Design and packaging choice is key to a brand's success and can often become iconic - think Coca-Cola's contour bottle. Soft Drinks International highlights some recent new products and their packaging rationale.

Glass is having a tough fight on its hands to withstand the pressure of PET, but Rexam Glass Barnsley believes the medium transmits a unique feeling of quality and confidence that cannot be matched by other materials. Recently the company has worked with Merrydown to design an elegant new 500ml bottle for the Shloer 'Real Fruit Blend' dilutable range.

Launched in September, the new bottle size has been designed to complement the new selection of fruity flavours and to enhance the sophisticated quality of the product. Targeted at the age 30 plus female market, the bottle's clean contours reflect the curves of the female form, making it aesthetically appealing and also easy to hold.

Barry Munday of Rexam Glass Barnsley commented: "We have worked with Merrydown on many projects and, as a result, have a clear understanding of the company's requirements. The packaging design is essentially inspired by Shloer's target audience as well as the qualities of the product itself. The refreshing new bottle therefore combines sophistication with clean design."

Sue Howe of Merrydown added: "We are delighted with the packaging that Rexam Glass has created for us. Glass is the perfect material for this project as it helps to enhance the natural qualities of our product whilst adding a premium feel. It also helps to maintain its fresh taste, which is a fundamental packaging requirement."

Similarly the company has developed new bottles for the Belvoir range of organic pressés. Once again, the design reflects the product's luxury positioning aimed mainly at female high-income earners aged 25 and above.  A Belvoir spokesperson said: "There is an elegant curve to the shoulder and neck of the bottle, its warm natural lines inspired by the organic fruit ingredients of the drink."

Rexam Glass produce both 75cl and 25cl sizes at its Barnsley plant from where it is sent for filling, closing and labelling. Both bottles are supplied to Belvoir Fruit Farms through one of Rexam's UK distributors, Bristol Bottle Co in Aldridge, West Midlands.

"It's a premium bottle for a premium market," said Steve Charlesworth, business development manager at Rexam Glass Barnsley. "Most interesting for the market, the new range marks yet another organic brand choosing glass packaging. This is a growing trend across Europe and reflects what we have been saying for some time -


"There is no other packaging material that better reflects 'organic' qualities for food and beverages. Glass is natural, inert, table presentable and fully recyclable"
there is no other packaging material that better reflects 'organic' qualities for food and beverages. Glass is natural, inert, table presentable and fully recyclable."

Elsewhere in the glass sector Llanllyr Source, winner of bottledwaterworld's Best Glass Concept, reports it  has taken another significant step forward with the introduction of a new format. Ian Lowther, managing director, finds it hard to say whether the new sharp, stylish black (still) and silver (sparkling) labelled bottle is more attractive than the award winning 'original' format which remains very much a part of the range. "The 'original' is a premium product because it's an expensive bottle to manufacture and finish. We think the new bottle and label design looks equally fantastic although it's clearly a different style. Importantly it's more competitive and of course it's the same high quality water."

A high speed production line is being installed to fill the new bottle. "I wonder what the Cistercian nuns who first drew water from beneath these fields over 800 years ago would have made of it," said Patrick Gee, marketing director, whose family has owned the site for almost 300 years. Turning to the present he continued: "The original bottle has been successful  at the premium end of the on-trade market and it continues to enjoy  significant sales growth."

PET Innovation
Constar, Inc, the plastic packaging division of Crown Cork & Seal Company, Inc, has developed the first PET water package capable of being dispensed through 12 ounce can vending machines.  Developed for Suntory Water Group (Atlanta, Georgia ), the 11.5 oz. package is currently being rolled out across the US.

The container works within height and diameter constraints of can vending machines, while still meeting the capacity requirements of Suntory's existing filling equipment.  The successful design was achieved by sourcing a low profile 38mm cap, running on non-traditional blow moulding equipment, and developing a base design to accommodate internal pressure and capping requirements.

The vending distribution system also introduced new challenges to package integrity. Along with standard pallet stacking requirements, individual containers are subject to column stacking, on their sides, in vending machines. Constar used finite element analysis (FEA) to optimise container geometry relative to top load, side load and internal pressure requirements. Don Deubel, director of package development for Constar, noted that the outwardly simple design masks the complexity of this design challenge.

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"Concerns about health and nutrition are leading education officials to re-think soft drink vending"
We're seeing the most interest for the new PET Vend Bottle from schools, where concerns about health and nutrition are leading education officials to re-think soft drink vending," added Cam Glover, product manager for Suntory Water Group.  "We are excited to be able to offer contemporary beverage options in markets not open to us before."

The Institute of Packaging Professionals (IoPP) has also recognised the container's innovative design, naming it a 2002 AmeriStar Award winner in the Beverage Category.

Suntory Water Group, established in 1985, bottles, sells and distributes water and related products under regional brand names including Belmont Springs, Crystal Springs, Kentwood Springs, Hinckley Springs and Sierra Springs, as well as nationally branded Nursery Water.  The new PET Vend Bottle will be available under all regional brand names.

Expert Analysis

Growth Strategies in Packaging Food & Drinks

This report provides you with a comprehensive breakdown and future forecast of each key packaging segment to 2007 backed up by in-depth analysis and relevant and up to-to-date case studies.

 

In the UK MangaJo, the UK's first fresh soya-based drink manufacturer chose a perfectly clear standard  250ml PET container for its range of Soya Essentials. Steve Carter, european sales director of supplier Owen-Illinois Plastics, said:  "More and more drinks manufacturers are turning to PET for attractive bottles for chill cabinet drinks.  For companies seeking to launch in this sector in anything from a few hundred thousand to around two million units, our range of standard containers gives a host of possibilities to help them put their feet in the water. They can move onto custom-designed containers once they have a proven success on their hands."

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