For many years, the editors of Beverage Industry have honored beverage manufacturers who find unique ways to tell the story of their brand through innovative designs and packaging that stand out. This year is no exception, as the editors examined this year’s expansive list of new products and packaging redesigns and whittled the list to the Top 5 packages from 2018.

The overall winners, however, were selected by our readers who had the opportunity to vote for the “best of the best” in our annual Best Packages poll. Voting took place from Oct. 22 to Nov. 6 on Below are the top performers:


Friends Fun Wine

With 65 percent of the vote, Miami-based Friends Fun Wine took the No. 1 spot with the packaging design for its fruity, slightly effervescent 5.5 percent alcohol-by-volume 750-ml wines. To create the artistic packaging modeled after the cool vibes of Miami, the company turned to Miguel Paredes, art director of Friends Fun Wine. Paredes grew up in New York and spent his youth as an art student under the tutelage of Ronnie Cutrone, who was Andy Warhol’s assistant at the Factory.

Like Warhol, Paredes has created his own explosive and bold style, which is a marriage of graffiti, landscape and pop art, the company says.

“My sense of design and art has many parallels with the Friends Fun Wine brand,” Paredes says. “This bold product and what it offers to people around the world inspired me to create images that are both strong in their color and palette as well as encompassing evoking images and designs that appeal to people everywhere.”

The imagery and design elements were fashioned to appeal to a global audience of consumers who have a “tribal feeling” about their generation and their place in the world, Paredes adds.

After two years of planning and development, Friends Fun Wine launched in the United States in December 2017 and its three varietals — Sangria, Strawberry Moscato and Coconut Chardonnay — were available in-store in February.

“We feel that our packaging has a unique look and feel that is unparalleled in the alcohol beverage market and specifically in our segment,” says Scott Morris, senior vice president for Friends Fun Wine. “It is very noticeable on-shelf and creates a stunning display on the floor in our wire racks. Our retail partners love the designs and the impact that they have on consumers.

“The designs are bold like our flavor profiles and our retail partners tell us anecdotally that people buy the 750-ml bottles as a ‘keepsake’ for their homes,” Morris continues.

Morris notes that the company is constantly evolving its design, and in 2019, the same design elements will be featured on 250-ml slim cans and 330-ml glass bottles. In addition, a new distribution partnership between Friends Fun Wine and FIFCO USA, Rochester, N.Y., will enable the brand to expand across the U.S. market.

“Friends Fun Wine has carved out an enviable position for itself in the alcohol beverage space — with a global brand that lives at the intersection of fashion, music and art,” said Joe Peleg, founder and chief executive officer of Friends Fun Wine, in a statement. “We have built a global brand outside of the U.S. with great success, and now it is time to turn our attention to the states. We feel strongly that having the right partner will amplify our current business success, and drive our business and brand forward to further energize this exciting category.”


Brew Dr. Kombucha

As better-for-you products resonate in the market, shelf-stable kombuchas continue to take center stage. Garnering 28 percent of the vote to earn second place, Brew Dr. Kombucha, Portland, Ore., says its consumers were the impetus for the brand offering its delicious, refreshing fermented teas in four-packs of 12-ounce cans.

“The cans were a direct result of feedback from consumers,” explains Rob Nollenberger, senior brand manager for Brew Dr. Kombucha. “We also believe that kombucha should be enjoyed by everyone, everywhere, and for any occasion. Brew Dr. has an active group of employees, family members and fans who enjoy exploring the world, so creating Brew Dr. cans was a great way to help everyone take kombucha to all the places they love: beaches, hiking, pools, mountains, music festivals, sporting events and more.”

Launched in 2008, Brew Dr. Kombucha is available in four flavors: Clear Mind, Love, Mint Lemonade and Ginger Turmeric.

Planning for the 12-ounce can line began in 2016, and the company’s top priority was to ensure that the kombucha tasted great. “We worked tirelessly with our can manufacturer and our internal lab to ensure the highest in safety and quality,” Nollenberger says. “After multiple rounds of testing we launched our cans in June 2018. We’re proud to say we are the first kombucha company with national distribution to provide people with cans.”

Nollenberger says reception to the new packaging has been “fantastic.” “We’re getting plenty of feedback from our friends saying they love being able to toss cans of kombucha in their backpack for a trip to the beach or to drink after a hike,” he says. “We’ve seen sales increase from the launch of the cans and look forward to seeing this portion of our business continue to grow.”

Brew Dr. Kombucha’s four-packs now are available nationwide. In 2019, consumers can expect more innovation from the company as it is working on a 16-ounce can as well as bringing other flavors to the Brew Dr. Kombucha can line, the company says.


Jägermeister Mini Meisters

Capturing third place with 5 percent of the vote is Mini Meisters 10 shots-to-go from Mast-Jägermeister US, White Plains, N.Y. Each Mini Meister is packaged in 20-ml glass bottles designed to be served “ice kühl” at -18 degrees Celsius straight from the freezer, the company says.

“Mini Meisters unlock new occasions for our consumers, from tailgates, house parties, barbecues or camping,” says Lauren Jangl, public relations manager for Mast-Jägermeister US. “It’s the perfect convenient option for those moments of celebration with friends. We wanted to clearly communicate this message on our packaging by stating ‘10-shots to go’ along with our perfect ice-kühl serve communication.”

In May 2017, Jägermeister’s unveiled a new brand identity that draws from characteristics of the brand’s heritage, Jangl says. “We planned for the new packaging after this launch, so across every touch point, consumers could experience our irreverent spirit and commitment to crafted German perfection. The product officially launched in July of 2018 and the new packaging successfully delivers a premium look and feel and reflects our brand’s world aesthetic.”

Designed with consumers in mind, the single-serve Mini Meister bottle also is unique in that it is packaged in glass, not plastic like other smaller-sized bottles, allowing the Jägermeister to quickly chill to its optimal -18-degree Celsius temperature, Jangl says.

“Whether it’s summer parties or tailgating, it’s the perfect option for a grab-and-go purchase. No other spirit brand comes packaged in 10 20-ml bottles,” Jangl adds. “The single-serve glass bottle is packaged with an ‘on-the-go’ mentality and with 10 bottles in each pack, Mini Meisters are ideal for any group celebration. Social occasions can thrive with this pack as it can be broken up and shared for those moments of celebration with friends.”

Since launching in July, the Mini Meister “10 Shots-to-Go” pack have created additional buy-in opportunities from national accounts and the new packaging has resulted in a 3 percent increase in sales, the company says.

Next summer, Jägermeister plans to introduce a brand new Jägermeister Coolpack edition that promotes the idea, “best stored and served at -18-degree Celsius” simply by its classic ice pack shape.

“This latest design innovation is stackable, compact and portable and it keeps our Jägermeister brand story permanently alive in the context of fun and sociable moments like parties, picnics and music festivals,” Jangl says. “We are honored to be recognized as one of Beverage Industry’s Best New Packages of 2018. Our new Mini Meister packaging design stands as a symbol of the company’s never-ending commitment to quality.”


Honorable mentions

Rounding out the Top 5 best new packages for 2018 is the new 7-ounce bottle option for Michelob ULTRA and Sprite’s limited-edition summer collection featuring famous faces in hip-hop, which received 2 percent and 1 percent of the votes, respectively.

Michelob ULTRA, a brand of St. Louis-based Anheuser-Busch, unveiled the smaller bottle to give consumers a light beer with 55 calories and 1.5 carbohydrates. “With Michelob ULTRA 7-ounce bottles, our brand continues to lead the category by bringing consumers a great and lighter option they can enjoy during the weeknight occasion,” said Azania Andrews, vice president of Michelob ULTRA, in a statement at the time of release.

Sprite, a brand of Atlanta-based The Coca-Cola Co., launched its new limited-edition cans as part of its summer The Fresh Faces Series. The series builds on more than 30 years of celebrating the sound and feel of hip-hop, the company said in a statement, at the time of release.

Throughout the years, Sprite has partnered with numerous rappers and influencers who have played a major role in changing the hip-hop game through self-expression, it says. The 16- and 20-ounce cans and bottles featured illustrated images of rappers Logic, KYLE and MadeinTYO, comedian Jay Versace and music producer Wondagurl.

“Given the growing reach and impact of hip-hop culture, Sprite has always supported the industry’s up-and-coming creators,” said Stefan Miller, Sprite brand manager, in a statement at the time of release. “This series allows us to highlight the cool, crisp freshness of our brand and product while showcasing our partners in a new and different way by bringing their faces to the forefront.” BI