Being healthy on the inside shows on the outside, as packaging showcases the nutritious benefits of juice.

Juices continue to be a popular drink. Together, shelf-stable bottled juices and refrigerated juices and drinks made more than $8.3 billion in 2008 according to Information Resources Inc. (IRI), for the year ending Nov. 2, 2008.

Consumers are turning to juices and juice drinks because the products are seen as healthy and natural, and they expect the packaging to be “good,” too.

Venga’s functional infusions bottle takes a no-nonsense approach at communicating its product benefits with a clear label area coupled with bold print.

From claim to fame

“All Natural.” “100% Juice.” “Pure Premium.” Brands from Tropicana to Juicy Juice have been using these phrases on packaging for years to help them stand out on shelves. And with the rise of consumers looking for organic products, juice packaging needs to constantly point to the product’s healthy, natural benefits.

Geared toward the on-the-go consumer who does not have time to search a label for nutritional information, Venga’s Functional Infusions bottle has a shrink-sleeve label that clearly lists, in black and white, the function of the juice, the fruit flavors inside and the other ingredients included.

“We kept the graphic design clean and the text concise to enable the consumer to see it and in a few seconds recognize the functionality, flavors and key ingredients that make Venga unique,” says Dennies Bergmann, creative founder of Venga and chief executive officer of Beverage Innovations, Europe.

But what other issues do consumers want to be addressed?

“The key packaging issues concern sustainability, functionality, and health and wellness,” says David Morris, research director for food and beverage at Mintel. “Because those issues are important to consumers or are going to become more important, packaging has an important role to play.”

And companies are responding, especially on the sustainability side. During the first six months of 2008, environmentally friendly juice packs doubled, according to a report from Mintel.

One example is Noble Juice’s all-natural lemonade and blood orange and tangerine cranberry juices, which are matched with packaging that’s just as much a part of nature as the juice itself. In April, Noble Juice released its juice nationwide in its E-Bottle, made from Natureworks’ 100% all-natural polylactic acid (PLA), an alternative to polyethylene terephthalate (PET). The bottle is both biodegradable and compostable.

Given the recent criticism of the bottled water industry and its use of PET bottles, as well as that same criticism spilling over into other beverage arenas, Noble Juice is setting an example and encouraging juice companies to stand up and lead juice packaging into the next sustainable wave beyond PET.

Ocean Spray’s BarPac bottles work well with its new Cranergy and Ruby Red energy fruit juices, which function as cocktail mixers, storing neatly in a bar without having to transfer contents from one package to another.

The function junction

Of course, the first issue regarding sustainability is to have a package that does not waste its contents. Whether this is by keeping a product fresh or easily and smoothly dispensing a product, not even the smallest percentage of the product should be spilled or thrown away.

Ocean Spray, already known for its uniquely-shaped closures that cater to the demographics of children and seniors with their ease of opening and sealing, has further developed the easy-open packaging to meet a whole new demographic: the bar crowd.

“Ocean Spray works to stay ahead of the latest trends to assist restaurants and bars in creating versatile beverage solutions that meet the needs of every palate,” says Keith Benoit, director special markets at Ocean Spray.

Ocean Spray’s line of energy juice drinks, Cranenergy, uses Ocean Spray’s BarPac bottles, which are customized for foodservice operators and easy to open, pour and store.

Another innovation that saves both time and energy is the redesign on PepsiCo’s Tropicana Pure Premium orange juice bottle.

The newly designed packaging throws away the traditional screw cap, opting for an injection-molded flip-top closure from Bapco Closures over a foil seal. The bottle, developed by Graham Packaging, functions like a pitcher, allowing customers to open and pour with ease and minimize or eliminate spillage.

Away from the plastic bottle

While some companies are redesigning or slightly reducing the amount of plastic in a bottle, others are making extreme material cuts or changing materials altogether.

Concentrates have become quite popular in the beverage arena as a whole, particularly with stick packs and energy shots. This holds true for juice, too.

XanGo’s Mangosteen supplement, originally packaged in a glass bottle that won the Glass Packaging Institute’s 2008 Clear Choice Award in the non-carbonated beverages segment, is being sold in 1-ounce portions in portable, single-serve pouches that come in 30-packs. The smart thing about this method of packaging is that its uniqueness and portability allow for easy distribution and introduction to a large crowd of consumers, since it can be handed out with ease. It also greatly reduces material.

Then there’s the “reuse” factor. Honest Tea’s juice pouches, geared toward children, can be collected after product consumption and sent to any one of 500 collection sites. Schools are encouraged through programs to send in their used pouches, where they will be gathered and made into pencil cases and bags. Since Honest Tea gives 2 cents for each pouch sent back, the program is a good way to teach kids about environmental responsibility.

A single-serve product that uses glass to differentiate and target a more adult market is found in First Blush’s line of grape juices. The juice, which is made from wine grapes and high in antioxidants, comes in four varieties: cabernet, chardonnay, merlot and syrah. It is sold in tall, slim glass bottles, reminiscent of wine bottles and appealing to the wine drinker. The print is minimal and classy, appealing to the adult consumer who wants the health benefits of wine without the alcohol and while on the go.

To respond to increasing popularity of vegetable juice products,Campbell Soup Co. redesigned its V8 and V-Fusion 12-ounce packaging with a customhot-fill PET bottle that can be sold in vendingmachines and on retail shelves.

Vendable vegetables

Health benefits and portability are also being mirrored on the vegetable beverage side, which is growing. According to a Mintel report, there was an increase in the number of products with different vegetables, such as tomatoes and carrots, in 2008. Consumers will soon be able to get their vegetables, no matter where they are or what they’re doing.

In September, Campbell Soup Co., in collaboration with Coca-Cola as a distributor, launched its line of V8 vegetable juices to be sold out of 15,000 vending machines in schools, malls, offices, hospitals and hotels. And the juices have the packaging to match. The company is redesigning packaging for its V8 and V-Fusion 12-ounce lines with a custom hot-fill PET bottle from Amcor PET Packaging. The redesigned bottle is more portable and easier to grip, as well as more pleasing to the eye.

“After working with The Coca-Cola Co. to determine specific vending requirements for the packages, we partnered with Amcor to take advantage of their Imagine process,” says Jason Tiefenback, senior packaging engineer with Campbell Soup Co. “This allowed us to design and develop a container that not only looks and feels good, but also performs at the manufacturing level.”

According to Tiefenback, the benefit of working on a design directly with the bottle manufacturer is that, not only are they experts on physically manufacturing the containers, but they understand the precise filling environment.

Amcor PET Packaging
Bapco Closures Ltd.
011-44-1483-243-310 (UK);
Graham Packaging Co.
Natureworks LLC

WEB EXCLUSIVE: Probiotic sipping in a snap

These days, everyone is concerned with getting their probiotics. Why shouldn’t they be? These good bugs help to prevent colon cancer, lower blood pressure and control lactose intolerance and digestion.

While turning to yogurt, cheese or dietary supplemental pills to get their daily dosage is the common trend today, a simple packaging change can now meet one’s probiotic needs and bring added value to a package.

Australian-based Unistraw has created a drinking straw that stores and delivers probiotics when used to drink a beverage. This can give juice marketers something extra to offer consumers, and increase shelf differentiation.

Here’s how the straw works: Dry, stable beads containing probiotics are stored within the straw and are held by filters on each end. The beads dissolve when liquid is sipped through the straw.

“We developed the new system based on increasing consumer demand for convenience, health and wellbeing, choice and taste-in a format that’s compatible with busy and increasingly mobile lifestyles,” says Tim York, managing director at Unistraw.

Tetra Pak has already signed an agreement with the company for an on-pack probiotic drinking straw.

Tetra Pak
+61-2-8303-5500 (Australia);

WEB EXCLUSIVE: Increasing juice shelf life

Can adding an aluminum barrier layer increase juice shelf life? A team of Spanish researchers believe so, according to an article published in theJournal of Food Quality.

The researchers from the University Miguel Hernandez in Alicante and the San Antonio Catholic University in Murcia evaluated four different containers for storing mandarin juice and found that cartons with an inner layer of aluminum foil guarantee product quality the most.

According, the researchers said that the juices were processed under aseptic packaging and thermal treatment of pasteurization, packaged in three different non-transparent plastic containers and one transparent container, and were refrigerated.

Juice A’s and B’s containers were made of different amounts of paperboard, polyethylene and aluminum foil, respectively; Juice C’s container was made of paperboard, polyethylene and ethylene vinyl alcohol copolymers; and Juice D was put in bottles made of polyethylene terephthalate (PET). The team analyzed the juice samples at various intervals between zero and 90 days and concluded that juices C and D presented significantly higher oxygen concentrations than juices A and B.

According to the researchers, the results proved that carton structure is important in determining degradation of the orange color of the juices, causing them to conclude that carton A performed the best of all four packages.