Beverage, packaging and awards

27 April 2018

In September, drinktec 2017 hosted the World Beverage Innovation Awards at Messe München in Munich, Germany. Beverage Packaging Innovation talks to winners from multiple categories, including Best Carton and Best New Beverage Concept, and gives a round-up of this leading industry trade fair.

Drinktec 2017 has become the Olympics of the drinks world. This year, the Munich-based event saw 76,000 investors and 1,600 exhibitors fill Messe München’s 14 halls, where they were treated to innovative products and heard about the latest developments in the drinks business.

The show helps to shape the future trends and direction of the global drinks market, which has plenty of optimism for the future. Many visiting companies that were present at the event are planning to increase their investment over the next year. Production and manufacturing are also core focuses for investment; however, marketing, R&D, distribution, IT and logistics are additional areas that will see a sizeable increase in spending over the coming months.

Predictions and hot topics

Numbers from GlobalData seem to justify such optimism and future investment. The data and anlysis provider has forecast that between 2016 and 2022, the global commercial beverage market will see consumption rates rise by nearly a fifth.

Alcoholic drinks are expected to see an increase in demand of 12%, which will prove beneficial for cans and glass. Carton manufacturers, on the other hand, will be happy to hear that dairy, as well as soy and other milk alternatives, are projected to rise by 15%, while a predicted 22% in growth for soft drink volumes will be a boost for operators across all formats.

German engineering federation the VDMA shared in these positive vibes for beverages, but also acknowledged that a bright future will bring with it extra challenges; success will attract competition and also extreme pricing pressures. This will be compounded by fluctuating energy costs, raw material prices and fast-moving consumer trends. Laws and regulations will increase as well, especially with increased governmental scrutiny around environmental and consumer welfare.

Drinktec identified a number of core topics that generated the most discussion at the event. Improving and maintaining excellent product safety and hygiene standards remained a priority for many stakeholders in the industry, together with the fact that the sector’s prosperity hinges on consumer confidence.

Energy and resource efficiency continued to be a high-profile topic, and was expected to be the event’s leading conversation starter. Enhancements in this area are not only focused on safeguarding money, but also on raising a brand’s integrity among consumers. Being flexible enables operators to reach a bigger audience, and process optimisation preserves resources, helping to widen product margins.

And finally, the internet of things – otherwise known as industry 4.0 – has introduced an industrial evolution, giving rise to the ‘intelligent factories’ of the future.

The World Beverage Innovation Awards

These core talking points were a recurring theme in the innovative products that were on display – and these were the ones that were recognised with industry awards. It is during drinktec that the prestigious World Beverage Innovation Awards were held. The competition was fierce, with the judging panel deliberating more than 227 entries from 33 countries across 25 categories, highlighting what a global event drinktec is. Beverage Packaging Innovation took the opportunity to catch up with some of the packaging winners.

Pernod Ricard’s Absolut Rainbow bottle from Ardagh Group fended off some strong competition to scoop the Best Bottle in Glass Award. This could be attributed to piquing interest in the premium spirits market, which has been very dynamic following the surge in interest for gin and other craft-inspired spirits.

Consumers also continue to associate glass with quality and it remains the mainstay of the lucrative hotel, restaurant and cafe (HORECA) market, as well as the high-end drinks segment.

A very pleased Eric Näf, director packaging development at Pernod Ricard, said, “Absolut Rainbow celebrates the brand’s long-lasting support of the LGBTQ community and, among other celebrations, marks 50 years since the decriminalisation of homosexuality in England and Wales, and really captures the values of the brand.” The bottle’s distinctive rainbow flag uses 100% organic colours and is designed to look newly painted onto the bottle.

“The pride flag is depicted in brush strokes that are intended to convey a ‘handmade’ look, in keeping with the brand’s artistic heritage,” explains Näf.

He also stated how important the classic look of the original Absolut bottle has been.

“The bottle is an iconic piece of packaging and it has a very central role in our communication,” Näf said. “It is the symbol of our brand and is instantly recognised by a lot of people. We try to stay within those limits and deviate as little as possible from the shape of the bottle.”

Absolut Rainbow demonstrates how the brand can work around the ‘classic bottle’ without compromising the instantly recognisable Absolut look. Näf adds, “At Absolut, we try to pair beauty and aesthetics with industrial precedents and scale ups.”

Absolut has shown that it can achieve this and retain enough scope to win the Best Bottle in Glass Award.

PET Engineering walked away with the Best Bottle in PET award for FonteVita, and aspires to dilute the dominance of glass in bars, restaurants and other on-premises outlets. Its product is aimed “at a consumer aged 25–65 who is served by HORECA distribution”, according to a delighted Elisa Zanellato, the company’s marketing and communication manager.

FonteVita is part of the company’s new Luxo line, which has been designed to “exploit the potential of PET to create infinite shapes, decorations and colours at a low cost in terms of the creation of new packaging, and its production, storage and transportation”. Zanellato adds, “The idea for FonteVita was to imitate the deluxe appearance of glass, while still offering a range of added advantages that are welcomed by production departments, including the fact that bottles are unbreakable, lightweight and cost-effective.” In addition to this, the striking bottle has been engineered to stand out, addressing the trend for drinkers to view beverages – and water in particular – as a commodity.

This challenge also faced PepsiCo when it launched the premium bottled water brand LIFEWTR. As the product tastes not too dissimilar to existing premium waters, the packaging and design would determine whether the brand would ‘sink or swim’; based on the company’s award for Best Packaging Design or Label, it is clear that the brand’s future looks bright. PepsiCo’s partnership with up-and-coming artists has seen LIFEWTR transform into a ‘canvas’ for their work. Every bottle is a work of art, justifying its premium price while emphasising the bottles’ contemporary look and feel. To keep the brand cosmopolitan and fresh, three new artists will be recruited every few months. Series two will provide a springboard for female artists from the US and UK.

Awarding new packaging pioneers

Print was behind the winner of the Best Can or Alubottle. The prize went to Island Records for its craft beer range, which beat off plenty of beverage heavyweights in what Glenn Cooper, senior director of business development and strategic partnerships at Universal Music Group, which owns Island Records, called a “David and Goliath” battle. Its cans use a brilliantly simple concept by adding visual Shazam technology onto a can, which connects beer drinkers directly to their favourite music. By doing so, Island Records has successfully married beer with technology that has been only been around for a few years. With Shazam’s visual technology, consumers can be introduced to Island Records’ back catalogue and new artists that make the world-famous label stand out, reinforcing its relevance to music and the crowded craft beer market. However, this pioneering concept has not been straightforward admits Cooper, who adds, “It took a lot of experimenting; we did a lot of tests, and CROWN Bevcan Europe and Middle East were very supportive with that. When we initially spoke to Crown it was something that had not been done before.” The Best New Beverage Concept was awarded to Garçon Wines, which stole the show with its ‘delivering happiness’ idea. The London-based company has managed to break the convention that says good wine need to be packed in a glass bottle. Instead, it harnesses the modern-day need for convenience, enabling busy consumers to receive their favourite treat with a bottle that can be delivered through their letterbox. This groundbreaking packaging has not compromised the standard 75cl wine measure by making bottles longer and thinner. The bottle also bypasses the need for somebody to be at home to receive their delivery, and its stylish secondary packaging turns it into the perfect gift. The company has sought patent protection in 35 countries globally, so keen wine lovers can expect to see this concept roll out across worldwide markets.

When asked what the award means to him, founder Joe Revell said, “Winning the Best New Beverage Concept at the World Beverage Innovation Awards… is a real honour for us, and we feel it is recognition for the international appetite to celebrate and embrace true innovation in the wine industry. Beverage packaging innovation is at the centre of what we do, and this award recognises and rewards us for this. In the coming months, we have some particularly exciting projects planned, working with some large global drinks partners, some of which has been propelled by our success at these international awards.”

Showing how sustainability ought to be done

SIG Combibloc cinched the Best Carton or Pouch Award for its Signature pack. The green credentials of this aseptic carton clearly impressed the judges, demonstrating a clear link to 100% plant-based renewable materials. It also impressed by making use of tullol, which is a residue from the papermaking process. Existing cartons are made up of a solid 82% of renewable ingredients, but Signature stands out for successfully incorporating the missing 18%.

Environment and sustainability concerns continue to be fashionable in the beverage packaging sector, and were key themes during drinktec. Exhibiting good green practices will remain the most influential factor in determining material and process choices for brand-owners and consumers, especially with packaging being on the front line of the battle against climate change. The race to be the greenest is an ongoing process, and the industry will no doubt see more advances in bottles, cans, pouches and cartons. Sustainability and the environment will continue to shape innovation from packaging companies in the years to come, and it will certainly be on government radars.

The biggest achievements

This year’s drinktec event enjoyed record attendance. Dr Reinhard Pfeiffer, managing director of Messe München, said it achieved “an outstanding result. Drinktec has proved itself to be not only the world’s most important innovation platform in the industry, but also the most important investment platform.” He also said, “The cooperation with the wine technology trade fair SIMEI is a tremendous gain.”

This year, this trade fair had its own exhibition space and Pfeiffer was delighted that it encountered an international audience.

SIG Combibloc’s Signature pack won Best Carton or Pouch for its eco-friendly design.
PET Engineering hopes FonteVita and the rest of the Luxo line will make the HORECA market switch to PET bottles.

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