A two compartment package – with the bottom container snapping into the base of the larger top bottle – is being used to launch a disruptive new portable, shelf-stable cocktail line. Called the Clasper™ bottle, the innovative package development was driven by brand owner Yumix’s desire to give adult consumers a great tasting cocktail that they could mix themselves anywhere, anytime.
The Clasper bottle, engineered by Plastic Technologies Inc. (PTI, plastictechnologies.com), is a combination of two polyethylene terephthalate (PET) containers and a shrink label. The bottom holds 50 ml of premium alcohol and features a heat-applied aluminum-foil seal. The main bottle holds 6.5 ounces of hot-filled, shelf-stable juice and is topped by a 38 mm polypropylene closure. Added visual appeal is provided by shrink-label graphics which also include usage instructions.
To use, the consumer simply separates the shrink sleeve at the seam between the top and bottom containers, via a perforation, unsnaps the bottom container from the base of the primary bottle, removes the heat seal and closure from the bottom and top components respectively, and pours the alcohol into the juice. Instant cocktail.
The Clasper bottle concept is the brainchild of Yumix founder Alex Garner. After having gained experience working with fresh juices for a major beverage company, it occurred to him that adding alcohol to those juices would be a perfect companion for adults on a warm day. Portability, as well as taking the guesswork out of cocktail mixing and achieving a great flavor profile, every time, were just some of the objectives.
“I knew from my experience that if we tried to premix the juice and alcohol, the enzymes in the juice would quickly alter the taste. You would then have to add preservatives and sweetener, which would alter the flavor profile. That’s not what we wanted to do and that’s why we expended significant effort to develop the right package. The end result has been driven by our quality goals,” Garner explains.
He quickly discovered that an “off-the-shelf” packaging solution for what he wanted to achieve did not exist. That’s when he turned to PTI, a global leader in helping brand owners develop plastic packaging solutions.
“Alex came to PTI with the concept and challenged us to create a bottle for Yumix that would be commercially viable and function in the intended way,” Tracy Momany, VP of product development group, PTI says. “The most technically challenging part was getting the components to snap together and stay together, further complicated by the 185 degrees Fahrenheit hot-fill requirements.”
The base of the top bottle is highly susceptible to deformation during hot fill. It’s further complicated by the larger than typical headspace that was necessary to accommodate the alcohol pour after purchase. The large head space increases the vacuum in the package significantly, putting stress on the bottle.
PTI needed to come up with the right geometry and bottle weight to keep the dimensions within the appropriate tolerances so that the snap fit was consistently achieved, but yet have the containers be easily separable by the consumer. Ribs, instead of vacuum panels, were used to add the necessary structural stability without compromising the aesthetics. The top and bottom bottle shapes flow together aesthetically; the graphics of the label highlight the existence of two unique packages.
“Creating the bottom alcohol-container container was also challenging because it is so short and wide relative to the size of the 20mm finish. A tiny preform had to be developed from which to blow the bottle,” Momany says.
The end result is a bottle with a sporty, but chic look that gives consumers a lot of flexibility in how they choose to enjoy the beverage.
“We want it to resonate with consumers as ‘cool, clever, modern and premium’,” Garner explains. “Although the package is shelf stable, most will choose to refrigerate it before consuming for a refreshing experience. It also gives consumers added safety of being able to mix their own drink, without guessing at the alcohol content. This helps support responsible drinking.”
Yumix entered soft launch distribution in Texas with three flavors – strawberry lemonade with vodka, cosmopolitan with vodka and pink grapefruit with vodka. The brand offers consumers a 12- to 18-month shelf life. Plans are underway to grow the line with additional flavors. National distribution is planned for 2017.