FLEXIBLE PACKAGING 2014: TRANSPARENCY BREAKTHROUGH, CLOSURE ADVANCES

Should RTD teas pounce on pouches? Analyst says ‘Yes!’

Astropaq pouches...Joe Pryweller, senior packaging analyst at The Freedonia Group, believes pouches could be posting faster global growth in RTD drinks

RTD teas provide undeveloped opportunities for flexible packaging, but brand owners must look long term rather than expect short-term penetration, one analyst believes.

Yesterday Joe Pryweller, senior packaging analyst at business research company The Freedonia Group, gave BeverageDailly.com insight into how pouches are performing in the US beer category. Today he turns his attention to non-alcoholic drinks and recent technical advances in pouch design.

“Globally, the trend towards RTD beverages in pouches could be growing faster,” Pryweller said, noting Orangina Schweppes Group’s May 2013 Oasis juice brand launch in France and Belgium using Ecolean pouches with air-filled handles, and Gatorade’s continued pre-eminence with its Prime pouch.

“However, in the tea category, outside of niche products, pouches offer an opportunity that still needs to be developed. The conversion of a major brand owner could drive this but it offers more long-term prospects than short-term penetration,” he said.

‘Tipping points for potential growth’

Pryweller said The Freedonia Group – he also works with packaging analysts Joe Iorillo and Esther Palevsky – had not discovered any prominent ‘industry changing’ applications for beverage pouches in the six months since this website’s 2013 special edition article on the topic, where we quoted Iorillo in one article.

“That said, there are a number of interesting developments in less noticeable areas – including fitments, shapes and materials that could affect beverage packaging for flexible and pouches,” he said.

“These could help be a tipping point for potential growth and changes,” Pryweller added.

We asked Pryweller for his views on a patent application filed by Polymer Packaging Inc. (PPI) in April 2011 covering a pouch partially made of transparent plastic (see drawing accompanying filing above) to ensure that the beverage inside is visible.

‘Unique’ transparent cocktail shaker-shaped pouch

The design in question has contoured (convex and concave) sides, with the pouch designed to look like a cocktail shaker, which Pryweller describes as “a nice marketing touch that could help differentiate the product on the shelf for the fun-loving consumer looking to take an alcoholic beverage to the beach, picnic or other event”.

“Side contours in distilled spirit pouches have been done before – I think the potential for a transparent container makes this more unique,” he added.
(N.B. Swedish firm Ecolean also has a transparent pouch on the market, and promotes its Air Aseptic Clear package for non-alcoholic beverages. The company's category marketing manager, Jens Olofsson, told BeverageDaily.com that RTD cocktails "might be an option with the right customer and positioning".)

“Combining some form of plastic (presumably PET or something similar) with a metallic foil bottom seems highly unique,” Pryweller said, referencing PPI’s design where a durable plastic back is welded to a shiny metallic foil front and bottom.

PPI’s patent description states that cocktails are not prone to the same spoilage from sunlight as other foods and beverages, but Pryweller said he wondered if the pouch gave sufficient protection against oxygen permeation.

“I haven’t found any applications for this, it still seems early in the process. But I could see a company such as Daily’s Cocktails looking at this or even a major alcoholic drink manufacturer,” he said.

Closure to the consumer…Aptar and Ampac innovate

Tackling other pouch technology advances, Pryweller cited Ampac’s reclosable Pull Tab beverage pouch with a pre-cut tear-away label to fit an attached straw. Pictured above, this was launched at Emballage in December 2012.

“The development could further the drinks category by offering a less messy, reclosable option for a standup pouch using a straw. There hasn’t been a lot of innovation in that area since Capri Sun launched in the early 1990s, and this could help propel the category,” Pryweller said.

Finally, in February 2014, Aptar also released a one-piece pouch closure fitment called Galaxy (pictured left) with a built-in pull tab and hinged flap for easy opening and controlled dispensing.

“It seems as if pull tabs are the new technology of choice to help pouches sidestep problems opening the package and prevent messy skills,” Pryweller said.

“It will be interesting to watch whether this development spurs more consumer acceptance and how willing brandowners are to adopt these pull tab technologies and replace existing fitments,” he added.

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