I had the intention to write an article about gender packaging. Everywhere (except in Japan, but about that later) you see gender neutral packaging hitting the marketplace. Everybody seems to be so anxious not to show sexism, that it’s getting annoying. Gender packaging enlivens in my opinion the supermarket shelves and, without feeling any sexism, I don’t see why products targeting women can’t have a woman touch in packaging.
Some months ago I wrote a report for a marketing research company and, without realising it, switched to the female consumer when describing a certain packaging. Within a day the editor gave me a slab on the fingers. I had to keep the report gender neutral or I should be typified as a sexist.
But tell me, is there any reasonable thinking person out there, who can explain to me why we have to be gender neutral in packaging and I’m not talking about cosmetics or personal care, but mainly about food and beverages.
But before I could get the thorn of the feminists on me head, I touched on “Chick Beer”. That set my thoughts to beer bottles, of which recently some very interesting and even hi-tech and funny developments have entered the marketplace. I decided to write about the beer bottle first and take the fight about gender-oriented packaging to a next article.
Before we go to the fun, we will have a look at some new technology in beer bottles. First Sidel.
PET beer bottle
Around five billion PET beer bottles are currently sold a year. That sounds quite impressive, but isn’t as it only represents about 2% of the global market, with glass and metal cans as the most widely used alternatives.
Does this mean that PET bottles are not acceptable to the consumer? No, not really. In the first place the right PET bottle as quality alternative to the glass bottle and the metal can has seen the light of the market yet and secondly this (slow) penetration of the market we have also seen in the past with many other food and beverage products that have since increasingly made the switch to PET from other packaging materials, including juices, water, carbonated soft drinks, olive oil and sauces.
But it’s different with beer. PET is PET and consumers don’t trust yet the quality of a good beer in PET bottles. Sidel France claims to have solved the problem by creating a PET bottle that utilises a ‘champagne’ base that is more traditionally found on glass beer bottles. The bottle sports a crown closure that again mirrors those more typically found on premium beer products. It looks like glass, but it’s PET.
According to Sidel it’s the world’s first-ever pasteurisable lightweight PET bottle for beer with a non-petaloid base. We all know, that PET bottles need a petaloid base, to secure the strength of the bottle after filling and cooling.
The so-called Petaloid base is a thick, mostly amorphous centre disk surrounded by five blown feet. Granted as patent to the Continental Can Company in 1971, it caused controversy with 3 other patents and litigation ensued over several years
The bottle is lightweight and has the mechanical properties of PET. Most notably, the new bottle weighs only 28 grams, which is some 86% less than an average equivalent glass bottle, according to Sidel data.
When bottling beer, it is critical to prevent oxygen entering and carbon dioxide escaping the package. The new bottle design can achieve this by using Sidel’s proprietary Actis gas-barrier technology. It’s 330 millilitre version can achieve a six-month shelf life with less than 1 parts-per-million (ppm) of oxygen ingress and less than 17% of carbon dioxide loss.
The bottle can be used for flash or tunnel pasteurised beer, and also micro-filtrated beer. For tunnel-pasteurised beer a PET bottle usually requires a petaloid base, but Sidel’s new bottle has a unique base and other design technologies that mean it can resist the pressures produced by the prolonged high temperatures during this production process, while still retaining the appearance of a more traditional glass bottle. The bottle can withstand pressures of 20 pasteurisation units (PU) in the tunnel, which is standard for lagers, and retains a stable base after pasteurisation. Furthermore, the bottle design can be used on existing tunnel pasteurisers that currently serve glass bottles.
We stay with beer in PET.
Amstel 1 litre PET bottle
Amstel Premium Pilsener, a Heineken brand, is one of the most popular brands in the premium beer segment in Europe. It is targeting men over 30, who appreciate the quality that comes from a slow brewing process and time with friends, far away from the pressures of daily life.
For this brand P.E.T. Engineering developed a 1 litre PET bottle with a premium look recalling the heritage and devotion to excellence of the brew masters since 1870 and, at the same time, creating a convenient bottle for daily consumption at home and outdoors.
The bottle was given a special premium look by means of detailed and glasslike engravings which underline the heritage, the brew master tradition and the Amstel brewery’s year of foundation. These have been aligned with a label design which gives premium status to the product using a gold background representing the high quality by this slow brewed beer.
Before we go to the high-tech fun in beer bottles, let’s just take a look at the latest development of Grolsch. I know it’s not exactly a bottle, but it perfectly fits in this article.
The Jar or ‘Borcanul’
In Romania Grolsch launched a creative new way of drinking beer with the introduction of the Jar or ‘Borcanul’. The Jar elevates Grolsch beer to a premium craft drinking experience as it builds on the popularity of mason-jar presentation in trendy bars and cafes.
The Jar will boost brand long-term loyalty, as consumers are likely to retain and re-use innovative product packaging. Such designs drive repeat purchases and as consumers look to collect a set for their cupboards adopting the stylish, unique design into their glassware.
Market research company Canadean claims that data show that lager drinkers are open to new experiences, with this desire prompting almost 14% of consumption in the lager market. Products that can offer something unique to consumers will benefit, whether this is by flavour innovation or novel packaging.
The choice of Rumania might sound strange, but Canadean found out that Romania is a receptive market for beer innovation since beer commands a 25.6% share of the country’s drinks market by volume, compared with a European average of 12.8%.
Alongside the launch of The Jar or ‘Borcanul’, Grolsch also launched a multipack with seemingly absurd stories on the side targeting communal consumption occasions, which can be deciphered as part of a game with friends.
In my next article we will move to some high-tech fun with beer bottles. And not to forget the “Chick Beer”.