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Packaging Design

Perfume Packaging Does So Much More These Days

Photo credit: alexugalek – Perfume-spray-AdobeStock_122214975-ftd.jpeg

Perfume, an emblematic product of the beauty world, is constantly reinventing itself to multiply innovations that delight us. Imagination remains essential for this beauty segment in constant progression, as evidenced by the figures. For 2019, the world of beauty amounted 220 billion Euros posted growth of 5.0% compared to 2018, (5.5% growth in 2017) with more than 11% devoted to fragrances. For 2018, total fragrances amount to $50.98 billion with 2.4% growth compared to 2017. Ten years ago, in 2009, the total fragrance rose 3.8% vs. 2008 to $36.63 billion.

This overall growth in the beauty world owes a lot to the development of the luxury sector (+11% of sales in 2017), sales in Asia (+ 10% of 2017 sales), ecommerce (+ 25% of 2017 sales), and travel-retail (+ 22% of 2017 sales). Since 2018, the world perfume market amounted to C with projections for the first half of 2019 that lead to double this market value in the next four years! [1,2]

Photo supplied by P.Gauthierfigure 1 summarize P.Gauthier perfume what else-web.jpg

Figure 1: Main figures of the cosmetic market. [1,2]

Packaging, a fundamental asset for the beauty universe, plays an essential role in the recognition of a brand or cosmetic product. Indeed, for cosmetics, packaging’s marketing value largely exceeds its primary function of product protection. This marketing impact of the pack — evaluated at 82% for all industry sectors — increases to 92% in the cosmetic universe. The high percentage is partially attributed to the specific effect of the materials used (48% innovation lever for cosmetics) and the wording associated with packaging (20% innovation lever for cosmetics). [3,4]

For perfumes, the bottle remains an unavoidable sign of recognition of a well-known fragrance. But new products have arrived. Recognized stars who have always been associated with fragrances now have competition from new celebrities and their “tailor-made creations” for brands and products.

Now, traditional perfume bottles coexist with packages in sometimes very unusual shapes, blurring boundaries between established and novel universes. In any case, technique and materials must follow the imagination of the creators! (See Figure 2)

Photo supplied by P.Gauthierfigure 2 P.Gauthier perfume what else-web.jpg

Perfumes and various bottles. [3,4,5]


Innovation in packaging includes shapes and materials, with this inescapable idea of eco-sustainability, which is also shared for formulations.


Amazing applications.

For perfume packaging, the spray remains a major element that will modify the physical characteristics of the product. By dissociating the particles, it widens the application surface, and immediately offers new sensations to the user.

A spray will transform the product and corresponds to an efficient and innovative sector: Pumps and aerosols (with or without the addition of gas) are always reinventing themselves. [5,6] Wider, longer, or more aerial, the spray can form a mist to envelop the user and create new perfume products — such as hair mists — that complement and enrich the offers of brands. These new products tempt the user much more (see Figure 3). [7,8,9]

Larger or finer sprays can change the product sensation. Here’s an example: Dolce, a patented innovation, uses a new generation of insert, which replaces a single route with multiples channels that have micron precision). This design allows a specific softness of the spray. For perfume, the user can choose how long and intense the fragrance will be, depending on the amount of pressure on the actuator. [10]

Innovation is also in the application: The “codex of gestures” is superb ethnological work around spray and the terminologies attached to it, often as a play on words. Application gestures are reinvented and simple movements are made fun. [11] Sprays are easy and quick to apply in one gesture, and often enlarge the application surface. Fragrance universes remain a specific one, with an idea of mystery that should be preserved and might be something as simple as dip tubes made invisible in bottles with new shapes.

Photo supplied by P.Gauthierfigure 3 P.Gauthier Perfume what else-web.jpg

Perfume application gestures and various spray patterns. [7,8,9,10,11]

This great mastery of the manufacturing technique sometimes means modifying materials to address eco-design, which is so important for consumers and brands. [12] Sometimes, this is not an easy challenge — replacing an internal metal component of a pump with a plastic part, for example. Brands should avoid mistakes in technical performances, keeping any issues invisible to the user.

The revolution is also on eco-formulations with the arrival of water-based perfumes that sometimes require micro-encapsulation to preserve the fragrances. For these products, pumps might need adaptation! In short, technical marvels are most often ignored by consumers. Fortunately, multiple competitions highlight great developments of manufacturers. [13]


Alternative applications.

Societal evolution is also a recognized driver of innovation. For example, nomadism will generate sprays of small sizes to slip into the bag; miniaturization and diversity are essential. Millennials, sometimes with a tighter budget, will often opt for small formats, even if it means testing more products. This is a way for all brands to propose new products and reinvent their users.

For perfume, a ritual has developed with the “do-it-yourself” trend for the layering of scents. Consequently, pumps have been adapted to deliver very small volumes — here again, a beautiful technical challenge for packaging. [12,14]

However, despite their diversity, sprays are no longer the only packaging for perfumes. In addition to bottles, the imagination offers alternatives to the usual application of a scent.

So close to the skin, the perfume can calligraphy sweet words; the fragrance becomes gel and takes shape, thanks to pens, and applies with a roller. Numerous beautiful new formulations can be associated with small nomadic packaging to slip into your go-bag. The cushion, a pack system arrived from Asia 10 years ago (acclaimed in the makeup department), appears in the perfume sector, for an elegant application and a simple gesture — once again, perfectly nomadic (see Figure 4). [3,5,15] And one more gift has been created: a perfume link printed with fragrance … a new kind of sophisticated jewel. [16]

Photo supplied by P.Gauthierfigure 4 P.Gauthier perfume what else-web.jpg

Perfume gifts and sampling. [3,5,16,17,18,19]


Startling samples.

Sampling, an unavoidable partner in the perfume sphere, has also undergone revolution. The miniature (often collected) remains essential; completed with simple tubes, produced on demand (for a rapid test), and finally miniaturized to the extreme, the spray is also available in single-dose in a “sampling magazine.” Sensory marketing, according to a Rockefeller University study, relies on olfactory memory (35%), which is much better than that of other senses — 5% for visual, 2% for hearing, 1% for touch [18]

The perfume vaporized or impregnated on an object (such as a ribbon, ceramic, or jewel) enhances the “gift” nature of the free sample. [20,21,22,23] (See Figure 4.) In the act of taking care of their consumers, companies recreate the brands’ universe with boxes with cutouts/embossments and bring to light new rituals that connect fragrances with memory


Digital delights.

“Digital,” omnipresent in daily life, also integrates into the perfume universe. Of course, the internet will allow brands to promote products and increase sales. It also, and above all, communicates differently around perfumes. A tag associated with a sample will help consumers discover and understand a fragrance, especially when it’s associated to a full-story telling (see Figure 5). [17] Expanding the universe of possibilities is one of the great strengths of the digital world, allowing, with a single click, someone to learn everything with disconcerting ease. But beware! It is a delicate balance of revealing while preserving the mystery inherent in the world of perfume and luxury.

Digital and promotion: The marketing power of social networks is no longer in question. For perfumes, brands are multiplying their offers, revealing more and more imagination to reinvent systems. Installing and using Olfaplay, the app of large perfume house Guerlain, on your smartphone allows everyone to record an olfactory memory. [22] Smell, feel, and sometimes even recreate …

One more example can be given from 2019, during the Saint Etienne Design Biennial, where “Resurrecting the sublime” promises to immerse you in the scent of lost flowers, species extinct because of colonial activity. [24] This scientific and artistic collaboration extracted DNA from herbaria at Harvard University, and has enabled researchers to re-synthesize the gene sequences of the enzymes that produce perfumes. Then, it was possible to reconstruct the scents of the missing flowers, using identical odor molecules. Shining proof that science is beautiful and indeed an art.

Photo supplied by P.Gauthierfigure 5 P.Gauthier perfume what else-web.jpg

Perfumes and digital. [24,25,26,27,28]


In terms of personalization, digital performs in the perfume universe. With simple capsules, as desired, a small machine allows everyone to prepare their fragrance in the moment (see Figure 5). [25] In January 2019, at the Computer Electronic Show (CES) in Las Vegas, a company presented a machine that uses inkjet printing to make scents (spraying droplets from 20 to 30mm). Another new product was a nice little domestic system that diffuses fragrances on demand (voice control, via dedicated application) including lights of different colors. [29]

This idea of diffusing scents was already proposed in 2014, with the “Ophone,” a creation of David Edwards, aiming to send scented SMS (short message service, aka text messages). A dock is connected to a platform incorporating cartridges of scents. This system has remained confidential for the moment, kept in the section of curiosities. [30] Its creator has also worked on perfumes and aromas with WHIF and WAIHH, a series of unusual objects offering a new way of experiencing food: by sucking their odors. Coffee to smell or alcohols to savor differently, for a feeling of drunkenness that avoids the harmful effects of alcohol! (See Figure 5.) [27,28]

Always going further with digital, the Japanese have fitted virtual reality glasses with olfactory cartridges. Intended to reinforce the real effect of the universes proposed in certain video games, the marine, herbaceous odor, can be combined with the vision of the landscape, guaranteeing total immersion (see Figure 5). [26]

More seriously, artificial intelligence enters the world of perfume creation. No, our “noses” do not compete with multiple algorithms. But the digital tool can prove to be a useful complement for a pre-screening, helpful for dispatching relevant fragrance associations.

Partnerships are created between large companies. And young, creative perfumers rely on 21stcentury tools, in concert with the demands of the public. [31] The large Generation Z (16%) is found in the hyper-personalization of the products, including fragrances manufactured on demand, for a luxury studied at the right price in accordance with their consensual creeds. [32]

In this multitude of ideas supported by the digital wave, time will quickly sort out between pure gadgets and lasting proposals. With ever more technology and imagination, the world of fragrances is reinventing itself, mixing codes and never ceasing to surprise and seduce us, integrating digital as an additional tool for the creation of these unique products that will always make us dream, perfumes … and what else?


Dr. Pascale Gauthier is a pharmacist (D.Pharm) with background research from Auvergne University — Masters in Biopharmaceutical, a specific Master (DEA) in Pharmacokinetics, and a Ph.D. in Pharmaceutical Technology. She is in charge of courses in Auvergne University and is involved with several patents, international publications, and conferences. Her research is focused on modified release forms, pharmaceutical design and categories of users, and digital in the area of health, as well as innovative packaging and formulations in cosmetics. Reach her at



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2 – “Market trends and indicators, a snapshot of the latest market facts, figures and trends.” BW Confidential, 2018, 36, pp.34-35 and pp.150-152.

3 - Gauthier, P. “Emballage et Beauté, toujours plus d’innovations, d’adaptations ‘sur-mesure’ aux produits et aux utilisateurs.” 15th Perfume Cosmetic and Design, Paris, 31/01/19.

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5 - Gauthier, P. “Cosmetic world a high-tech universe. H&PC Today, 2020, 16,1, 51-53.

6 - Gauthier, P. Spray and foam, overview of products and use. 7thAerosol and Dispensing Forum, ADF-PCD Oriex, Paris, 6-8 February 2013. “Spray and foam, overview of products and use.” Aerosol Europe, 2013, Vol. 21, No.6, pp.12-17.

7 - Gauthier, P. “5 advances and packaging trends in the beauty universe,” Packaging Digest, May 2017,

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12 - Ruchon, P. “Parfums les nouveaux avatars.” Formes de Luxe, 2018, No.122, pp.20-28.

13 - Gauthier, P. “Cosmetic, aerosol and premium drinks, a winning mix in Paris.” H&PC Today, 2020, 15, 2, pp.34-35.

14 - Huyn, J. “Mode et parfums, une équation à plusieurs inconnues.” Cosmétiquemag, 2019, No.206, pp.36-39.

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New Products

Pouch Machine Leverages Magnetic Linear Technology for Fast Changeover

Photo supplied by KHS KHS-Pouches-ftd.jpg

The new KHS Innopouch Bartelt K-TRAK Series of pouching solutions uses a modular design for its operations with benefits that include the option to run fill-seal and/or form-fill-seal operations on the same line.

The use of magnetic linear technology increases flexibility, reliability, and fast changeovers. For instance, using magnetic movers and linear servos overcomes the speed and flexibility or motion limitations of belts, chains, or turrets to move pouches. This design uses independently controlled double pouch clamps and magnetic linear motion control to securely handle pouches.

When using the bag clamp maintenance loop, clamps can be easily removed for cleaning and maintenance while the machine is running. And when they’re replaced, the machine automatically merges the clamps back into production. Sanitary food design and IP69 protection are among many additional options.

Using a pitch-less” design, the machine can automatically adjust for speed and pouch size, including single or double duplex” pouches. And instead of doing-legging” product to fill pouches, the pouches are brought directly to the filler, which also speeds changeover. A graphical touchscreen interface automates product changeover — from the push of a touchscreen button to the use of servos — such as when changing, for instance, from bottom-gusseted to side-gusseted pouches.

This solution was demonstrated by KHS USA during the 2020 Pack Expo Connects virtual show (November 9-13).

Photo supplied by KHSKHS-Innopouch Bartelt K series-web.jpg

New Products

Telescoping Walk-Through Conveyor Retracts for Easy, Ergonomic Access

This simple, easy-to-use telescoping, retractable conveyor from Aagard saves workers lots of steps while saving plants the added engineering, time, and expense of other solutions.

The conveyor is featured with the company’s case packers and palletizers, and requires no special skills, effort, or wait time, such as would be required for conveyor drawbridges that may involve lifting, cranking, or hydraulics. Instead, just slide a section of conveyor open as easily as walking through a door.

The retractable conveyor can be used without interrupting operations, which the vendor illustrates in a short video. This solution was demonstrated by Aagard during the 2020 Pack Expo Connects virtual show (November 9-13).

Packaging Design

Packaging Designs that Dazzled in 2020

Life may imitate art, but artful packaging is a direct reflection of how brand owners assess and answer the needs of their consumers. Just look at these examples of great graphics and stunning structures that were elevated to the top of our end-of-year review list by your plentiful page views.

Healthcare Packaging

Biotech Firm Invents Always-Upright Shipping Container

Photo supplied by InSphero isp_box_layouts_group-featured.jpg
A spherical ball inside a thermal shipper floats on water, keeping a tray of microtissues inside it upright no matter what position the shipper finds itself.

InSphero’s clever InFloat shipper keeps contents upright, regardless of package orientation. Designed to ship microtissues to global bio/pharmaceutical companies and academic laboratories, the gyroscope-looking floating ball also maintains an internal package temperature of over 20°C and less than 40°C year-round. And the contents are able to withstand pressure changes in airplane cargo compartments.

InSphero is the world leader in engineering highly specialized and functional 3D microtissues for drug discovery. Being very delicate, the microtissues ship in plates consisting of 96 or 384 tiny wells to researchers and drug screeners. Preserving the plates’ physiological function during shipping is not trivial.

Keeping the microtissue plates completely vertical is essential during transit. But despite “Keep Upright” arrows affixed all over them, packages can be subject to a multitude of shocks and are sometimes flipped in many directions.

“One of the biggest challenges of shipping live 3D cell cultures is that we can’t control what happens to our boxes of microtissues after they leave our bioproduction facilities,” says InSphero CEO and co-founder Jan Lichtenberg, Ph.D.

Inspired by seafarers who added keels and counterweights to vessels to prevent them from capsizing, InSphero’s radical innovation uses a similar principle — one that has never before been implemented in a packaging solution.

Says Lichtenberg, “Our InFloat shipping system reduces shipping risks and uncertainty by allowing our carefully packaged plates of microtissues to literally float safely on water until they reach their destination.”

In this video, Dr. Olivier Frey demonstrates how the shipper keeps live microtissues upright during transit.

Frey, Ph.D. and InSphero’s head of technology and platforms, and InFloat design team project lead, also answers Packaging Digest’s questions about this clever concept and its potential for broader application for other products and markets. 


Why did you develop this packaging yourselves instead of working with a packaging supplier?

Frey: InSphero invented and patented its concept, then approached a supplier for final implementation after having internally demonstrated its feasibility. The InSphero InFloat shipper has been developed with and is manufactured by Taracell AG (Künten, Switzerland), a company specializing in particle foam packaging for sensitive shipments.


Will you license the InFloat shipper technology to other companies?

Frey: Yes, we are in the process of establishing an InFloat shipper licensing strategy, as well as an adapted version based on the same concept.


How long can the 3D microtissues survive in this package? Is there a time fudge-factor built into the packaging system to prevent the product from becoming unusable?

Frey: Our shipper is qualified for up to three days, and we aim to have microtissues arrive within two days for shipments to the US (three days for Japan). This is heavily dependent on the lifetime of the microtissue because they are not oxygenated during shipment.

One shipper was held up at a logistics center for one week due to a Boston snowstorm. When it arrived at its destination in Brunswick, Maine, the shipment of plates remained intact. The cargo was a different product (not live microtissues) but our shipper remained functional.


How much does the InFloat shipper cost?

Frey: The InFloat shipping system is not sold separately. The price is included in the overall cost of shipping to our partner laboratories. It is part of our “assay-ready” solution for pharma and biotech partners who purchase our 3D in vitro models for use in their labs. InFloat was specifically engineered to keep microplates of 3D models upright and secure during transport to labs around the world.

Photo supplied by InSpheroInSphero_microtissues-web.jpg

Microtissues ship to researchers and drug screeners in plates consisting of 96 or 384 tiny wells that must be kept upright throughout distribution.


What sizes are available for this shipping container and why those?

Frey: The InFloat shipper is currently available in one size only. It is sized to fit the four main components of the packaging system:

1. 3D microtissues sit in the company’s Akura assay plate technology, sealed with a film in sterile conditions. These plates are wrapped in a small plastic bag to maintain sterility. Depending on the customer order, two or more plates may be placed inside a small paperboard box.

2. The microtissue box sits inside of the sphere, which opens in half. Within it are thermo packs, gel packs, and two heating elements for temperature control. The sphere is securely closed by a single plastic strap.

3. The sphere sits inside the larger rectangular expanded polypropylene (EPP) box, floating on 0.5 liters of water. It has handles for easy carrying and opening and plastic straps for secure closure.

4. The EPP box is then housed in a large corrugated shipper — which also contains cell culture media — but can be shipped without the latter.

Interior dimensions and features have been specifically designed for sending microtissue boxes. But the overall concept can be easily resized and adapted for other goods.


Packaging Design

10 Best Beverage Packaging Stories of 2020

Most will agree that it will feel good to bid 2020 good-bye at midnight on December 31, yet there’s much to toast, too, in a period when all victories no matter how minor should be celebrated.

For example, it’s been a banner year for beverage packaging features. Not only is the category’s glass more than half full based on Packaging Digest website metric analyses, it’s overflowing: a number of beverage packaging features were found throughout the list of the top-read articles of the year that we’ve distilled to a tidy Top 10.

These high-interest developments captured a variety of submarkets and formats, from printed ingredients to biodegradable bottles to revolutionary bottle inspection — inspired by a visit to the dentist, no less — as well as accelerating interest in paper bottles, among other beverage breakthroughs for beer, wine, spirits, and other drinks.

Enough of the introductory chatter, let’s get to the slide gallery presentation in typical reverse order with #10, a radical packaging twist for wellness shots.

Packaging Design

Top 5 Food Packaging Stories of 2020

This entire year has been as unique as any as are the hundreds of food packages and packaging developments Packaging Digest has published since January 2020.

Let’s start with some intelligence on this crucial packaging category — the global food packaging market size is expected to reach $456.6 billion by 2027, expanding at a CAGR of 5.2% over the forecast period. Growing demand for convenience food products due to change in lifestyle and alternative eating habits is expected to bolster the market growth, according to a report  published March 2020 by Grand View Research. Key takeaways:

  1. The industry exhibits rapid growth for single-serve and portable food packs.
  2. Rising concerns of consumers regarding contamination and food safety is predicted to bolster the demand for effective packaging solutions.
  3. Rising inclination toward innovation in environment-friendly and sustainable packaging is an emerging trend in the industry.

That sets the stage for the following five feature top-read articles that follow that were determined using website metrics as the features that resonated most across the breadth of the packaging community. The list begins in traditional reverse-order with a major brand’s cereal move into a breakthrough flexible packaging format.

Huge US Potential for Plant-Based Products and Packaging

PBPC PBPC Study Graphic Overview

Research released December 10 by the Plant Based Products Council (PBPC) shows the majority of US consumers are receptive to plant based products and packaging, with 54% viewing them favorably and 59% expressing interest. According to the report, the potential market size for plant-based products is estimated to be more than 136 million.


“There is clear consumer desire to support and promote innovation in the plant-based products and packaging arena,” said Jessica Bowman, executive director of the Council. “PBPC and our members stand ready to embrace the opportunity to educate consumers on the many benefits of plant-based products as we work to guide the global economy toward more sustainable and responsible consumer products and packaging.”

In addition to being receptive, more than half (54%) of US consumers are likely to purchase plant-based products in the next three months, with just less than half (49%) also self-reporting as likely to recommend these products to others.

PBPCPBPC 1 in 5 simple chart

The data showed significant untapped market potential with only 1 in 5 (22%) reporting strong familiarity with plant-based products and packaging. Additionally, when consumers see plant-based products and packaging, the first things that come to mind for them are paper and food, followed less commonly by clothing, bags, boxes, and containers.

There is also a notable amount of general confusion as to what the category is about.  This awareness gap signifies an opportunity for consumer education not only to grow familiarity, but to increase awareness of the positive impact plant-based products and materials have on the environment.

“PBPC works every day to educate key stakeholders and advocate for policies that encourage growth and innovation in the plant-based industry,” added Bowman.

What about bioplastics?

Given the amount of press and news in the bioplastics market, it was surprising that a report filed by Packaging Digest sister publication PlasticsToday in April 2020 cited an industry report that found a lack of innovation in the bioplastics was preventing the widespread use of biodegradable and compostable materials in packaging applications (see Widespread Use of Bioplastics Held Back by Lagging Innovation).

Despite that constraint, the bioplastics market remains growing by leaps and bounds, according to a market study published that same month: The global market for plant-based polymers is expected to grow from $10.5 billion in 2020 to $27.9 billion by 2025 at a CAGR of 21.7%, according to a report from Markets&Markets.

The 2020 PBPC Consumer Research study was conducted by Heart+Mind Strategies and included both a quantitative and qualitative component. A nationally representative sample of 1,000 US consumers responded to an online survey fielded from June 12-17, 2020. Additionally, a nationally representative sample of 20 U.S. consumers participated in 90-minute online focus groups in August 2020. Full results from the study are accessible to PBPC members.


Modernized Alcoholic Beverage Regulations Spur Label Updates

Photo credit: Rogatnev – Alcohol-bottles-AdobeStock_247505208-ftd.jpeg

Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, this past Spring, the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) of the U.S. Department of the Treasury published a final rule to modernize existing regulations for alcoholic beverages — 85 Fed. Reg. 18704 (April 2, 2020). TTB is the primary federal agency that has specific oversight for the composition, labeling, and advertising of most alcoholic beverages.

This final rule became effective as bars, wineries, and breweries experienced a drop in sales due to state-wide mandated closures. At the same time, there was a significant increase in consumer demand for alcoholic beverages, including wine, craft beer, hard seltzers, and distilled spirits.  

This final rule is the first major update to TTB’s regulations in decades and better reflects today’s modern marketplace. These changes will provide wineries, brewers, and distillers with greater flexibility to develop and market new innovative products. This article provides a summary of the recent TTB regulations that apply to alcoholic beverages, including wine, craft beer, hard seltzers, and distilled spirits.


Distilled Spirits.

In addition to TTB’s amendment to 27 CFR 5.11 — which clarifies that products containing less than 0.5% alcohol by volume are not regulated as distilled spirits under the Federal Alcohol Administration Act (FAA Act)  — the final rule gives industry greater flexibility on the placement of mandatory information on distilled spirits labels. TTB’s amendment of section 5.11 now allows the brand label to be on any side of a distilled spirit’s bottle, as long as it includes all required information within the same field of vision. TTB defines “field of vision” as a single side of a container where all pieces of information can be viewed simultaneously without the need to turn the container.

TTB believes that requiring this information in the same field of vision, rather than on the display panel at retail, is a more objective and understandable standard, particularly as applied to cylindrical bottles.

Current TTB regulations require the following to appear on the brand label:
• Brand name
• Class and type of distilled spirit
• Alcohol content
• Net contents (for containers that do not meet a standard of fill)

TTB’s final rule also led to changes in the standards of identity (SOI) for some distilled spirits, which industry must consider when including the class and type of distilled spirit on their product. By way of background, TTB regulations divide the broad category of “distilled spirits” into various SOIs, which include both a “class” and a “type.” Each SOI consists of a defined class, such as “Neutral Spirits or Alcohol” or “Agave Spirits.” Within the various classes are “types,” including “Vodka,” which falls under the “Neutral Spirits or Alcohol” class, or “Tequila,” which falls under the class of “Agave Spirits.”

Regarding vodka’s SOI, TTB amended the existing regulations at section 5.22(a)(1) to remove the requirement that vodka be without distinctive character, aroma, taste, or color. Previously, to be classified as a “Vodka,” TTB regulations required that the product be “without distinctive character, aroma, taste, or color.” TTB noted that the change was implemented because the previous requirement no longer reflects consumer expectations. Given the variety in base ingredients, flavors, and flavor profiles found in the vodka category, TTB’s final rule provides industry the flexibility to develop and market new innovative products.

TTB also amended section 5.22(g), which created a new class within the SOI, called “Agave Spirits,” and two types within the class, “Tequila” and “Mezcal.” This new “Agave spirits” class replaced the previous “Tequila” class, which did not address mezcal or the broader category of Agave Spirits. TTB has stated that the creation of the “Agave Spirits” class will provide more information to consumers and will allow industry members greater flexibility in labeling products that are distilled from agave.

In addition to the changes noted above, the final rule also increased the tolerance for the alcohol content of distilled spirits products to plus or minus 0.3 percentage points above or below the labeled alcohol content. TTB also removed a limitation on the way distilled spirits producers may count distillations when making optional “multiple distillation” claims on their labels and removed the current prohibition against age statements on several classes and types of distilled spirits.


The wine industry has also benefitted from the update to TTB regulations.

Now that TTB’s final rule is effective, wine manufacturers have more flexibility regarding the use of vintage dates on their labels. The final rule removed a prohibition that restricts the use of vintage dates on imported wine, as long as bottlers have the appropriate documentation substantiating that the wine is entitled to be labeled with a vintage date.

Moreover, if the bottler has the appropriate documentation substantiating that the wine is entitled to be labeled with a vintage date, it should not be disqualifying that the wine was imported in a bulk container that did not bear a vintage date. As such, this change in the law will provide additional labeling flexibility to bottlers that import vintage wine in bulk for bottling in the US.

The final rule also eliminated the SOI for “Citrus Wines,” as TTB considered it unnecessary to continue to distinguish between citrus wine and fruit wine. Instead, “citrus wine” is now a type, as TTB amended section 4.21(e) to include “Citrus Wines” in the “Fruit Wine” class.



The changes to TTB’s regulations that govern beer involved product label claims and the listing of alcohol content statement requirements.

In response to industry groups’ request, TTB removed antiquated prohibitions against the use of the term “strong” and other statements regarding alcohol strength on malt beverage labels and in advertisements. This change will now authorize industry to use claims, such as “strong Ale,” “strong,” “full strength,” “extra strength,” “high test,” “high proof,” “pre-war strength,” “full old time alcoholic strength,” in their labeling and advertising. While such statements are now permitted, these regulatory changes should not be interpreted to limit TTB’s authority to prohibit claims relating to alcohol content that TTB considers false or misleading.

In a submitted comment, the Brewers’ Association requested that TTB remove the proposed restrictions on use of the word “draft.” The final rule now allows brewers to use terms such as “draft” and “draught” on labels and in advertisements. Previously, the 1965 TTB Industry Circular 65-1 stated that the use of such terms as “Draft Beer,” “Draft Brewed,” “Draft Beer flavor,” “Old Time on-tap taste,” and like expressions or terms should be limited to “beverages dispensed from a tap, spigot, or similar device, or that were unpasteurized and required refrigeration for preservation.” 

The Brewers Association argued that TTB Industry Circular 65-1 is no longer relevant, as consumers understand “draft” to mean beer served from a keg or barrel; thus, consumers understand that beer in a can or bottle is not “draft” and the use of the term “draft” to describe a canned or bottled beer is puffery. TTB agreed that consumer perceptions have shifted regarding the terms “draft” or “draught” and removed these restrictions.

Regarding the listing of alcohol content, the final rule now permits brewers to use labels nationwide that state both alcohol by volume and (as required by some state laws) alcohol by weight. This change reflects TTB’s recognition that under current regulations, brewers may have to obtain different labels for sale in states that require different types of alcohol content statements. Therefore, brewers will now be able to use the same label in states that require alcohol content to be stated as a percentage of alcohol by weight and in other states that neither require nor prohibit alcohol by weight statements.  


Definition of Wine and Malt Beverage.

The final rule also clarified which alcohol beverage products meet the statutory definition of a wine or malt beverage under the FAA Act. TTB has explained that products that do not meet these definitions are not subject to the requirements of parts 4 or 7 of the TTB regulations and, instead, are subject to Food and Drug Administration (FDA) labeling regulations, under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act).

TTB has noted that the FAA Act allows malt beverages to be made from unmalted cereals in addition to malted barley and hops. However, pursuant to the statutory definition of a “malt beverage” found in 27 U.S.C. 211(a)(7), a beer made without any malted barley would not be considered a “malt beverage” and would not be subject to the labeling requirements of the FAA Act or part 7 of the TTB regulations.

FDA and TTB Memorandum of Understanding.

In its final rule, TTB also took the opportunity to clarify the responsibilities of the FDA and TTB, or its predecessor known as Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) that pertain to alcoholic beverages. In short, TTB continues to defer to FDA on issues of ingredient safety, food contact material safety, and adulteration under the FD&C Act.  

Per its final rule, TTB maintains its longstanding position that if FDA has determined that an alcohol beverage product is adulterated under the FD&C Act, then the product is mislabeled within the meaning of the Federal Alcohol Administration Act (FAA), which TTB administers, even if the bottler or importer of the product in question has obtained a COLA (“Certification/Exemption of Label/Bottle Approval”) or formula approval from TTB (see Industry Circular 2010-8, dated November 23, 2010, entitled “Alcohol Beverages Containing Added Caffeine.”). 

The 1987 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between FDA and TTB’s predecessor agency, ATF, specifically states that TTB will have primary responsibility for issuing recall notices and monitoring voluntary recalls of alcoholic beverages that are adulterated under FDA law or mislabeled under the FAA Act by reason of being adulterated. Today, this MOU remains in effect between FDA and TTB.  

Therefore, industry must comply with TTB regulations, as well as all other applicable federal and state requirements, including FDA regulations that govern alcoholic beverages.


Alcoholic beverages post-COVID-19.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, local jurisdictions across the country have relaxed local laws that govern alcohol. For example, in response to slow sales at restaurants, states like Texas, Florida, Missouri, Kansas, IndianaKentucky, and Ohio are now planning to allow restaurants licensed to sell alcohol to deliver cocktails and other alcoholic beverages, some indefinitely.

Moreover, states like Indiana, which had among the most restrictive alcohol laws in the country prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, have now deemed alcohol stores as an “essential service.” 

Many states, like Kentucky, are also modernizing their laws to allow direct-to-consumer shipment of beverage alcohol from brewers, vintners, and distillers.

In August 2020, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed legislation authorizing the manufacture and sale of ice cream and other frozen desserts made with liquor in New York State.

Thus, it appears that, as the pandemic continues, industry will have more flexibility to market innovative products and comply with TTB’s updated regulations.


An Introduction to Life-Cycle Assessment for Packaging

One of the most common phrases associated with the ever-rising tide of sustainable packaging is LCA, an acronym I’ve had a passing familiarity with for a while. That includes knowing with certainty that the A does not stand for Analysis; the correct phrase is Life-Cycle Assessment. I didn’t want to be viewed as a sustainable greenhorn so to speak so that was my first learning on the topic back in the early 2000s.

In short, LCA is the determination of a package’s impact on the environment throughout its lifetime from start to finish. That data permits a robust amount of possibilities and virtual options for the packaging. A positive side effect is that it serves as a science-based method to avoid unintended greenwashing. At best unethical, greenwashing may be considered illegal.

Thus it was primarily for self-edification that I attended a session on “Lifecycle Assessments for Packaging: What You Need to Know” presented by Prashant Jagtap, president of Trayak, at the recent  Virtual Engineering Week, which was managed by this publication's parent company, Informa.