Form that enhances function is the new mantra in bottling circles. For food and beverage companies that use bottles and jars, functional design attributes such as gripability, reclosability, on-the-go portability and ease of heating and serving head the list of desirable features.
Changing lifestyles and demographics are fueling the trend. "The increase of independent children and teens living in dual working households, millennials on the go and the aging baby boomer generation all contribute to the need for easy-to-manipulate packaging that safely holds, preserves, protects and dispenses the products," says Paul Tay, food and non-alcoholic beverages marketing manager at O-I (www.o-i.com), Perrysburg, Ohio.
Tay adds, "As our society becomes more mobile and independent, the majority of our food [and] beverage companies are asking for ergonomic glass packaging that is easy to use and resealable, with clean, efficient product dispensing."
For example, Bookbinder Specialties (www.bookbinderspecialties.com), Media, Pa., chose glass jars for its new line of all-natural gourmet vegetable soups. Not only do the packages convey quality but they also provide more functionality than cans or plastic containers.
In focus groups, Bookbinder learned consumers value resealability and portion control in soup packaging. Therefore, for its new soups, which include flavors such as Sweet Burgundy Onion and Butternut Squash & Mushroom, the company chose reclosable 15-oz. glass jars from O-I.
Like cans, the jars offer a wide mouth for easy dispensing of the chunky soups. But in contrast to cans, the jars are compatible with microwave cooking. This saves time and mess, as it's not necessary to transfer the soup to a microwave-safe cooking dish.
Similarly, unused product can be stored in the jar, eliminating the need for a storage container. And the jars are transparent, so consumers can see the product before buying and monitor how much is left in the package while it's in the refrigerator.
TummyTickler gets a grip
In the beverage category, In Zone Brands Inc. (www.inzonebrands.com), Smyrna, Ga., redesigned the packaging for its TummyTickler children's drinks to make the bottle smaller and easier for little hands to grip. The redesign also makes the bottle's shape more like the one used for In Zone's other brands, BellyWashers and TummyTickler Tots.
Zone Brands Inc. redesigned the packaging for its TummyTickler children's drinks to make them easier for little hands to grip and a smaller portion size. (click image to enlarge)
TummyTickler is made for preschool children, and the new 6-oz. TummyTickler bottle (down from 8 oz.) meets the American Academy of Pediatrics' recommended serving size for the target market.
The high-density polyethylene bottle also was made smaller "in response to consumer feedback from moms that the bottle size was too large for [their] children," says Traci Strom, senior manager of public relations and communications at In Zone. "We enhanced the ergonomic grip at the 'waist' of the bottle to better serve small hands."
The brand owner consulted with Goodwin Design Group (www.goodwindesigngroup.com), Wallingford, Pa., to execute the TummyTickler redesign and to revise package graphics across In Zone's product portfolio.
The easier-to-grip feature of the redesigned TummyTickler bottle augments the dispensing functionality that was already built into In Zone's packaging. "Our no-spill, no-mess packaging closures are a central part of our products, as they solve one of the biggest pain points of children's beverages," Strom says, referring to "all the frustration of leaky straws, spurting pouches and sloshing bottles and cups.
"BellyWashers has a mess-free, push-pull sport cap which is convenient for grade-school kids on the go," she continues. "The TummyTickler and TummyTickler Tots spout is a proprietary design. It contains a one-way silicone valve that is truly spill-proof, effectively acting as a sippy cup for younger children transitioning into 'big kid' cups."
Processors of premium milk products have an innovative new bottling option: the Tetra Evero Aseptic carton bottle. The package combines a carton body with an injection-molded top and cap. The molding system, which fuses and seals the carton sleeve, plastic cap and plastic top, is integrated with the filler.
The ergonomically designed carton bottle incorporates flat side panels that purportedly make it easier to grip. The package's shape aids in pouring, as well.
Tetra Pak International SA (www.tetrapak.com), Lausanne, Switzerland, developed and markets the shelf-stable one-liter package, which launched commercially in Europe this year.
Spain's Corporación Alimentaria Peñasanta chose the carton bottle for a new line of value-added dairy products marketed under the Asturiana brand name. The product family includes Asturiana Jalea Vital, which combines milk, royal jelly and vitamin B6; Asturiana Fibra, which is milk with fiber; and Asturiana Naturcol, which is milk with vegetal sterols added.
German dairy Weihenstephan also is using the carton bottle, for its Alpenmilch milk products. Additional processors in Western Europe are in various stages of deploying the package.
Tetra Pak has not yet set a date for launching the carton bottle in the U.S., but it reports strong interest from markets in Eastern Europe and South America.
Toppers — molded high-impact polystyrene figures — are attached to the closures to add an element of fun to the packaging. The toppers depict licensed characters such as Superman and Strawberry Shortcake. The bottles and toppers can be washed in the dishwasher and reused.
Wine bottle brings its own glass
A clever single-serving bottle design for Vino Solo wines offers functional benefits for outward-bound drinkers and for concessionaires at venues where glass packaging is discouraged, such as ball parks. The two Vino Solo varietals, merlot and chardonnay, are positioned as premium-quality wines.
Vino Solo's 187-ml, polyethylene terephthalate bottle incorporates a polystyrene wine flute attached to the closure and inverted over the bottle. The configuration minimizes the package's size, providing shipping and storage efficiencies.
Philadelphia-based wine importer and producer KDM Global Partners LLC (www.kdmglobalpartners.com) collaborated with Singlz International Ltd. (www.singlz.com), of Auckland, New Zealand, to bring the bottle-and-flute combo to North America, Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean. Vino Solo launched in the U.S. several months ago.
KDM plans to make the package available for custom-label wines as well as the Vino Solo brand, and Singlz reportedly is developing versions of the bottle-and-flute package for non-alcoholic drinks and non-wine alcoholic beverages.
The U.S. launch of Vino Solo initially targeted on-premise customers such as hotels, theaters, convention centers and cruise ships and sports venues. The brand currently is served at three Major League Baseball parks.
By combining the flute with the bottle, Vino Solo simplifies operations for concessionaires and foodservice operators. "For on-premise accounts, Vino Solo offers unprecedented service efficiencies and margin-generating capabilities: cash control, inventory control and quicker, more profitable beverage service," says Jonathan Gelula, KDM's president.
KDM also is rolling out a three-pack retail version of Vino Solo. For retail consumers, the primary package's resistance to breakage and incorporation of drinkware make it an appealing choice for away-from-home and outdoor sipping. "The Vino Solo three-packs are very handy products for home barbecues, boating, camping or any other 'on-the-go' purpose," Gelula says.
Stylish and functional
Effen Vodka, a super-premium brand owned by Beam Global Spirits & Wine Inc. (www.beamglobal.com), Deerfield, Ill., uses a bottle design that combines good looks with practical benefits, such as ease of use.
The tall, slender, 750-ml glass bottle is decorated with a rubber sleeve that covers the bottom two-thirds of the bottle. In addition to providing an eye-catching finish for the package, the sleeve also makes the bottle easier to grip, wet or dry.
Effen Vodka comes in several flavors, including Black Cherry, Dutch Raspberry and, most recently, Cucumber. The rubber sleeve is color-coordinated to the flavor — for example, green for Cucumber and white for unflavored Effen.
The brand owner consulted with professional bartenders to create the package design. Because it "was created by bartenders for bartenders, we were able to gain valuable insights into creating a bottle that is not only stylish, but also functional," says Kim Washington, senior director, rums and vodkas, at Beam Global. "The rubber sleeve is a perfect example of this collaboration."
The sleeve "makes pouring cocktails easier for both those behind the bar and at home," Washington adds. "Not only does the rubber sleeve ensure that the bottle never slips out of your hand while pouring, it also acts as an insulator. Once chilled, the rubber sleeve will not only prevent the bartender's hand from becoming cold but also protect the liquid from getting warm."