Splash Beverage Group of Fort Lauderdale, FL, drew attention in 2021 with the introduction of Pulpoloco Sangria packaged in CartoCan paper can packaging.
The line of three alcohol-containing products aseptically packaged and imported from Europe is available in smooth red, soft rosé, and crisp white. The 250 mL/8.45-ounce paper cans feature an energetic packaging design in a format that's unique in look and feel.
In 2022, the company gained placement in 187 of Ralph’s Grocery stores throughout Southern California.
This spring the beverage brand’s market potential expanded when it announced the product would be available in select 7-Eleven and Speedway stores across the US. 7-Eleven is the world’s largest convenience retailer with more than 83,000 stores globally
These placements further validated the product and the distinctive packaging.
Bill Meissner, chief marketing officer and president of Splash Beverage, discusses the product and especially the unique packaging in our interview.
What attracted you to the product in the first place?
Meissner: Three things attracted us to this brand: the sustainable, game-changing packaging, the Sangria itself, and the branding.
How did the name Pulpoloco originate?
Meissner: The brand was founded in Madrid, Spain, where the octopus is very popular. In Spanish, it’s called Pulpo. Sangria is “crazy” popular in Spain, so people are loco for sangria. The founders married these two to create the brand’s name as “crazy octopus” or Pulpoloco.
Tell us about the paper cans’ sustainability story.
Meissner: Pulpoloco launched the paper CartoCan packaging in the US because the founder became aware of how special this fully recylable packaging was. The Pulpoloco brand is now enjoyed by a generation of consumers that want their brands to prioritize their environmental impact. Sustainability should be important to all beverage companies.
The CartoCan is 30% more eco-friendly than aluminum cans or PET bottles and uses 30% less total raw materials to create; the raw materials come entirely from renewable sources. The packaging uses wood fibers from forests managed in an exemplary fashion, giving CartoCan packages the right to use the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) label. Similar to milk cartons, the packaging has a polyethylene barrier layer.
Further, it’s light weight allows for more yield in transportation reducing its carbon footprint compared to other pack types.
Although the CartoCan is fully recyclable like milk cartons, we know it’s not always recycled. However, because the CartoCan contains more than 95% paper fiber, it will break down in a landfill if the consumer does not recycle it.
We’d like to hear about the production operations.
Meissner: The CartoCan operation is a completely integrated aseptic packaging system. It consists of a can-forming machine, a filling and sealing unit including pull-tab station where the top tear-off tab is applied, and all necessary consumables.
The packaging has four components: body, bottom, edge-protection strip, and pull tab.
There are four packaging lines in Austria capable of running high- and low-acid products. The facility, which is in a beautiful area, exclusively runs aseptic and high-temperature, short-time products. It’s completely powered by a bio-furnace.
What’s been the market reception for the paper canned sangria?
Meissner: The feedback on the liquid has been excellent. It’s an authentic and layered sangria with defined flavor notes and a “sessionable” ABV of 5.5%.
The packaging is so great and exciting for people that it can take over the brand narrative, rather than the sangria. When retailers and distributors get excited about the packaging, we often remind them about the great liquid inside.
What’s the market status and what’s next?
Meissner: The CartoCans are sold as a single unit for $3.49 and is also available in 4-packs. Available in 7-Eleven stores, Speedway stores, select retailers nationwide. The product is available in 22 states today with plans to expand to all 50.
Today we are only distributing Pulpoloco in the US, but there are two Central American countries in the works. In Europe, the CartoCan is widely used by brands in the 100% juice, dairy alternative, and popular cold-coffee categories.
A wine line extension is planned for 2024 and we also plan to bring CartoCan production to the US.