3 Min Read
Craft brewer cuts corners to showcase beer variety



Widmer 4-pack

By designing a box that allows consumers to see the bottles inside—and handling the intricate kitting and fulfillment required for the retail market—xpedx serves as a one-stop shop for a new variety pack concept at Widmer Brothers Brewing, a brand of Craft Brewers Alliance Inc., one of the largest craft beer brewers in the United States.


Widmer Brothers, located in Portland, OR, is marketing its unique craft brews in variety four-packs of larger 22-oz bottles, which have lower production and packaging costs than standard 12-oz bottles.


"Craft beer drinkers are going after larger bottles so they don't have to commit to an entire six-pack that has just one variety," says Aaron Burget, assistant brand manager, Widmer Brothers. "To deliver to this demand, we needed to create packaging that makes the bottles visible, is easy to carry and open, and would not require an entirely new package with each new variety combination."


The solution, provided by xpedx, is a box with cut-out corners to allow the consumer to see all four bottles in the box, and the kitting and fulfillment capabilities to complete the finished product. The box offers sustainability benefits by increasing pallet capacity 40 percent, which reduces shipping costs. Visible bottle labels also eliminate the need for new graphics designs on the box with each different four-pack combination.


"Allowing customers to see the bottles adds great value," Burget says. "Our main goal was to create a package that reveals the bottle labels inside so that we didn't have to change the graphics on the box with each new offering. The box also needed to allow us to quickly switch out the beer varieties inside. xpedx's design met these goals for us."


Since Widmer Brothers devotes all of its time to brewing beer seven days a week, it also relies on xpedx for construction and fulfillment of the variety pack in xpedx's Portland location.


Customers may consider the packaging concept simple, but creating it took a great deal of work. Gaby Roberts, custom services specialist, xpedx, served as project manager for the design and fulfillment.


"Creating this box with open corners was a huge achievement, because this is not how you would typically construct the box in a box plant," Roberts says. "The box is an elegant design, but it needs to be sturdy enough to handle 9.5 lbs of product. With its open windows, it had to have enough surface area to accommodate the customer's graphics. And we had to pack it inexpensively enough for Widmer Brothers to reach the price point it was seeking."


The four-packs sell for about $20, and Widmer Brothers is initially targeting club stores, grocery stores and liquor stores in the West for distribution.


Xpedx managed the project from start to finish. Its parent company, Intl. Paper, provided corrugated structural design and manufacturing from its site in Beaverton, OR. Xpedx also worked with Widmer Brothers' graphic design firm to ensure appropriate placement of graphics on the box for manufacturability. Through its Custom Services department xpedx provided the kitting and fulfillment and made ready the product for delivery to wholesalers.


"Xpedx brings it all together, and its outstanding project management is an important key," Burget says. "We make beer seven days a week here; to pack these specialty boxes by hand ourselves would be expensive and slow for us. But xpedx handles everything, and it's very competitive in price."


"Our work with Widmer Brothers demonstrates xpedx's capability to integrate a full packaging offering," Roberts says. "It's more than corrugated; it's our packaging expertise. It starts with determining our customers' needs and wants, designing the packaging, then bringing the components together, managing the project and completing the pack out. And it's about making profitable sales for the customer our highest priority. Our end-to-end services are what make us a worldwide packaging leader."

Source: xpedx, a business of Intl. Paper



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