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Ensuring liquid refreshment

What's quenching a never-ending thirst for healthy business development in liquid refreshment? Jo Hunter reports

Alertness to new demands and trends is what keeps the liquid food, beverage and drink sector lively and continuously refreshed. A large, fresh target market of health-aware consumers has emerged wanting beverages that fit in with personal lifestyle habits and aspirations, and companies are working towards satisfying high expectations.

Increased health-consciousness on the part of purchasers has had a particular impact in the market for liquid foods and beverages, says Ian Wilkinson, product manager, Tetra Pak UK. Initially, this was directed towards the introduction of reduced fat and sugar variants of familiar products. “However, as consumers’ health awareness has become more sophisticated,” Wilkinson continues, “the dairy products market has seen a notable increase in the availability of products offering added ingredients with functional properties.”

As a response to this demand, Tetra Pak developed FlexDos providing flexible in-line aseptic dosing of additives such as enzymes, aromas, colours, lipids, probiotic bacteria and other nutritional drinks. “The system secures the survival and stability of heat sensitive functional ingredients through advanced aseptic dosing after heat treatment just before filling,” Williamson explains. “The dairy product market is becoming increasingly brand orientated as manufacturers fight to win market share from supermarket own-brands. This has further fuelled the emergence of new categories such as probiotic yoghurt and fermented dairy drinks as the industry looks to add value to commodity products such as milk.”

A growth in non-dairy, for example soya-based, products is part of the same health-driven movement. These variations have broken into mainstream retail environments in enticing packaging to attract consumers to try something new. With this new wave of products, which includes probiotics, functional foods and energy boosters in mind, Tetra Pak developed Carton Shot.

“Despite its small size, the Tetra Pak Carton Shot has the power to stand out on the shelves thanks to differentiating design, and high quality print on a large area,” says Williamson. “We have adopted a flexible philosophy, allowing producers to customise the package with a unique tear-off lid or traditional screwcap closure, tailoring it to the new products coming to the market.”

Amcor PET Packaging is taking advantage of strong growth in the healthy beverages market with what it claims to be “the world’s first-ever range of monolayer plastic bottles for long-life milk”. Xamos bottles are being trialed with a number of dairies and the first commercial use of the material is expected soon. The new PET-based material is said to offer extremely high opacity at a low thickness which has never before been possible with monolayer PET. Xamos promises a four-month minimum shelf-life for UHT milk and the tight-fitting cap makes the matt soft-touch Xamos bottle leak-free without an aluminium seal. According to Amcor an oxygen barrier up to 20 times more effective than HDPE makes Xamos an interesting proposition for manufacturers of soya milk and probiotic drinks, as does its “competitive price”.

A transparent PET container for light-sensitive products such as fruit juices needs to offer protection against visible and invisible rays to help prolong shelf life and protect nutrients. Sleever International claims a new decorative UV-barrier film solution for PET fits the bill. First used for fruit juices by the Spanish group Pascual’s Sólo Zumo brand, in 200 and 750ml bottles, the heat-shrink, mono-oriented film is said to block UV to a high degree. It can be printed up to 10-colour front and back and applied at speeds of between 15,000 and 30,000 bottles/hr on Powersleeve Evolution 4 machines.

Glassmaker O-I has branded an amber 330ml bottle with a bold Russian stamp for the first UK filling of Baltika, probably Russia’s favourite beer, which Scottish and Newcastle UK is producing under licence.

The O-I long neck design is not currently in use for any other brand. Label graphics feature the brand name in Cyrillic script with British spelling and the brewer’s coat of arms. The predominant shades of gold and blue complete the Russian effect. Sold on-trade from June, the new bottle will be seen in a four-pack in the grocery sector.

What steps can be taken for even healthier growth in bottled beer sales? Once you have decided on a bottle and label combination that looks great close-up, you want to catch the busy shopper’s eye even more quickly and preferably from the far end of the aisle. In short, you also want to make it a retailer’s favourite beer, one that’s easy to identify backstore and restock shelves with.

Smurfit Kappa appears to have cracked it. A purposeful, multi-use secondary packaging – or retail ready (RRP) – solution for Black Sheep Ale has won the thumbs-up from major retailers which means that the brewery is pushing sales of its premium ale into mainstream environments including Asda-Wal-Mart.

What do coffee brand owners want from their coffee packaging? According to Stora Enso it is a wrapper made from paper, because it is supposed to be healthier for the environment. It must also be able to support complex print graphics and withstand the rigours of high-speed coffee processes.

Stora Enso is offering all of the above, in its LumiLabel G high-end wrapper to be launched at Packaging Summit Europe, 26-27 June in Amsterdam. “LumiLabel G is an innovative alternative to plastic wrappers and allows brand owners to increase the sustainability of their packaging without compromising product design and production,” says Eckhard Kallies, Stora Enso’s vice president of packaging papers. It is being produced at the Imatra Mill in Finland

Maltesers when they first appeared as confectionery were identifiable by the light, “honeycomb” centre. The original Maltesers chocolate drink was an indulgence in a very aptly shaped, clever spherical pack. But now a lower calorie “lighter” version has been introduced in a “double bubble” jar shape by RPC Containers so that consumers see the difference. “It was important to communicate the healthier profile of the drink while maintaining the Maltesers brand values of being round, red and fun,” says Richard Cooper, brand manager at Aimia Foods.

Natural spring water reputed to be “the cleanest water in Norway” is able retain its untainted pure taste while offering consumer convenience packaged in a 10-litre bag-in-box from Rapak. The company used its own low-taint film in a collapsible bag and a Vinitap press tap from Worldwide Dispensers provides a further oxygen barrier because the valve is designed to completely seal the outlet of the tap. Apparently, once cooled Imsdal water will stay cold for several hours.

Environmental issues

More than material-based development and consumer tastes will affect the health and welfare of the different pack formats and the balance between them in the next 10 years. Since Brussels has given the green light to packaging eco-taxes, national governments of EU member states now have an economic instrument to deal with local environmental issues. Drinks containers are one of the major litter and recycling concerns.

Messing about with beverage industry market dynamics is not however a legitimate use of eco-taxes. Hungary’s discriminatory eco-tax against mainly German beer imports could land it with a hefty fine. Meanwhile the German drinks market looks set to recover a more level playing field as industry watchers foresee refillables in Germany are on the way out.

The system is close to break down and its end will come “at the latest, end of 2008” predicts Joachim Quoden, managing director of Pro Europe, a Green Dot lobbyist based in Brussels. The deposit system that was meant to protect refillables has actually killed the system, he says.

A market uptake of around or below 40% renders refillables uneconomic, and this figure has already been or is about to be reached by several refillable product sectors, according to Quoden.

Salvatore Gabola, Coca-Cola Europe’s director of public affairs and chairman of Europen, the packaging and environment lobby organisation, agrees: “The [deposit] system has plunged into crisis the well-functioning Duales System Deutschland ……what was once efficiently recycled in Germany has now become a trade-driven plastic export business to China.”

Further to stress the point, in environmental terms the emphasis on transportation makes a Europe-wide reusable consumer beverage-packaging network (refillables) impractical according to the European Commission. Nor can it be forgotten that metal packaging companies in Europe were forced to shed many jobs due to refillables.

Despite all this, the Netherlands is threatening to introduce a deposit system of its own after 2009 if intermediate measures have not significantly improved public attitudes and behaviour towards the disposal of litter such as empty drinks bottles and cans.

To be healthy and get wealthy as a company you need to wise up to consumer trends, ensure products live up to health and flavour expectations and take decisions that work towards a healthy planet.

A system which speeds up the oxygen transmission rate (OTR) in barrier PET bottles has been introduced by Sidel and Systech Instruments. The Systech 8700 will take 12 hours instead of 24 hours to measure up to 11 samples, designed to be able to meet the Sidel Actis 48 machine’s high output of more than 30,000 bottles/hr for packaging beers, soda, tea, juice and sparkling water.

Systech Instruments

T +44 (0)1844 216838

www.systech.co.uk


Contact details

Amcor
T: +44 (0)1978 856111
www.amcor.com

O-I
T: +44 (0)1279 422222
o-i.com

Rapak
T +44 (0)1788 570612
www.rapak.com

RPC Containers Raunds
T +44 (0)1933 623311
www.rpc-raunds.co.uk

Sleever International
T: +44 (0)1753 583111
www.sleever.com

Smurfit Kappa
+44 (0)1388 832002
retailready@smurfitkappa.co.uk

Stora Enso
T: +44 1689 836911
www.storaenso.com

Tetra Pak
T +44 (0)870 442 6000
tetrapak.com

Worldwide Dispensers
T: +44 (0) 20 85457500
www.worldwide-dispensers.com

O-I has branded an amber 330ml bottle with a bold Russian stamp for the first UK filling of Baltika, probably Russia’s favourite beer

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