Food and drink packaging is just as important as what's inside.
Packaging serves as a way to keep food fresh and protected from the time it was made until it's enjoyed by the consumer. It provides the all-important first impression of a product and what sets it apart from competitors. It provides the first opportunity a manufacturer has to tell the consumer about the product, what it looks like, how it's used, what's in it and how healthy it is.
But most importantly nowadays, packaging is a way that manufacturers can show their views on sustainability. And that is becoming one of the most important qualifiers to consumers right now. According to research from Trivium Packaging in a partnership with Boston Consulting Group, more than two out of three consumers said environmentally friendly, recyclable packaging was important to them. Almost three in four said they would pay more for sustainable packaging.
According to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency statistics reported by MarketWatch, food and packaging make up about 45% of items in U.S. landfills. But companies are looking to ways to improve their packaging, using less disposable and more recyclable materials. Not only can these materials represent sustainability to consumers, but they also can sometimes improve transportability, transparency and shelf life.
This report looks at several aspects of food and beverage packaging, with a particular focus on how it is becoming more sustainable. These include:
Paper bottles for spirits and soft drinks coming from Pepsi and Diageo in 2021.
Wine bottles made from 94% recycled paperboard created by British company Frugalpac.
New sustainable packaging concepts for meat products, including films and trays that use less material and larvae that can consume polystyrene packaging.
The resurgence of glass as a reusable and transparent packaging solution.
New concepts in drink packaging that enhances consumer experience and beverage preservation.
The popularity of reusable packaging concepts, like TerraCycle's Loop program.
Vita Coco's new premium packaged water brand Ever & Ever, which uses an aluminum bottle to set it apart.
PepsiCo's moves toward more sustainable drink packaging, with more cans and fewer plastic bottles.
Moves by PepsiCo and Coca-Cola to create interactive water coolers for consumers' own containers, eliminating the need for disposable bottles.
We hope you enjoy this look at food and beverage packaging.
Diageo and PepsiCo will debut paper bottles in 2021
The alcohol giant will launch the 100% plastic-free packaging for Johnnie Walker whisky early next year, while PepsiCo and Unilever are developing it for their products.
By: Lillianna Byington• Published July 14, 2020
Some of the biggest names in the beverage industry are working together for a major development in paper packaging.
In July, Diageo and Pilot Lite, a venture management company, launched Pulpex Limited, a sustainable packaging technology company. The companies created what they call "the world's first ever 100% plastic free paper-based spirits bottle, made entirely from sustainably sourced wood." The bottle will debut with Johnnie Walker scotch whisky in early 2021.
Pulpex Limited created a consortium of companies, including founding partners Unilever and PepsiCo, to further develop and scale the paper bottle. More partners are expected to be announced later in the year.
"With these challenges we have on packaging and plastics, no one company can solve these things," Ron Khan, vice president of beverage packaging for PepsiCo, said. "We've been looking at a lot of partnerships to come together as an industry to solve some of these problems." PepsiCo expects to pilot branded paper bottles with Pulpex’s technology in 2021.
"Liquids are not natural bedfellows, so from an R&D point of view, there's a lot of work to do to be able to do that," Khan said. "Paper, of course, is highly recycled, but it's a little bit more challenging, how you put liquids in plain paper."
Although there have been developments in this area, many recyclable beverage containers have a mix of materials. TetraPak, for example, is made with thin layers of polyethylene, paper and aluminum put together. Unless those layers are separated, the packaging may not be accepted by every recycler.
This new bottle from Pulpex is made with sustainably sourced pulp for food-safe standards and is also intended to be fully recyclable in standard waste streams.
Unilever, PepsiCo and Diageo will be using the new technology in non-competing product categories next year. Diageo is making bottles for its alcoholic beverages. Unilever will cover personal and household care, and PepsiCo will be in the non-alcoholic beverage space, although Khan said they are still discussing what product would be best to pilot with the bottle. More partner companies are expected to join as the consortium develops.
"If [the bottle] can solve some of the problems in society with waste, then we need to make it as widely available as possible," he said. "If you look at the three partners now, we've covered quite a few product categories."
The bottle announced in July was built for Diageo's alcoholic beverages. Khan said R&D work is needed to get this breakthrough technology useable for Pepsi for manufacturing, quality and distribution.
According to Reuters, Diageo's packaging is less than 5% plastic. Working with PepsiCo and Unilever, the spirits company set goals to decrease and recycle plastic in their packaging by 2025 as part of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals program.
PepsiCo said its role in the Pulpex Consortium will continue to drive its sustainability progress. In 2019, PepsiCo pledged to reduce virgin plastic content across its beverage business by 35% by 2025. The company is also working to make 100% of its packaging recyclable, compostable or biodegradable by 2025, which is reportedly about 90% complete now. Going forward, the company will continue to have a mix of packaging in its portfolio.
"They all have a role to play with packaging," Khan said. "There's no inherent issues with plastics. In fact, plastics are a brilliant material. But as we say in our strategy, the issue is about plastics going to waste."
Article top image credit: Permission granted by Diageo
Sustainable packaging company launches wine bottle made from 94% recycled paper
The Frugal Bottle has a carbon footprint up to 84% lower than a glass bottle and a third less than a recycled plastic one.
By: Lillianna Byington• Published July 2, 2020
In June, a new wine bottle packaging launched that is made from 94% recycled paperboard with a liner built to hold the beverage.
The innovation, called the Frugal Bottle, is about five times lighter than a typical glass wine bottle, Independent reported. The bottle was created by British sustainable packaging company Frugalpac. The first wine to hit shelves in the new paper packaging is from the Italian vineyard Cantina Goccia and will be sold online and at retail in Scotland, according to the company.
A Life Cycle Analysis, conducted by Intertek, found the Frugal Bottle has a carbon footprint up to 84% lower than a glass bottle and a water footprint roughly four times smaller than glass. The bottle's carbon footprint is also more than a third less than a recycled plastic bottle.
Designing high-quality sustainable packaging that keeps products fresh, holds liquids and endures temperature changes has been challenging for manufacturers, which is why many have continued to use traditional plastic.
If the launch of the bottle of wine from Cantina Goccia is popular among consumers, it could end up being used by other alcohol companies, many of whom have tried to create more efficient packaging as consumer demand for eco-friendly products increases. Frugalpac says its innovation can also store spirits such as gin, vodka and rum.
In May, Frugalpacreceived a $2.5 million investment and announced plans to release two products, the paper-based wine bottle launching now and a paper package for foods like noodles and yogurts. A month earlier, the company also announced that it made the first to-go coffee cup produced from 96% recycled paper.
With additional funding, the company looks to continue innovating in this space and could be a partner for big CPG companies in the future as deadlines for pledges to make all their packaging recyclable get closer. Greenpeace reported recently that CPG companies have not shown substantial progress on their sustainability goals.
Let's think back to earlier this year, we were in the midst of potential lockdowns or illness, and many consumers overbought products. Consumers didn't pay attention to the labels, they prioritized the product itself – not the brand, not the number per package – they just needed the toilet paper, antibacterial wipes, sanitizer, water, or food! Now, let's fast forward to the present day. A time, still filled with uncertainty, but a little more stability and progress in maneuvering through the "new normal" of life. A time when labels and packaging are still very relevant, but their role in consumer purchase decisions has changed.
Let's talk about some of the trends and ways in which companies have had to pivot amongst the challenges that coronavirus has caused. How have labels and packaging in the food, beverage, and consumer product space changed in 2020?
Our grocery shopping experience has dramatically changed in 2020. Shelf-stable foods are flying off the shelves as consumers seek to fill their pantries. Consumers are utilizing new online shopping platforms to do much of their grocery shopping, limiting their in-store exposure time for essential products only. Knowing that consumers aren't entering stores in person as much as they used to, are there adjustments that need to be made to your label or packaging to be successful in the e-commerce platform? Even when consumers are entering stores, they are less likely to touch multiple products to learn more about an item, because they are trying to limit the spread of germs. Information presence on the packaging has always been imperative, but now more than ever consumers need the most relevant and important information on the front to ensure additional handling of a product isn't required.
Throughout 2020, the bar and restaurant industry has had to adjust significantly. There were times when bars and restaurants were completely closed, offering curbside pickup, or open with limited capacity – they've seen it all. This has had a major effect on the beverage industry with less on tap needs and brand owners adapting to push more convenient, on-the-go offerings in bottles and cans. These efforts have been successful but also come with challenges. Beverage companies are finding aluminum cans hard to come by. In an effort to combat the shortage and move forward, we are seeing brands are moving volume that was in pre-printed cans to glass bottles utilizing cut and stack or pressure-sensitive labels instead.
The food and beverage industries are not the only ones pivoting. We've seen significant changes in the consumer products industry as well. Early on, many companies in the craft beer and distillery market started to produce hand sanitizer to help not only keep their machines running, but also provide a much-needed product. Hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes are still flying off the shelves and near impossible to find months later.
Big brands are reviewing their product portfolios to minimize the number of SKUs they are producing and streamlining their flagship brands in an effort to get product out the door quicker. Consumers are seeking positive reinforcement when it comes to disinfecting products. We have learned that some products are more effective against coronavirus, so it has been essential for brands to promote their wipes and sanitizers as "confirmed effective against coronavirus."
Sustainability has been a hot topic for many years, and it may be too early to tell at this point how coronavirus may affect sustainability initiatives. Will brand owners relook at sustainability initiatives with coronavirus concerns and potentially go back towards one-time use products to fight against the spread of germs? Only time will tell.
All in all, 2020 is a year of change and adaptability and your labels and packaging play a huge part. Consumers' shopping experiences have changed, and their expectations of packaging are different than they once were. Does your brand's packaging reflect the new priorities of the consumer?
Article top image credit: Pexels.com/Mehrad Vosoughi
New discoveries sharply curtail food packaging waste
By: Jessi Devenyns• Published June 8, 2020
In June, Südpack, a German packaging company, released two new sustainable packaging concepts for meat products that use significantly less material, according to FoodBev Media.
The Flow Pack PurePP is a film that uses only 60% of the material involved in traditional tray packaging. In addition, Südpack's Multifol PurePP film can be used for vacuum pack solutions and requires only 55% of the material in classic minced meat packs. Both solutions are created out of polypropylene and remove the need for a tray, which is typically used for minced meat.
Even as packaging for water is upgraded to non-plastic containers and more fruit enclosed in plastic wrappers is replaced by environmentally friendly materials made by companies such as Apeel Sciences, meat packaging has remained relatively untouched. Styrofoam trays secured by a thin sheet of plastic remain prevalent in meat cases across the U.S. However, this latest release from Südpack may drastically change the appearance of packaging used for animal-based protein and make it more sustainable.
Packaging is one of the largest causes of waste in the United States. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimated packaging and containers account for a significant portion, about 23%, of the municipal solid waste stream in the United States, equal to an estimated 39 million tons per year.
The reality that much of today’s virgin plastic ends up in the landfill rather than recycled has fueled pressure from consumers for a packaging alternative. A 2018 survey from Nielsen found nearly half of U.S. consumers said they were likely to change their purchasing decisions to meet environmental standards. Despite this continued call for sustainable packaging, plastic remains an economical solution for companies.
Not only is plastic a cheap and widely-available material, but companies looking to switch their packaging methodologies often need to invest millions of dollars to retool their machinery. Nestlé said in January it plans to spend as much as $2.1 billion to shift its packaging from virgin plastics to food-grade recycled ones. It's also investing and working with Loop, a company that claims its containers are environmentally neutral after three uses.
For companies without the financial wherewithal to switch to a more sustainable alternative, plastic remains a practical solution. Even some larger companies like Coca-Cola continue to rely on this material; the company said in January it will continue to use plastic packaging because the lightweight and resealable format is popular with consumers.
Due to the popularity of new packaging options, many businesses, including Südpack, are striving to create more sustainable versions of plastic for widespread use. Recently, Mondelez announced it is updating its Philadelphia cream cheese packaging to contain recycled plastic processed by Berry Global.
At the same time, researchers are looking at ways to make plastic more easily recyclable. Scientists from the chemistry firm Carbios recently discovered an enzyme that can break PET plastic down into food-grade material in a matter of hours. It has already partnered with PepsiCo, Nestlé and Suntory to help scale and commercialize the technology.
Now, scientists have found superworms can digest another form of plastic known as polystyrene, according to a paper published by the American Chemical Society. After 21 days, beetle larvae commonly sold at pet stores finished 70% of the polystyrene plastic given to them. This latest addition to plastic decomposition efforts may give pause to companies that have been working furiously to find sustainable packaging solutions. While the worms did not completely digest all the plastic they were given in laboratory tests, they did substantially reduce the quantity.
If these superworms are used with mealworms and waxworms, which are known to consume plastic, these organisms may become an option for companies that want to use the material. The solution becomes even more effective if companies paired creatures that render plastic disposable with packages that use less plastic overall.
Article top image credit: Retrieved from Südpack on June 08, 2020
Glass: Packaging that's clearly worth a second look
As consumers want packaging that is safe, sustainable, premium and transparent, manufacturers are increasingly going back to an old stalwart.
By: Jessi Devenyns• Published May 30, 2019
Until the time that Dustin Hoffman's character in the 1967 movie "The Graduate" was told that plastics were the future, everything from shampoo to ketchup was sold in glass containers.
Flash forward 50 years and now nearly everything in a supermarket is packaged in walls of plastic that take 450 to 1,000 years to decompose. Unlike plastic — which the Ellen MacArthur Foundation estimates will outweigh fish in the oceans by 2050 — glass is a naturally inert material that will disintegrate back into the environment.
Thanks to a chemical composition that makes glass safe to both eat out of and throw away, its smaller environmental footprint and its link to transparency in food manufacturing, consumers and manufacturers alike are developing a newfound affection for glass packaging.
Rekindling an old flame
After being nearly overshadowed by other modern packaging iterations, the mid-2000s is when glass began resurfacing in the mainstream market, Murray Bain, vice president of marketing at packaging company Stanpac, said. Bain explained that he attributes that resurgence to two main factors: the environment and new interest in small-batch, high-quality products.
Joe Cattaneo, president of the trade association Glass Packaging Institute, had a similar explanation. He said customers are coming back to glass because of unexpected environmental problems with plastic, including the reality that only 9% of all plastic discarded since 1950 has been recycled, according to a study by the Center for International Environmental Law. Plastic packaging has also directly contributed to the global rise in temperatures.
As plastic continues to grow in popularity as a packaging option — the Ellen MacArthur Foundation found the global share of plastic packaging increased from 17% to 25% between 2000 and 2015, with volumes expected to quadruple by 2050 — the inability to recycle it has led consumers to push companies to reconsider their wrappers.
Out of available packaging options like aluminum, steel, glass and paper, Cattaneo said glass stands out as the clear winner. Not only is glass more environmentally friendly than plastic, but the FDA has widely deemed glass as generally recognized as safe (GRAS), a designation that Cattaneo points out is not given to other packaging materials. GRAS is a designation that endorses the safety of food packaging and additives for use in contact with food.
Glass has not only received FDA's seal of approval, but it also allows manufacturers to produce products in a way that can lead to higher quality.
For generations, Europeans have been making yogurt and selling it in glass jars. Yoplait, which began as a French dairy cooperative in 1964, was no exception. Although the brand is now owned by General Mills, the yogurt producer went back to its roots in 2017 to create Oui French-style yogurt. Unlike other U.S. Yoplait products, this yogurt comes in glass because of the jars’ unique role in yogurt processing and fermentation.
"Glass is the only packaging that the FDA has the approval of it as GRAS (generally recognized as safe). No other product line has that category.”
President, Glass Packaging Institute
“Instead of culturing the product in very large vats first and then filling each cup with an already cultured product, we are culturing the product within the very same glass pot consumers pick up at the store,” General Mills spokesman Mike Siemienas said in an email. “It better protects the delicate product texture. Glass is very rigid and helps maintain the yogurt’s integrity, particularly since we do not add corn starch or gelatin to stabilize our yogurt base.”
Similarly, other industries are finding a new interest in glass as well. College Inn, a producer of stocks and broths, recently diverged from its typical paper carton storage when it announced the release of a new culinary-grade version of its stock in a glass mason jar.
“The small batch process that we use with our glass line allows us to do things that we couldn’t do with cartons," Del Monte Foods Marketing Director Rick Bingham said. With cartons, you remove all the fat from the product and it’s that small amount of fat that you find as an ingredient in homemade stocks that gives it that rich mouthfeel that kind of lingers in your mouth and savors.”
Less is more
The perception of glass as a receptacle for high-quality products also stems from its transparency — both literally and figuratively.
“From an aesthetic perspective, we think it gives you a really nice perspective on what the product is," Bingham said. "You’re able to see the product, you’re able to experience the product in a way that you can’t otherwise.”
On a more figurative level, glass — a natural product made from silica sand, soda ash, limestone and often recycled material — is transparent about its environmental impacts.
As the only packaging material that doesn’t require a plastic or chemical liner, glass is easily recyclable. Recycling programs for glass bottles and jars are available to 81% of the U.S. population, according to the Glass Packaging Institute. With 2.4 million tons of glass being recycled annually into new containers, according to the Glass Recycling Coalition, that translates to about a third of all glass jars in the U.S. containing recycled material, explained Cattaneo.
For both Stanpac and General Mills, the proportion of glass reforged into packaging is slightly higher.
“The two main plants that we get our glass from are in the Chicago area and they’re above 40% (recycled),” Bain said. Siemienas wrote that approximately 40% of the glass used in the production of Oui yogurt jars was recycled.
"Very early on we felt that … there was a place for (glass) and we happened to be right. Maybe we were naïve or lucky, who knows, but I like to think we were brilliant."
Vice president of marketing, Stanpac
Even if glass is not recycled, Cattaneo said, its presence in a landfill is not catastrophic. Broken and crushed glass is used to cover landfill waste to help control odor and scavenging because it will not chemically react with either the waste or the environment.Also, over time, he said, glass will disintegrate back into sand, its primary form.
Breaking down to the downsides
Sand as a substance is far weightier than chemically compounded polymers. The result is that glass is much heavier than plastic, which can contribute to increased production and transportation costs.
Part of the increase in production cost is company-specific glass packaging with interesting shapes or company logos. This means companies purchase individual glass molds and pay more in associated manufacturing costs.
Although pricier, this unique aspect of glass containers is what first sparked the idea for Del Monte to put College Inn stock back in glass jars, said Bingham. Reaching back into history and renewing the use of glass for packaging also prompted College Inn to revive old stock recipes that focus on premium ingredients and small-batch processing to create a higher-quality product for consumers. The resulting price will be a reflection of a top-notch stock.
Bain argued although glass may have a heftier upfront price point, it is actually a cheaper packaging option down the line, especially for companies who ascribe to a refillable bottle philosophy.
“The single-use container, you’ve used once," Bain said. "…The glass container, depending on the method of distribution, could be used 10 times or up to 40 times.”
Even including the cost of returning the bottles back to the dairy and washing them, Bain said glass is still a more economical option. He noted an operating model that uses refillable bottles and jars isn’t appropriate for large CPG manufacturers,but manufacturers producing large quantities of products in glass will benefit from reduced prices per jar, thanks to economies of scale.
The obvious downside to using glass is its fragility. Cattaneo said manufacturers are not the only ones that like plastic for its cheap, lightweight nature.
“It’s a retailer issue too for us, because they prefer plastic. It doesn’t break,” he said.
One word: Glass
Despite a resurgence in glass from the craft beer industry and a variety of CPG manufacturers, there is continued resistance from manufacturers and retailers to expand glass packaging to more products. Cattaneo believes glass will remain an ecological niche choice, unless plastic is banned and manufacturers are forced to rely on alternative packaging.
The reluctance is across many categories. Although Siemienas said Oui was one of the category's most successful launches in years, earning more than $100 million in sales, glass packaging in the Yoplait line will be relegated to this one product.
For more boutique producers and manufacturers, however, glass may be the future.
“We have several new dairies per year that come on board because the trend for not using plastics is ever-increasing, and the trend of knowing where your food comes from is increasing too,” said Bain.
Ultimately, it will be consumers who determine which packaging option prevails. Environmental concerns are already prevailing in every boardroom conversations, as investors demand companies reduce their use of plastic and consumers ask companies create environmentally friendly packaging that doesn’t alter taste. And companies are responding.
In 2018, Kraft Heinz announced its plans to make 100% of its packaging recyclable, reusable or compostable by 2025. Last year, Aldi announced a similar initiative and timeframe, to convert all of its packaging to reusable, recyclable or compostable materials in six years.
Although there is demand for packaging that isn't plastic, production costs for sustainable options are about 25% more than traditional plastic. That leaves glass as a viable option for the near term. With its ready accessibility, warm reception from consumers, lack of effect on taste and inherent sustainability, glass may be the choice of the future.
“Very early on we felt … there was a place for (glass), and we happened to be right," Bain said. "Maybe we were naïve or lucky. Who knows? But I like to think we were brilliant.”
Beyond bottles: How today's drink packages quench consumers' thirst
Resealable cans, portability, sustainability and reinvented user experiences are helping beverage companies stand out on crowded shelves.
By: Jessi Devenyns• Published July 30, 2019
When it comes to selecting a drink, a consumer will gravitate toward something that pleases her taste buds. But how will she make a selection between the plethora of options in a single category? Packaging.
Long gone are the days when the only options were paper cartons, glass bottles or aluminum cans. From sleek and slim forms to textured surfaces or interactive components encouraging engagement with the brand, beverage manufacturers are seeking ways to stand out on the shelf — and in consumers’ minds — with innovative packaging that brings more than just protection to a beverage.
“We’re getting more into this,” Jon Beam, marketing manager at beverage packaging company Crown Holdings said. “Interactive inks and tech finishes (and) high definition printing — all of the things that contribute to the consumer experience.”
One of Crown Holdings' more recognizable innovations was Coors Light’s iconic color-changing mountains, which Beam explained was lucrative for the company, in terms of bringing notoriety to the brand. The quarter after Coors Light released this packaging update in 2009, the beer's sales grew. The company said in an earnings release that the product release was “exceeding expectations.”
Since then, Crown Holdings has evolved its technology into temperature-sensitive ink that Coca-Cola debuted in 2018 in Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia on cans of Coke, Coke Zero, Fanta and Sprite. These cans have text that appears when chilled, and have yet to roll out stateside.
In the United States, Crown Holdings is focusing on other technologies, partnering with beer companies to create can openings meant to mimic the draft beer experience.
Crown isn’t the only company looking into futuristic beverage packaging. Tetra Pak and Sustana Fiber are two other companies hoping to bring about disruption in the market. These manufacturers are trying to change up drink packaging through lighter materials to save on transportation costs, eye-catching packaging to convince consumers to take things off the shelf, and increasing sustainability to keep pace with market demand for environmentally friendly packaging options.
The drinking experience
How to drink out of a beverage container is deceptively complicated. Whether it requires strawsor it's served in pouches, or the typical can tab is replaced in favor of removing the entire top, the mechanics of drinking can make a remarkable difference in how a package is designed.
User experience, Tetra Pak Vice President of North American Marketing Pedro Gonçalves said, can be boiled down into one question: “When I drink this from the package, does it feel good?”
To answer this question, Tetra Pak engineers filmed how liquid flowed out of different openings to understand the speed and volume of how it gets into a consumer's mouth. This research led to the Tetra Prisma DreamCap, which controls beverage flow for consumers who are on the go.
PepsiCo has also been examining its beverage container closures. Mountain Dew’s closure innovation, with its resealable tabbed lid and a no-slip grip on the can, has sparked interest among gamers. The lid is particularly interesting because it provides a classic can-drinking experience while removing one of the inherent risks: spillage.
“Mountain Dew’s Game Fuel’s resealable tops allow for easy gameplay, but also allow the drink to maintain its freshness longer," A.T. Kearney analyst Corey Chafin said in an email. "If successful, this move allows Pepsi to break into a growing market and establish a new normal for can tops, which haven’t seen significant innovation in decades.”
“When I drink this from the package, does it feel good?”
Vice president of North American marketing, Tetra Pak
Preventing spills is a major consideration, Gonçalves said, especially on packaging for children. He pointed to juice boxes. For years, they have had a chunky shape for easy gripping and a straw to prevent spills, but are ripe for innovation.
“What we’re working on is to come up with a possibility to make small changes in the shape that is available today that will allow other spaces to communicate attributes…without changing the efficiency or the user experience of the package,” he said. Packaging attributes include federally required labels as well as branding and any interactive technology like augmented reality that allows the user to engage with the company in a new dimension through interactive digital content. Tetra Pak is still working to find the balance that will allow brands to communicate more information on the package without altering the functionality of the classic juice box shape.
Crown Holdings did a complete overhaul of another kind of packaging. Craft brewers wanted to completely change the user experience, so the company designed the 360 End, which has a completely removable top. The idea came from breweries wanting to provide a drinking experience akin to what consumers enjoy in a taproom, where the wide openings on pint glasses allow drinkers to enjoy the full aroma and color of a brew. The removable tops also help reduce waste by turning cans into cups for those who like to pour beer into a glass.
“It’s the first ever lid for full aperture in the beverage can market,” Beam said.He said that the idea was to provide on the go convenience while also “recreate the traditional tap drinking experience.” Much like a pint of beer, the can is not resealable once the top is removed. Nevertheless, craft beer brands like Noon Whistle Brewing and Sly Fox Brewing Company are using this innovation to connect their customer with the aromas and the overall experience of drinking craft beer.
Connection is more than just physical
Packaging can do more than just connect consumers to the beverage. Thanks to advances in technology, it can also connect them to brands.
PepsiCo engaged its consumers through its Mountain Dew “DEWnited States Collection,” featuring 50 unique labels — one for each state. Each label was connected to the brand’s website, which consumers accessed by scanning it and entering a code. It also crossed the state off of the consumer's list. Each state featured a unique video, and consumers entering codes for all 50 states received a $100 prepaid card.
Some packaging interactions are more involved than a simple video. Augmented reality allows users to engage with the company in a new dimension through interactive digital content activated with personal smartphones.
Crown Holdingshas an entire division devoted to smart technologies. Beam said the company is in multiple talks to bring its new AR technology onto shelves. It was designed to let consumers access additional online content, as well as interact with brands on a variety of platforms. Consumers need to scan a code located underneath a can's opening tab — which requires a beverage to be purchased and opened before it can be activated. Consumer experience can vary depending on the kinds of applications the manufacturers use. Beam said this technology will give companies accessto valuable data from their consumers, including purchase locationfrequency. It will also let companies design social marketing campaigns linked directly to a company's online content, rather than vying for attention on mainstream social media channels.
Tetra Pak also has several pilot programs in the United States with augmented reality package technology, Gonçalves said.
“We’re exploring different technologies that enable consumers to scan that code and then generate some sort of activation. That activation could drive campaigns that lead to rewards or prizes … or even enable you to donate money or time to causes,” he said.
Chafin said as this technology becomes more mainstream, interactive labels are expected to become a more common addition to packaging. They provide an opportunity for brands to increase in-store presence without spending more money to increase shelf space.
On-the-go requires sustainable disposability
Today, consumers are becoming more and more likely to eat and drink while moving. According to Mintel, more than a third of consumers (36%) are interested in packaging that allows food to be eaten out and about.
This demand drove the development of "squeezie" pouches. Once associated with infants, squeezable pouches have proven to be popular with adults as these flexible packages are designed to have resealable, wide-mouth openings that consumers can easily suck the product through. Happy Family Brands, which produces SHINE Organics for adults, as well as NOKA, Munk Pack oatmeal and Stonyfield Organic smoothies have all found followings for their portable beverage packaging.
Pouches are not the only way that manufacturers are reimagining on-the-go beverage packages. Paper cartons, especially in the water category, have made a big splash in the industry.
Packaged water is a category that caters mainly to busy consumers looking for convenient hydration. According to Nielsen data, the water category grew 6% from 2017 to 2018.
But since most water is traditionally packaged in plastic bottles, environmental concerns are mounting.
Containers and packaging make up the largest portion of the municipal solid waste Americans generate — about 30%. As a result, companies are looking for more ways todecrease their contribution to landfills.
Sustana Fiber, which produces the only 100% post-consumer recycled fiber in North America that is FDA-compliant for all use in food packaging, has made sustainability its focus above all else. The company has worked with large brands like Starbucks to create closed-loop reusability initiatives demonstrating how its paper to-go cups can be recycled and remade into new ones.
“As consumers become more aware and demanding transparency into supply chain decisions, simply being 'recyclable' is no longer enough," Sustana Vice President of Sales and Marketing Renee Yardley said in an email. "True efficiency is achieved only when products are able to be recovered, recycled and turned into new products that are sold on the market, and recycled again,”
Tetra Pak is also focused on sustainability in its packaging innovations. Gonçalves said that the company is working to convert all of its straws into paper. It is also highlighting the Tetra Prisma aseptic packaging, which is made mainly from paper from renewable sources.
“In the past, it was very common to say the package would sell the product itself,…but today is a little bit different. It is a combination of all these aspects that deliver the promise of what the consumer expects.”
Vice president of North American marketing, Tetra Pak
Beyond simply being sustainable, the Prisma packaging also allows for 360-degree printing for brands to make a statement about their product while also providing all the necessary consumer information — like nutrition labels, certifications and functional claims.
Does any of it make a difference?
“If you talk with 10 different marketers, they might have 10 different answers,” said Gonçalves.
He said the beverage product itself will still be the consumer’s primary consideration. However, “the package you’re going to choose will have an effect on that,” he said.
If a package is convenient and adequately protects the beverage, there is room to play with the packaging. When companies choose to innovate,Gonçalves explained product quality must always be at the forefront of the conversation. The packaging should speak through its label, shape, size, decorations and engagement so the values of the company stand out, and persuade consumers to pick a product up off the shelf.
“In the past, it was very common to say the package would sell the product itself, …but today is a little bit different," Gonçalves said. "It is a combination of all these aspects that deliver the promise of what the consumer expects.”
Article top image credit: Tetra Pak
Why reusable food packaging has a promising future
Consumers are looking for both convenience and sustainability, and companies are responding with containers, bottles and bags designed for many uses.
While some may point the finger at plastics, Tim Debus, president and CEO of the Reusable Packaging Association, said that “the real root evil of the pollution is not material based. It’s disposability.”
Since the introduction of plastics into the CPG space, explained Debus, manufacturers have opted for more and more single-use packaging for its ability to reduce shipping costs. Single-use plastic packaging is also an option that promotes convenience, something that consumers have progressively wanted more of over the decades.
All of this, however, comes at the expense of sustainability.
Demand for conveniently packaged options continues today, but consumers have increasing sustainability concerns. As a result,retailers and manufacturers have spent years searching for alternatives that reduce the quantity of waste sent to landfills. From minimizing the amount of glass used in each bottle to switching to compostable bioplastic, packaging innovations are nothing new. What is new is the desire to combine sustainability with reusability.
“When you give the average person the choice between the most convenient option and the most sustainable options, more often than not, the more convenient option wins.”
Vice president of global business development, Loop
In searching for an innovative method to provide consumers with sustainable yet convenient packaging options, companies including Tyme Fast Food and TerraCycle's Loop program, as well as retailers including PCC Community Markets have reimagined packaging as something reusable rather than disposable.
Reusable containers benefit the planet and companies' bottom lines. The World Economic Forum reports plastic packaging waste represents an annual loss to the global economy of $80 billion to $120 billion. Reusable options not only help alleviate that cost burden, but consumers are also willing to pay more to help solve the sustainability problem.
A new consumer culture?
A report from Packaged Facts shows households headed by adults younger than 25 are 29% more likely to consume microwaveable dinners and 26% more apt to eat frozen breakfast entrees or sandwiches. Millennials, according to a report by UBS Investment Bank, are expected to drive fooddelivery sales up from $35 billion in 2018 to $365 billion worldwide in 2030.
Consumers' preference for convenience hasgenerated tons of trash as pre-packaged and delivery options become the norm. At the same time, these consumers don't want to create waste.
To solve this dilemma, companies including Procter & Gamble, Nestlé, PepsiCo, Unilever and The Body Shop have signed onto initiatives that make reusable packaging convenient.
“When you give the average person the choice between the most convenient option and the most sustainable options, more often than not, the more convenient option wins,” Loop’s vice president of global business development Toni Rossi said.
Rather than combat human nature and work to convince consumers that a little sacrifice now will pay off in the long run, Loop plays into the consumer search for an "easy" button, Rossi said.
“It’s a model of reusability, but it acts like single use. We’re not asking the consumer to do anything different than they would today,” he said.
Loop is an online delivery service where customers select their products and pay for the order(including a fully-refundable deposit on the reusable jars) and wait for it to be delivered in a reusable tote. Shipping is free after seven items are ordered. When the product is used up, customers replace the jars in the tote and wait for UPS to pick up their used containers and deliver their replacement order.
“We’ve made sustainability irresistible,” said Rossi.
Reusable packaging is not just irresistible when it lands on a doorstep. Henry Simonds, the co-founder of Tyme Fast Food, said that reusability is all about reframing the conversation around packaging. Simonds asked himself a question when he started the company.
“How do youdo (sustainable food delivery)in a way that sort of finds a great alternative that’s not going to sacrifice on food taste and convenience and price, but delivers a product that has a seriously positive impact on people and planet?” Simonds said.
His answer was to offer plant-based meals in a reusable plastic jar.
Simonds said the intent was to have customers return empty jars to Tyme for sanitization and reuse by the company. Tyme gave $1 off new purchases when customers returned jars, which resulted in an 80% return rate. It quickly became evident the jars were appealing for reuse in other ways. From storing change to packing homemade lunches, Instagram showcases the multitude of uses for Tyme’s lunch jars.
One of the more interesting uses is the transformation of these lunch containers into plant containers. Tyme started this initiative, sending soil and seeds along with some lunch deliveries to encourage creative reuse.
“We were trying to do what we could to make them used to the best of their ability as well,” said Simonds.
Reusability isn’t free
Despite reusable packaging's obvious benefit of keeping tons of garbage out of landfills, there are some challenges associated with creating reusable packages, not the least of which is the expense.
For companies participating in Loop's program, including Procter & Gamble and Nestlé (both founding investors) — along with PepsiCo, Unilever, Mars, Clorox, The Body Shop, Coca-Cola European Partners, Mondelez and Danone, purchasing a new mold to make a custom package from stainless steel can cost anywhere from $250,000 to $500,000, explained Rossi.
That investment, although initially steep, pays off in time. Compared to a disposable plastic container, Loop containers are environmentally neutral after three uses, according to lifecycle research done by the company. After seven uses, the reusable container has 74% less impact on the environment than a disposable one.
"We've made sustainability irresistible."
Vice president of global business development, Loop
Monetarily, the more frequently the containers are used, the lower their cost per use. Although Rossi said that the point at which a Loop container becomes cheaper is different for every manufacturer, Loop containers are viable for approximately 100 uses, so a $3 container would cost three cents per use. A plastic container can cost anywhere from 13 to 30 cents a piece.
Reaching those economies of scale, however, takes buy-in on the part of companies and consumers — something that Simonds said requires the deep pockets and established infrastructure of CPG titans.
Even for companies with the wherewithal to make the change, switching supply chains and creating a method to receive and sanitize used containers takes commitment.
When it comes to sanitizing containers for reuse, there are many details that need to be met.Ensuring that a container previously filled with nuts is safe to use around someone with a severe allergy required significant attention to cleaning processes, Rossi said. Loop addressed this concern by sanitizing its containers with a similar technology that is used to sterilize medical devices and meets FDA standards.
Simonds also said sanitizing the jars was of paramount concern when Tyme chose to pursue reusable containers for their fast food concept due to cross-contamination potential. Similar to Loop, the fast food company chose to use a sterilization process that meets FDA sanitization standards and wipes allergens clean from the containers.
Another concern revolves around the packaging that the containers are transported in. Today's grocery shopping experience uses lots of plastic bags and cardboard boxes. However, both containers contribute to the waste problem.
Rossi said designing the bag Loop containers arrive in was one of the top challenges associated with making completely reusable packaging. On one hand, the material needed to be durable and reusable, but on the other, it needed to be collapsible for those who lived in small spaces and didn't want a Loop tote to be a new piece of furniture. The resulting fabric tote is easy to clean and offers enough protection and insulation with its compartmental design. Loop does not need to use any additional packing materials like bubble wrap to protect the reusable jars inside.
The question of shopping bags was particularly pressing for Seattle's PCC Community Markets. In 2007, the cooperative completely switched to reusable shopping bags. In an interview in June 2019, prior to the pandemic, Brenna Davis, the store's vice president of social and environmental responsibility, said that 50% of their shoppers used reusable bags. The store still offered paper bags for those who forget, and also sold cloth totes or durable plastic bags for shoppers starting their reusable bag collection.
“I think it takes time to get the customer or the shopper in the habit of bringing their reusable bags," she said. However, once the habit is formed, she said it adds to customer experience.
"They want to find ways to have less packaging and less plastic and this is a really easy way to do that," Davis said. "...It makes them part of the solution to our really complex environmental problems.”
Reusable shopping bags are just one piece of the puzzle, although Davis said it's a "key piece." From the deli to the center aisles to products that are received by PCC Markets, plastic abounds, she said. Although Davis explained that removing plastics from the markets will be a long, slow process, the co-op grocery store chain is "actively working" to further reduce plastic in their stores and PCC Markets has committed to removing petroleum-based plastics in its deli by 2022.
Reusability is not just for consumers
Reusability is more visible on the consumer side. However, Debus said, switching to reusable materialsmay actually be more impactful for manufacturers.
Exchanging the disposable pallets, boxes and shipping containers coming through factory floors daily would make a significant difference.
“From a per weight basis that’s where you could really minimize the amount of solid waste that’s being distributed in the supply chain,” Debus said.
Not only would reusable packaging cut down on trash, but it would also help protect the quality of products and streamline the supply chain. This is extremely important for produce like strawberries, said Debus. He explained replacing stacked, corrugated cardboard boxes with durable plastic containers would help prevent crushing the produce and allow for additional airflow to keep the fruit chilled and mold-free.
“You can actually build a reusable plastic container that not only has the strength and durability to move perishable cargo through the supply chain and better protect that … but you can actually mold the container to have better ventilation patterns to maximize the airflow,” said Debus.
“I’m a believer that the concept has so many advantages to it in customer satisfaction, waste elimination (and) cost savings. At the end, these ideas will converge and the scale is going to be there. People are going to realize that at the end of the day, this just makes great business sense.”
President and CEO, Reusable Packaging Association
Getting reusable packaging to become the dominant choice in a company’s supply chain or for consumer packaging will require companies to consider packaging as part of the product and not an afterthought, Debus said.
Will America ever get on board?
In other parts of the world, reusable packaging is the norm. However, the United States is not especially equipped to encourage reusable packaging, said Angie Slaughter, vice president of sustainability procurement at AB InBev.
“I think we’re unique in the U.S. that we don’t have the infrastructure, we don’t have the buy-in from the consumer, but I do think that there’s interest,” she said.
AB InBev has reusable glass beer bottles and kegs in Canada and is looking at piloting reusable bottles in the U.S. in the future.
In Canada, infrastructure for bottle returns exist and is a thriving industry. With bottle bills that encourage consumers to return bottles to the manufacturer for a monetary reward to the government requiring manufacturers to pay to recycle its packaging (the payment varies from province to province) recycling rates in Canada far outpace those of the United States. Return rates for glass bottles in Canada average about 80%, while the U.S. only offers bottle bills in 10 states.
Simonds said that it's not just policy and infrastructure hindering the development of reusablepackaging. There continues to bea hesitation on the part of consumers that limits reusability. The majority of that hesitation comes from the lack of convenience associated with reusability. Once the two competing interests merge, however, Simonds believes that sustainable packaging will become more prevalent.
Without the infrastructure to make returnable and reusable containers easy to circulate through the supply chain and cost presenting a financial barrier to the company being able to provide its own return system, Tyme is reconsidering its packaging as it expands. Going forward as an e-commerce platform, Simonds said that the food will be sent in compostable containers.
Even though the idea is nascent in the U.S., Rossi said that today’s market is starting to exert external motivation onto CPG companies to look into new, more sustainable forms of packaging.
“They’re motivated to do this. They know they need to change," Rossi said. "They have corporate mandates that say they must.”
Although many companies are indeed bound by corporate sustainability pledges, reusable packaging is one of many methods to address sustainability concerns. Debus maintains it is the most logical choice for the company and the environment.
“I’m a believer that the concept has so many advantages to it in customer satisfaction, waste elimination (and) cost savings," he said. "At the end, these ideas will converge and the scale is going to be there. People are going to realize that at the end of the day, this just makes great business sense.”
Article top image credit: Loop
Vita Coco maker thirsts for aluminum as it enters competitive bottled water space
By: Christopher Doering• Published June 4, 2019
Vita Coco has become well known for its coconut water packaged in a rectangular-shaped cardboard carton. But as consumers increasingly factor sustainability into their buying habits, the beverage maker is turning to the more recycle-friendly aluminum to launch its new premium water.
The idea for its new water brand, Ever & Ever, came after parent All Market partnered with Lonely Whale, an incubator focused on ocean health, to help the company rethink its environmental footprint. With 75% of aluminum ever produced in the U.S. still in use today, according to the Aluminum Association, it made sense for All Market to embrace the metal, especially for a beverage such as water where the popular plastic bottle is not frequently reused.
"We're trying to create intrigue with bottles. It definitely doesn't look like the other water brandsin the category, and that is obviously intentional and our mission is to spike a curiosity with someone," Jane Prior, chief marketing officer at All Market, said. "For consumers who are on the go, live on the go or travel, there is not really a great sustainable option and that was the impetus behind launching the Ever & Ever brand."
The name, which was chosen to reflect the principle of reusing aluminum over and over again, comes in a blue, white and silver bottle. It's covered with text talking about recycling and how the bottle could eventually become a hubcap, wind chimes, another bottle or even a pirate hook in a local production of Treasure Island. It's part of a broader push from All Market to position its portfolio on natural products as not only good for the consumer but the world.
While the packaged water space is "incredibility competitive," Prior said the company's sustainability message with Ever & Ever, the staffing it already has in place for its Vita Coco brand and its existing relationships with retailers allow them to more easily move into new product categories.
"This is one of the reasons we feel we can win and compete in the water space," she said.
Ever & Ever started selling in New York City last year, and online through Amazon before branching into other stores in 2020 after retailers went through their annual reset where they determine which products they carry, Prior said. A 16-ounce bottle will sell for $1.99 each with a 12-pack going for $23.99.
Ever & Ever will be competing in a saturated water space where scores of mainstream and premium brands from big-name and smaller players are battling it out for market share.
Private label was far and away the biggest seller in 2018 with $2.8 billion in sales, followed by Coca-Cola's Dasani and PepsiCo's Aquafina at roughly $1.1 billion, with Nestlé Pure Life in fourth place with $860 million and Glaceau Smartwater at $840 million, according to data from Statista. Other waters on the market include Fiji, Evian, Perrier and CORE, which was purchased by Keurig Dr Pepper for $525 million last September.
With consumers looking to make better choices when it comes to packaging, and the public largely unaware of the near infinite recyclability of aluminum, Prior said the hope is the writing the company places on the bottle could grab the attention of an individual waiting for a subway or bus who starts reading it.
It will also allow All Market to offset the single-use containers of cardboard or plastic bottles used by the company for Vita Coco — coconut water is sensitive to packaging, which can affect the liquid inside, making aluminum an unfeasible option.
"We recognize that we are a single-use packaging business and it is our responsibility to have a point of view and to think about how we can really neutralize our impact," Prior said. "When you think about a category where there are multiple options for consumers to eliminate their plastic consumption, it's definitely the water category."
Bottled water is America's most popular beverage after dethroning soft drinks in 2016. According to Beverage Marketing Corp., U.S. consumption of bottled water skyrocketed 284% between 1994 and 2017, reaching nearly 42 gallons per person each year. Most of that growth comes from single-serve plastic bottles that make up about two-thirds of U.S. sales.
But such packaging comes with big sustainability problems. According to the Ocean Conservancy, plastic beverage bottles are the third most common item washing up on beaches, right after cigarette butts and food wrappers. In addition, producing plastic bottles takes three times the amount of water that's contained inside them, and only about 30% of plastic bottles are recycled.
PepsiCo takes the lead in more sustainable drink packaging
By: Cathy Siegner• Published June 28, 2019
PepsiCo's packaging changes, including putting Aquafina products in aluminum cans for foodservice outlets, only using cans for bubly sparkling water and bottling Lifewtr water products in 100% recycled plastic by the end of 2020, could pay huge environmental dividends.
The beverage giant said these changes will eliminate more than 8,000 metric tons of new plastic and about 11,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions. PepsiCo has the larger goal of all recyclable, compostable or biodegradable packaging by 2025 and using 25% recycled plastic content in all its plastic packaging.
"As one of the world's leading food and beverage companies, we recognize the significant role PepsiCo can play in helping to change the way society makes, uses and disposes of plastics," Ramon Laguarta, chairman and CEO, said in a release.
As a major global user of food-grade recycled polyethylene terephthalate — or PET — PepsiCo's packaging decisions can influence competitors to move toward more sustainable choices. According to Statista, Aquafina was the second-best-selling name brand water in the U.S. in 2018, so switching its signature plastic bottles to aluminum cans is one of the most high-profile cases of a company ditching plastic packaging.
PepsiCo's packaging changes could boost its credibility as a sustainably-minded company, and the move may relieve pressure investors and consumers have brought against manufacturers using a lot of single-use plastics. In 2018, an investor group called the Plastic Solutions Investors Alliance asked PepsiCo, Nestlé, Unilever and others to reveal their annual use of plastic packaging and set reduction goals while switching to recyclable, reusable or compostable packaging when possible.
Other beverage makers are committing to more sustainable packaging. Coca-Cola said in 2018 it planned to collect and recycle the equivalent of 100% of the packaging it sells globally by 2030 as part of a company-wide initiative called "World Without Waste." And Danone's Evian brand committed to making all of its bottles from recycled plastic by 2025.
But aluminum cans are much more recycle-friendly than plastic, which is why smaller water brands such as Vita Coco's Ever & Ever are using them. And this commitment from a big company like Pepsi to use aluminum with its Aquafina brand and fully transition its bubly brand could push other water brands and big companies to take the same steps.
Many food and beverage makers have been working to cut back on plastic and operate more sustainably — goals many consumers want to see them accomplish as part of a broader push toward sustainability. Biodegradable, edible and alternative packaging options are being developed to meet consumer demand and illustrate this commitment. Boxed water also has become popular, with Just Water, Boxed Water, Icebox Water and Rethink Water all offering more environmentally friendly paper-based cartons.
A balance of inputs and outputs will be critical to make these packaging changes work. As sustainability increases, higher costs may follow, and it remains to be seen whether environmentally minded consumers will pay more for water packaged in aluminum cans or 100% recycled plastic. But consumers have indicated they are willing to pay more for sustainable products, and PepsiCo seems to be willing to take that gamble.
Coca-Cola and PepsiCo reduce dependency on plastics with water dispenser systems
By: Jessi Devenyns• Published June 24, 2019
Coca-Cola and PepsiCo are looking past plastic water bottles and launching interactive water coolers that allow customers to choose flavor and carbonation levels of the water that is dispensed into their personal, reusable bottles, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Coca-Cola’s Dasani PureFill station is a concept that was imagined in 2016 and has been piloted on college campuses. The company had plans to expand the system to schools, zoos and aquariums after it was announced in 2019. It comes in a free, chilled water option, which is the most popular. The pricing is 5 cents per ounce for drinks that are flavored and/or carbonated. Payment is accepted via an app, Apple Pay and in some cases, a credit card, according to the business paper.
PepsiCo piloted its system in 2018 and has similar expansion plans to PureFill but also includes hotels, offices and stadiums. The system has six flavors and personalized levels of carbonation and temperature.
In 2016, bottled water surpassed all beverages and became America's favorite drink for the first time. Although a popular packaging option, only about 30% of plastic bottles are currently recycled at a time when consumers and investors alike are asking for greater sustainability from companies.
Even with the environmental concerns associated with bottled water, consumers are showing no signs of slowing their demand for the actual drink itself. As consumers move toward healthier beverage options, water remains an alluring choice as it offers a way to enjoy flavor and fizz without the sugar and calories of soda despite the packaging challenges. Many manufacturers have made significant investments in the segment.
As governments and businesses have started banning single-use plastics, bottled water manufacturers are searching for recycled and alternative packaging. Some are even looking to get rid of packaging altogether. By investing in technology like the new dispensary systems, Coca-Cola and PepsiCo might be on the way to finding a potential solution to balancing the growth in bottled water with the environmental interests of consumers.
Article top image credit: Coca-Cola