink-sleeve labeling allows beverage-makers to wrap
an entire bottle for all-over graphic effects, and PDC International,
Norwalk, Conn., specializes in shrink-tunnel technology.
“We are seeing a surge in demand for
shrink-sleeve labeling for the dramatic graphics that are available,”
says Neal Konstantin, president at PDC. “You can maximize the
billboard effect of the label and maximize the potential impact of any
Dairy-based beverages are leading the way in
shrink-sleeve labeling, he says. But beverage segments such as juice,
ready-to-drink tea, coffee drinks and other alternative beverages also are
adopting the technology. “It allows differentiation as well as high
graphic impact,” Konstantin says, explaining the package’s
appeal to the new age arena.
PDC’s R-500 Shrinklabeler is designed to keep up
with high-speed production lines, and is able to apply sleeves at a rate of
500 to 600 per minute on a single inline head. The machine is designed for
continuous movement of sleeving material during the cutting and application
process, eliminating web indexing.
In addition, the company has introduced product
development services that allow beverage-makers to prototype packaging,
Konstantin says. The company is able to study and resolve issues such as
material grades and shrink characteristics in the product development
stage, prior to test marketing.
Hot-glue labeling also remains a popular choice for
beverage packages due to its lower cost and high-speed capabilities, says
Deborah Daca, inside sales manager at Multi-tech Systems International
Inc., Burlington, Ontario.
In addition, she says Multi-tech has seen a large
number of companies choosing to refurbish equipment, taking used equipment
and making it new again. The company often will supply change parts and
rebuild equipment for beverage manufacturers that are downsizing or moving
equipment to other plants.
“It allows them to utilize surplus
inventory,” she says. “They really end up with a whole new
Put on the pressure
Pressure-sensitive labeling has become popular in the
beverage industry for the impact it has on consumers, and one of the most
dramatic labels to hit the market recently has to be the glow-in-the-dark
label developed by Spear Inc., Mason, Ohio, for SABMiller’s Miller
Genuine Draft. The bottle was introduced in
South Africa as a way to gain attention for MGD as a premium import in that
According to Dan Muenzer, vice president of marketing
at Spear, the package incorporated a number of unique technologies. For
one, it marked the first time a brewery had used a clear pressure-sensitive
front label in South Africa. The label also incorporated a thick varnish,
measuring about 40 microns, on the word “Miller” to create
tactile appeal. In addition, the word “Miller” stands out in
the dark environment of a bar or nightclub through the use of ink that
glows under black light. And to top the whole thing off, the bottle
incorporates a peel-off back label that was used as a promotional game
Muenzer says that while all of the technologies have
been used by other brands, this is the first time they were combined into
one bottle. “They’ve been thrilled with the response so
far,” he says.
Pressure-sensitive labeling is commonly used in the
United States and abroad, but Muenzer says the labels are used more on
high-volume packaging in the United States, and in more promotional ways
elsewhere. Anheuser-Busch, for example, switched its glass bottle packaging
for Bud Light, its largest brand, to pressure-sensitive labels. And in
June, Heineken and Amstel Light began carrying new pressure-sensitive
labels in the United States.
“In the United States it’s being used more
for everyday packaging to create a premium image,” Muenzer says.
“Packaging outside of the United States seems to be not as
commoditized. If you go to Europe or to Asia, there are a lot more regional
brands and a lot more specialty brands, and not as much standard packaging.
Pressure-sensitive has really fit in there very nicely as a way to create
In addition to a sophisticated look, Muenzer says
pressure-sensitive labels often can quickly recoup their investment costs
by offering cleaner operation and increasing throughput by maintaining
faster line speeds. “They can move a lot more cases out the door in
the same amount of time,” he says. BI
Beverage Industry’s November issue highlights the 100-year advocacy of the American Beverage Association and what’s next for CEO Katherine Lugar and a new plastics initiative, Every Bottle Back. This issue includes a special report on craft beer, an Up Close With feature on PRESS hard cider and what is sparking innovation in natural colors. Read more about how protein is powering up beverages and how warehouses are using WMS and WCS systems to streamline operations. As usual, the latest trends in new products, packaging and ingredients are highlighted.
Check back throughout the month for additional content.