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Articles from 2020 In March


8 Dramatic Ways Wine Packaging Innovates

Wine Packaging Roundup examples
A roundup of eight great wine packaging options from bottle to label to closures to apps worth a look.

The global wine packaging market is experiencing modest growth. Valued at $22 billion in 2019, it’s expected to reach $25.8 billion by 2025, registering a CAGR of 2.65% over the forecast period of 2020-2025, according to a report from Mordor Intelligence.

However, what it lacks in market value acceleration it makes up for through ongoing innovation across a spectrum of packaging and options. These range from high-tech near-field communication-enabled labels to universal augmented reality, artificial intelligence, new bottle designs and sizes in aluminum, plastic and glass—including the latter with textures—and a truly space-age wine at the end.

Our roundup starts in a small way as in 250mL, which is the size of a new aluminum bottle designed specifically for wine that debuted fall 2019. Besides offering maximum portability, it’s handy, infinitely recyclable and, surprisingly, resealable.

And let’s just admit that it’s cute, too.

“Wine in cans is rapidly gaining popularity with annual sales projected to reach $70 million in 2019 in the U.S.,” explains Shawn Bonnick, president of KinsBrae Packaging, the bottle’s supplier. “KinsBrae PortaVino is a refined, yet unpretentious format that fits today’s on-the-go lifestyles and makes wine fun and accessible to a new generation of wine drinkers.”

After 9-10 months in R&D and with an invaluable assist from Montebello Packaging, which supplies the cap (see New tech reshapes aluminum beverage bottles, published July 2017), KinsBrae earned a patent pending on the design.

Versus glass, the unbreakable aluminum bottles are easy to handle and inexpensive to ship. KinsBrae offers custom sleeving for maximum shelf appeal for user occasions where glass bottles cannot go such as poolside or on golf courses.

“The reception has been fantastic,” Bonnick tells Packaging Digest. “We have several customers going into market.”

The first to market is Magnotta, a winery with 13 locations in Ontario, Canada, which introduced the bottle just last week.

The downsized format has big ambitions—it aims to compete directly with the industry standard 750mL. How? Bonnick points out that not only are three 250mL bottles more convenient for many consumers than one 750mL bottle, a threesome ships 25% lighter.

Another advantage is that wineries are interested in dropping the price point; a high-end wine in 750mL can be dropped in price by two-thirds to a more palatable $15-20 price point in the 250mL size, he explains.

Based on the enthusiastic reception, Bonnick looks to bring a 500mL version to market in the coming months.

While it primarily does business in Canada, KinsBrae Packaging is open to discuss the new format with US brands.

Free AI-driven AR for all U.S. wine labels.

 

Augmented reality (AR) is moving rapidly into the mainstream, with a tech start up announcing in February wide rollout of its wine-designed smartphone AR App.

How wide? The proactively bodacious plan from Winerytale expects to enable consumer engagement for the entire American wine industry. Content for more than 10,000 American wine brands is being gathered in readiness for a July 2020 launch that follows successful field trials in 2019.

“The App gives thousands of American wines the chance to use the tech as a proven sales pathway to the elusive millennial market,” says digital marketing expert Dave Chaffey, who heads the Winerytale team. “We've built the concept around the next generation of wine lovers discovering the authentic story behind the wine, while weaving in elements of social media and some unique user interaction.

"The concept is ideal for wineries looking to connect with millennials—the one market that has eluded the wine industry to date."

The App is built for scale and designed to work on any wine label, using artificial intelligence to recognize labels and AR to showcase the wine's backstory, with content streamed from the cloud.

Remarkably, wineries don't have to do anything and there's no cost, with a freemium model underpinning the aggressive rollout. The American expansion is hot on the heels of the rollout to all Australian wines, set for completion in the next two months.

This rPET bottle is a flat-out ecommerce breakthrough.

Ecommerce has proven such a must-have, high-growth market that one brand designed a breakthrough bottle optimized for the unique demands of this retail channel.

In fact, there’s never been a wine bottle quite like Flat Wines from Delivering Happiness Ltd., UK, trading as Garçon Wines, which started from scratch and threw out the assumptions that wine bottles must be round and made from glass.

Flat wine’s 750-mL bottle is so compact that it fits through residential mail slots and, in being on-trend and light as can be, is made from 100% food-grade, post-consumer recycled PET.

It claims to be remarkably more cost-effective, eco-friendly, and consumer pleasing for delivery, retailing, and the supply chain where each bottle saves more than 500g of carbon dioxide.

It’s hard to argue any of those points. Key facts (and vs 750mL glass bottles) are that they’re…

  • 87% lighter;
  • 100% recyclable;
  • 40% spatially smaller, which means that more than twice the amount of bottles fit on a pallet;
  • Stackable like books and save space at retail, at homes and everywhere;
  • Slightly taller than an average bottle, which distinguishes them on the dining table and enables greater merchandising presence in a retail setting, increasing visibility and driving sales.

Flat Wines were named a Diamond Award finalist in the 2019 Dow (DuPont) Awards.

Also, Amcor announced in February a collaboration with Garçon Wines to make the company's signature flat wine bottles available to the U.S. market. The collaboration will include producing the flat wine bottles with post-consumer recycled (PCR) PET plastic.

Images: Garçon Wines

A first in connected wine bottles.

 

 

With rare exception, near-field communication (NFC) is a consumer-engaging interface applied to bottles as a label or as part of a label.

Last August, Californian wine brand Böen part of Copper Cane Wines & Provisions by Joseph Wagner, partnered with Guala Closures and SharpEnd to launch first NFC-enabled wine bottles in the United States. The enabling tech for the platform is e-WAK, Guala Closures’ NFC-integrated aluminum closure for wine.

In a first for Europe and the second application in the world, the innovative aluminum screw-cap closures with NFC technology are being used by the Vigneti Massa wine estate in Italy to provide exclusive digital contents to consumers including information on the wine growing, vineyards, vine, tasting notes and expert reviews.

There’s also another key function: Product security. The NFC system serves as an anti-counterfeiting certification measure using a blockchain platform that provides a unique identification code for each bottle. This allows Vigneti Massa to protect sensitive and monitor data in real time.

A highly appealing label.

 

 

Peel-back labels are usually associated with pharmaceutical and medical product packaging, but Zardetto, a major producer of Prosecco, has put a creative spin on the concept. The brand comes via LLS (Leonardo LoCascio Selections), a division of Winebow Imports dedicated to premium Italian wines.

When unpeeled, the new dual-layered labels reveal an inside layer of colorful artwork that’s unique to each wine. Surprise phrases on the inside of the peel-away label on the Prosecco DOC Brut and Sparkling Rosé Extra Dry share contemporary Italian expressions, translated into English, that speak to the celebratory lifestyle embodied by Zardetto Prosecco. The back of the labels themselves are black and contain one of several Italian surprise phrases, followed by an English translation:

A che ora ci becchiamo per l’aperitivo?

What time shall we meet for aperitif?

Questa festa spacca!
This party rocks!

Ciao bella! Usciamo stasera?
Hi sweetheart! Will you go out with me tonight?

Ciao raga, come va?
Hey guys, how’re you doing?

Quanto sei diva!
You are a real superstar!

The label artwork was created by award-winning Italian design agency Robilant Associat.

Additionally, a new proprietary bottle shape was designed for the range, carrying the Zardetto name embossed in glass.

"We are thrilled with the look and feel of the new packaging, particularly the creativity of the labels, which are really striking and unlike anything we've seen in the category," says Ted Campbell, Senior Vice President and General Manager of LLS. "Our ultimate goal is for even more consumers to enjoy and appreciate the quality that Zardetto has always represented."

Label these as sustainably impactful.

 

Along with other products, wine packaging has also been infused with a notable amount of sustainable improvements. Apart from the primary package, the label is likely the second most noticeable aspect that also affects the overall impact of the design.

Avery Dennison Label and Packaging Materials introduced in late January the addition of six new facestocks to its Wine & Spirits Portfolio that not only deliver a high-end, shelf-appeal-enhancing experience via a premium look, finish and feel, they are also manufactured from sustainable materials that involve several atypical sources including cotton, hemp and citrus.

“Labeling technology must work harder than ever for the winemaker and retailer, and these new Avery Dennison collections go beyond helping a bottle stand out on the shelf,” says Vanita Marzette, senior product manager - Wine and Spirits. “Whether it’s telling a wine’s sustainability story, employing technology to directly engage with consumers, or ensuring a wine’s validity, labels can serve a variety of needs for the winemaker, retailer and end user.”

Examples include:

  • 70# Fasson 25% Black Cotton Feel Wet-Strength  a 70-pound black facestock with a tactile feel made with 25% cotton and 30% post-consumer waste (shown);
  • 70# Fasson 25% Cotton Feel Wet-Strength, a 70-pound white cotton facestock that  delivers a soft cotton felt finish made with 25% cotton and 30% post-consumer waste;
  • Fasson 25% Hemp, a premium facestock made with 25% hemp and 75% post-consumer waste to meet demand for label materials containing both organic materials and recycled content.

 The company also has available interactive near-field communication (NFC) and augmented reality (AR) labels.  

New shape and textures in glass.

 

Tried and true, glass packaging continues to hold the largest market share in the wine category.

“Diversity of color, shape, printing, and finishing options are some of the factors fueling product demand in the wine industry,” reports Mordor Intelligence. “The other major advantage of glass packaging is that it can be molded into various shapes and sizes, facilitating its use across different industry verticals.”

Which sets up news about a new line of glass bottles from Ardagh Group, Glass – North America. The largest domestic manufacturer of glass bottles for the U.S. wine market, Ardagh announced in late January six new sophisticated new glass wine bottle designs. These include three new textures, Remo, Cuadras and Vina designs, that use unique shapes and textures to deliver an emotional connection to the consumer through a more interactive experience that engages their senses.

An expansion of Ardagh’s extensive portfolio, the new designs include three new texture options, one 375mL Claret style bottle with a Stelvin finish, one 375-mL Clarett-style bottle with a cork finish and one 375 mL Burgundy-style bottle with a Stelvin finish.

For wineries looking for single-serve options, Ardagh’s three new 375mL bottles allow consumers to mix-and-match varietals and sample products without committing to a multiserve format.

“Innovative bottle designs and single-serve packaging formats provide wineries with opportunities for differentiation in today’s market,” said John T Shaddox, Chief Commercial Officer for Ardagh’s North American Glass business unit. “Ardagh’s new glass wine bottle options leverage a modern, premium look and feel that respond to consumer interest.”

For more information is on the new bottles, click here.

An out-of-this-world wine shipment.

12 bottles of red wine are secured in protective containers for the voyage to the International Space Station. Photos: Olivier Bailly-Maitre

Last and certainly not least, on November 2, 2019, at 9:59 a.m. ET, Space Cargo Unlimited (SCU), a one-of-a-kind European “New Space” start-up, launched from Cape Canaveral, FL, bottles of red wine to the International Space Station (ISS). Done in partnership with Thales Alenia Space and Nanoracks, the bottles are to be aged in space for 12 months before returning to Earth. Packaging Digest was informed by SCU’s Maryse Camelan that the wine was successfully onboard the ISS on November 4.

The delivery represents a first for glass packaging: Quartz reported that “a dozen bottles of the finest wine…are believed to be the first glass bottles flown to the orbiting laboratory.”

The 12 bottles of red wine will remain in the ISS for a year and then will be compared with their earth-bound equivalent.

According to Camelan, this was the first of a six-step Mission WISE (Vitis Vinum in Spatium Experimentia), the first comprehensive, privately-led, applied-research program on the ISS that seeks to develop innovative solutions for the future of food and agriculture on Earth. Step 2 was ALPHA, a payload that blasted off December 11 from Van Horn, TX, with vine calluses for research aboard Blue Origin’s New Shepard space vehicle. Step 3 CANES set for March 6 liftoff involves 320 vine canes (Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon) that will remain six months in the ISS before returning to earth. The three remaining experiments will be spaced throughout 2021.

Quartz went on to report that the bottles are part of an most unusual funding plan: “The research will be paid for in part by a luxury goods partnership that will deliver a customized chest full of objects flown to space to ultra-wealthy sponsors, called patrons, who back the project. The highlight of that chest will be a bottle of the wine. The idea is that this would be an artistic collector’s item unlike any other.”

I’ll say it is. And we end our wine roundup on a very high note indeed.

Medical Packaging

Medical Device Packagers Want Greater Sustainability, But Unsure How to Get There

Medical Device Packagers Want Greater Sustainability, But Unsure How to Get There
Photo credit: ra2 studio – stock.adobe.com

Healthcare packaging might be behind from a sustainability point of view — when empty packages are in the same environment as human blood, safety supersedes recycling, as well it should. But the amount of packaging being recycled or the amount of recycled-content material in packages might change soon, if industry professionals, especially younger ones, turn their interest into action.

Attendees at the recent HealthPack 2020 shared their opinions on several topics in an audience poll. The slideshow shares the results of the four questions asked and answered regarding sustainability (click "View Gallery" above to see the charts).

During the polling, a panel of medical packaging experts commented on the topics. One of the panelists, Ondrea Kassarjian, senior manager, Packaging & Labeling, at Hollister Inc., acknowledged the sustainability challenges for medical packaging.

“Sustainability is important. It’s on everybody’s radar. But in our industry, we have a lot of constraints on how to get there,” Kassarjian said. “We often think about material selection and configuration. But there’s really a full lifecycle for the product development and the supply chain that our products have, both from materials coming into our factories and finished goods out.”

Kassarjian continued, “It’s interesting … putting recycled materials in a sterile barrier package … I think most of us aren’t comfortable to get there yet. But I suspect, and this data is showing, that this is the direction we might like to be moving in. The challenge is, how do you control that, how do you trace that, how do you ensure biocompatibility and things like that.”

Another panelist, Georgianna Gallegos, vice president of global quality, Oliver Healthcare Packaging, shared that customers are asking more about package downsizing than recycling right now.

Jennifer Benolken, medical device manufacturing (MDM) and regulatory specialist, packaging engineering, Tyvek, Medical Packaging, at DuPont, and fellow panelist, explained, “Ultimately, it’s always economics, and right now there’s no money in [recycling]. At some point there will be. But recyclers themselves are struggling to figure out how to take these materials on, and what to do with them.”

Kassarjian agreed. “That’s part of the struggle: the lack of infrastructure to take in these materials and do something with them,” she said. “Even though some of our industry is moving towards recycle-ready and lightweighting, there might not be a place to take that material to once it’s the end of its lifecycle.”

Benolken pointed out that she visits a lot of schools to talk about packaging and “younger engineers often ask about sustainability with respect to medical device packaging.” She reminded the audience that they can get help and guidance from the Healthcare Plastics Recycling Council.

During the Q&A, an attendee asked, “[GPOs (group purchasing organizations)] have a lot of questions about recyclability; post-consumer content. But it seems like it’s more to check a box than there is real business drive. Is anyone leveraging this to be a value-added proposition?”

Kassarjian answered, “It can be a value-added proposition. Companies do need to be careful about what they’re claiming though.”

Benolken also commented, “I’ve had customers indicating similarly that GPOs are making decisions based on sustainability and recyclability because the products they are comparing for a particular contract are so similar in other ways they don’t have a differentiator. At this point, if companies can at least say ‘My packaging is recyclable,’ that may give them a competitive advantage over someone else that doesn’t have that claim, even though it may be the same materials. It’s more economic now but, at some point, it actually becomes a reality.”

“It seems to be regional too,” Kassarjian added. “I’m hearing more about competition based on environmental claims in Europe than in the US right now.”

Packaging Community Responds to the COVID-19 Outbreak

Packaging Community Responds to the COVID-19 Outbreak
Craft distillery Cardinal Spirits ramps up its production of hand sanitizer from “from side hustle to full time.”

Most packaging professionals have always felt they contribute a vital service to the world. They do. That’s more evident to the general public now because of the coronavirus pandemic. Here’s how the packaging community has been responding to the crisis.

 

Virtual learning opportunities abound.

Most people are taking the social distancing edict seriously. Thank you. We are finding that there is a lot of work we can do remotely.

In my earlier article “4 Ways Packaging Can Help During the Coronavirus Crisis,” I asked you to keep focused on the important packaging issues, and to keep the conversations / learnings going. As predicted, virtual events have ramped up now that in-person group events are temporarily nixed.

For example, the Sustainable Packaging Coalition had to cancel its highly valued SPC Impact conference, scheduled for late March/early April. But several sessions have been retooled as free webinars. Click here to see all the topics and times. Hurry, though, because some are taking place as soon as March 31.

 

Silver lining: Cooped up consumers may recycle more.

Sustainability has been and will continue to be one of the hottest issues in packaging. Even during the pandemic?

George Valiotis, CEO of glass recycler PACE Glass, thinks so.

He is predicting an uptick in sustainable practices like recycling because more people are working from home. People are consuming more materials there now, so Valiotis anticipates curbside recycling will increase by 30% to 40%.

Want to know what other consumer behavior has been affected? In a March 18 survey, L.E.K. Consulting heard from about 2,600 Americans on what they think about the outbreak’s severity and effect on the economy. Respondents also reveal what it’s meant so far for their work, leisure activities, and spending priorities. Bottom line? US consumers expect hard times ahead financially for a while.

Meanwhile … across the pond in Europe, the prognosis about recycling is quite different.

In the Waste Management World article “European Markets for Recycled Materials React in the Face of Coronavirus,” senior editors Mark Victory and Matt Tudball for Recycling at Independent Commodity Intelligence Services (ICIS), see the European recycling markets “reeling” because of the COVID-19 pandemic. They say that staff shortages may limit the ability of smaller recyclers to manage cash flow if they are unable to operate for a while. But, they also note that, of wider concern, is the impact on getting materials to and from recyclers because several countries across Europe have closed their borders, restricting the movement of goods and people. Of course, the situation in Europe is highly fluid, so we’ll have to wait to see what transpires.

 

Brands refit packaging lines to produce needed supplies.

To combat the spread of COVID-19, breweries, distillers, and others changeover to package sanitizers to supplement inadequate supplies. Major brands Pernod Ricard and Paris-based luxury goods company LVMH, as well as several other brands, have stepped up. Read our March 24 article here.

Since then, we’ve heard from Cardinal Spirits, a craft distillery in Bloomington, Indiana. The company’s director of communications, Erica Sagon, tells us that its hand sanitizer operations have gone “from side hustle to full time. By the end of the week, we’ll have made 5,000 gallons of hand sanitizer, much of which we’ve donated. And by early next week, 5,000 gallons more.”

Global leader in compounding pharmaceutical production and an 503B FDA-registered outsourcing firm with cleanroom production facilities, Qualgen is producing hand sanitizer — in 16-ounce, 32-ounce, gallon options, and larger-batch forms for tote tanks — as well as saline, dextrose, and common-mix intravenous solutions (IVs), as well as some other key pharmaceuticals, for home health and hospitals.

 

 

 

Packaging industry groups pledge support.

• The International Packaging Press Organisation (IPPO) compiles packaging-related coronavirus content from its global members, editors and freelancers who write about packaging.

• The Flexible Packaging Association asks for clarity regarding federal, state, and local government proclamations distinguishing “essential” business operations from mass population event limitations. According to the association, “FPA and its members are vital to the supply chain when addressing the needs of U.S. consumers in responding to the COVID-19 crisis.  It is of fundamental importance that the industry’s manufacturing facilities stay open and functioning in order to supply the necessary packaging consumer product companies and retailers need to supply goods the public needs through this health crisis.”

• From PMMI president/CEO Jim Pittas: “At this time, EXPO PACK México, Annual Meeting and PACK EXPO International and Healthcare Packaging EXPO remain scheduled to take place as planned. …This is a difficult time, but we will get through it. Our customers – and ultimately, consumers – rely on our industry now more than ever, and we will not let them down. PMMI is here with you and for you. We will get through this crisis together, stronger than before.”

• AMERIPEN’s COVID-19 resource section offers fact-based resources about how the packaging industry is working to protect all of us and the value packaging can bring in the fight against novel coronavirus.

• The Tag and Label Manufacturers Institute (TLMI) petitions government to recognize the industry and its members as “essential business operations.”

PAC Packaging Consortium asks the Canadian Federal and Provincial Governments to designate the packaging supply chain an essential service.

• The Plastics Industry Association (PLASTICS) President/CEO Tony Radoszewski requests all local, state, and federal governments to include plastic resin and plastic product manufacturers as “essential.”

Radoszewski also petitions the Department of Health and Human Services to investigate and make a public statement on the health and safety benefits seen in single-use plastics, including packaging.

Not everyone agrees, though. International campaign group A Plastic Planet co-founder Sian Sutherland tells Packaging Digest, “This is classic example of shocking opportunism from the plastics lobby, aka the fossil fuel industry. They want to use an international health crisis as an excuse to water down plastic bans, which are vital in the fight to save nature from the global waste crisis.” And Miriam Gordon, program director of Upstream Solutions, says in her blog “Plastics Industry Exploits Coronavirus to Prop up Single-Use Plastics,” “We are appalled that the plastics industry is using the American people’s fears about the coronavirus to push for making more single-use plastic.”

• America’s Midwest is a hub for package printing. On March 27, Printing Industry Midwest (PIM) implored Minnesota’s Governor Walz to reverse his categorization of print- and paper-related industries as Non-Essential Businesses.

Photo courtesy of Printing Industry Midwest (PIM).

EUROPEN, the European Organisation for Packaging and the Environment, petitions the European Commission, to maintain the necessary supply of food and hygiene products, as well as medicines, to citizens throughout Europe during the COVID-19 pandemic. With many countries closing their borders, some deliveries of packaged products and packaging materials have been delayed or disrupted. The organization asks, “To guarantee the continued uninterrupted flow of (packaged) goods, the Commission needs to recognize packaging and its raw materials as essential and to open the designated priority lanes, the ‘green lanes’ for their intra-EU transport.”

• The Robotic Industries Association publishes “A3 Special Report: How Robots and Automation are Fighting Covid-19,” which outlines “how robots and automation are playing a critical role in helping to safeguard people and process the supplies that humans need as they shift to remote working and home learning.”

 

Packaging suppliers stay on the job to fulfill your needs.

Here are just some of the packaging suppliers that have announced their support, especially for customers in essential businesses:

SencorpWhite modifies thermoforming machines to form face masks for medical professionals combating COVID-19.

Photo courtesy of SencorpWhite.

TPH Global Solutions, a Chicago-based retail packaging, display and supply chain company, along with its Chicago-area manufacturing partners — Dordan Manufacturing, Mercury Plastics Inc., Adams Foam & Rubber, Assemblers Inc., and Petra & Holum — are collaborating to manufacture up to 500,000 plastic face shields by the end of April for frontline medical personnel in the coronavirus effort. The companies expect to ramp up production for up to 2 million face shields within the next 60 days, according to David Schmidt, president and chief operating officer of TPH.

Photo courtesy of TPH.

• Plastic packaging manufacturer Placon is also scaling up production in two of its manufacturing facilities to help get plastic personal protective equipment (PPE) to healthcare workers.

Photo courtesy of Prent.

• And plastic thermoforming company Prent has already designed, produced, and donated plastic face shields to medical workers — all done in just 48 hours. It will continue to dedicate an entire production line to making the face shields for hospitals across the country as long as needed.

Photo courtesy of Polar Leasing.

• For critical products in the cold chain, Polar Leasing offers 24/7 backup refrigeration during COVID-19 crisis. Bart Tippmann, president of Polar Leasing, says, “Polar Leasing has prioritized an additional 300 new walk-in refrigerator and freezer units from our manufacturer Polar King International to meet the high demand for both short- and long-term rentals in healthcare, supermarket, and government facilities across the United States and Canada. We now have expanded beyond 80 distribution depots across the United States and in some cases can deliver orders within 24 hours.” 

• To help customers and partners keep production lines going and to enable businesses to continue to function while many are working from home, ABB’s Robotics & Discrete Automation business is offering key software services free of charge to its customers until December 31, 2020. Among the services included are condition monitoring and diagnostics, asset management software and remote troubleshooting and monitoring of production lines for the delivery of important supplies.

Photo courtesy of ABB.

• A real-time COVID-19 dashboard on the website of international beauty packaging manufacturer and provider Quadpack helps keep stakeholders informed of the effects of the virus on the company’s global operations.

C-P Flexible Packaging has introduced virtual press check capabilities for customers in critical infrastructure industries, allowing them to approve packaging graphics remotely using sophisticated light booths, 4K webcam equipment, and secure videoconferencing software.

Keyence Corporation of America is also providing customers virtual demos of its equipment — sensors, measuring systems, laser markers, microscopes, and machine vision systems.

• Suppliers telling Packaging Digest they remain open to support their customers, especially those working in “essential” industries, include:

Enercon, manufacturer of induction cap sealers and corona, plasma, flame, and ozone surface treating systems.

Flexicon, manufacturer of bulk bag and drum packaging machines and conveyors.

INX International Ink Co., manufacturer of inks and coatings for commercial, packaging, and digital print applications.

Box Latch Products, maker of reusable box closures.

The Packaging Lab, supplier of custom printed pouches and film in 24 hours using digital printing and highly automated workflow.

Yupo, manufacturer of premium synthetic substrates for packaging and labels.

 

The nation’s supply chain is delivering.

Distribution packaging is working hard to ensure timely delivery of vital packaged goods.

While direct-to-consumer deliveries are helping supply us without having to leave the house, the vast majority of materials in America still move by pallet load, and mainly by truck.

The American Transportation Research Institute uses real-time Global Positioning System (GPS) to track freight flows. Analysis of recent data shows that “Trucks are continuing to move — in many cases faster than usual — to respond to the demands placed on the industry by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

In a press release, the association said the results can be explained by several COVID-19 related factors: First is the dramatic reduction in commuter traffic, allowing trucks to operate at higher speeds, particularly during traditional rush hours. Second, is the continuous 24/7 truck operations that generate higher average truck speeds across nearly all hours of the day.

The American Trucking Association’s president and CEO Chris Spear said in the same press release, “Normally, ATRI’s bottleneck data is used to show us where the problems are on our highway system, but during this period of extreme uncertainty, the data is showing us where the solution is — in the back of America’s trucks as professional drivers continue to quickly and safely deliver life-sustaining medical supplies, food, fuel and other essentials to Americans when they need it most.”

Well said.

 

On a personal note …

Former Packaging Digest senior editor and frequent freelance writer Jenni Spinner gained some notoriety in The New York Times for helping to keep her Chicago-area community connected through singalongs. She chose “Livin’ on a Prayer” by Bon Jovi as their first song.

According to the Times, “Jon Bon Jovi expressed his support in an Instagram post.” How cool is that?!

What Brands Should Look for When Shopping for Packaging Online

What Brands Should Look for When Shopping for Packaging Online
Photo credit: Daisy Daisy – stock.adobe.com

Business-to-business ecommerce sales in the US are expected to reach $1.8 trillion by 2023, which will represent about 17% of all B2B sales, according to a Forrester report. With packaging being one of the slices of this pie, what do brand owners need to see on a supplier’s website before clicking “add to cart”?

We make decisions based on what we see. Why? Because that’s how we’re wired: The brain processes images 60,000 times faster than text.

This fact alone should be enough for brand owners that shop for packages online to pause and reflect on the quality of the product images. Customers today have increasing visual expectations when they shop online — if you can’t find good photos of what you’re looking for on one website, you’ll head to another supplier’s site where you can.

For a packaging suppliers, high-quality website visuals showcase every aspect of what differentiates their products: design, functionality, and customization options. They need strong visuals to stand out from the business-to-business (B2B) ecommerce competition and boost their bottom line.

Here are three things brand owners need to see before deciding to purchase packaging for their products online:

1. Packaging attributes.

A major purchase criteria for packaging customers is the product’s functionality. But static two-dimensional (2D) photos make it difficult to see smart designs in action — and 2D photos are often the default for packaging product photos.

With 360-degree product imagery, however, you don’t have to rely on a product description to figure out whether it’s the solution you’re looking for. Whether it’s a bottle, tube, pump, or box, a 360-degree photograph can capture every angle of its structural design and give you an up-close view of its shape and material.

Packaging supplier TricorBraun, for example, is able to display all the subtle details of its products so clients can more easily and confidently choose from similar options and easily pull together different configurations (above image is static; you must go to the website to see the moving image in action).

If packages have innovative design, bold colors, or a minimalist shape — characteristics popular among today’s consumers — a 360-degree view of the product lets the quality speak for itself.

Plus, if a bottle design uses a special kind of sturdy glass and an airless pump, for instance, you can view the bottle from different angles to see how it looks.

Still, customers do care about all of the information they can find written on a product page: The packaging’s composition, dimensions, and content capacity are important. A 360-degree image should complement a product page’s text. It’s all vital information, but a dynamic and interactive visual can translate technical information into an easily digestible experience.

2. Customization options.

Research from Ipsos shows that 72% of American consumers say their purchasing decisions are influenced by a product’s packaging design. Packaging customization, then, is a way brands can encourage purchases.

But brands don’t just want to plug in their inputs and hope for the best. They want to visualize the final product before they commit to an order.

Suppliers can make that possible by providing examples of branded packages or containers from other clients. If prospective customers have customized graphics, labeling, or printing options, an image of the final packaging design gives them a much stronger sense of what their product will look like once received.

Prospective buyers can then better envision their customers’ experience with the package.

3. Real life applications.

For food, beverage, and cosmetic product packaging especially, lifestyle photography — photos of products in the environment where they’ll be used — showcases real applications. For example, a custom-branded glass jar for face cream might be pictured on a bathroom counter. This helps brands envision how they can leverage the packaging product in their own marketing.

As the packaging industry makes the ongoing transition to B2B ecommerce, first-mover suppliers with strong online visuals will maintain a competitive edge.

By using 360-degree images to show off their most compelling offerings, suppliers clearly show the benefits of ordering their merchandise. By doing that, they make it easy for prospective customers like you to choose your next package — sight seen.

A bonus is brands can also use these same tactics when showing off their product packaging online for business-to-consumer ecommerce sales.

Medical Packaging

Medical Device Packagers Want Greater Sustainability, But Unsure How to Get There: Gallery

Healthcare packaging might be behind from a sustainability point of view — when empty packages are in the same environment as human blood, safety supersedes recycling, as well it should. But the amount of packaging being recycled or the amount of recycled-content material in packages might change soon, if industry professionals, especially younger ones, turn their interest into action.

Attendees at the recent HealthPack 2020 shared their opinions on several topics in an audience poll. The slideshow shares the results of the four questions asked and answered regarding sustainability.

During the polling, a panel of medical packaging experts commented on the topics. One of the panelists, Ondrea Kassarjian, senior manager, Packaging & Labeling, at Hollister Inc., acknowledged the sustainability challenges for medical packaging.

“Sustainability is important. It’s on everybody’s radar. But in our industry, we have a lot of constraints on how to get there,” Kassarjian said. “We often think about material selection and configuration. But there’s really a full lifecycle for the product development and the supply chain that our products have, both from materials coming into our factories and finished goods out.”

Kassarjian continued, “It’s interesting … putting recycled materials in a sterile barrier package … I think most of us aren’t comfortable to get there yet. But I suspect, and this data is showing, that this is the direction we might like to be moving in. The challenge is, how do you control that, how do you trace that, how do you ensure biocompatibility and things like that.”

Another panelist, Georgianna Gallegos, vice president of global quality, Oliver Healthcare Packaging, shared that customers are asking more about package downsizing than recycling right now.

Jennifer Benolken, medical device manufacturing (MDM) and regulatory specialist, packaging engineering, Tyvek, Medical Packaging, at DuPont, and fellow panelist, explained, “Ultimately, it’s always economics, and right now there’s no money in [recycling]. At some point there will be. But recyclers themselves are struggling to figure out how to take these materials on, and what to do with them.”

Kassarjian agreed. “That’s part of the struggle: the lack of infrastructure to take in these materials and do something with them,” she said. “Even though some of our industry is moving towards recycle-ready and lightweighting, there might not be a place to take that material to once it’s the end of its lifecycle.”

Benolken pointed out that she visits a lot of schools to talk about packaging and “younger engineers often ask about sustainability with respect to medical device packaging.” She reminded the audience that they can get help and guidance from the Healthcare Plastics Recycling Council.

During the Q&A, an attendee asked, “[GPOs (group purchasing organizations)] have a lot of questions about recyclability; post-consumer content. But it seems like it’s more to check a box than there is real business drive. Is anyone leveraging this to be a value-added proposition?”

Kassarjian answered, “It can be a value-added proposition. Companies do need to be careful about what they’re claiming though.”

Benolken also commented, “I’ve had customers indicating similarly that GPOs are making decisions based on sustainability and recyclability because the products they are comparing for a particular contract are so similar in other ways they don’t have a differentiator. At this point, if companies can at least say ‘My packaging is recyclable,’ that may give them a competitive advantage over someone else that doesn’t have that claim, even though it may be the same materials. It’s more economic now but, at some point, it actually becomes a reality.”

“It seems to be regional too,” Kassarjian added. “I’m hearing more about competition based on environmental claims in Europe than in the US right now.”

How Packaging Operations Can Use 6S in this Time of COVID-19

How Packaging Operations Can Use 6S in this Time of COVID-19
Photo credit: Dmitry – stock.adobe.com

Essential packaging plants need to keep in running. But how can you ensure employee safety in this time of COVID-19? An organizational system like “5S” is more important than ever. Implementing 5S can help prevent transmission of the disease between workers. In some instances, it might prevent transmission to a customer via contaminated product.

Here’s how to use 5S in this context.

1. Sort: Banish anything not required from the workspace. The more stuff you have, the more surfaces there are to be contaminated and the more time it takes to sanitize them.

2. Set in order: After banishing the unnecessary, organize what’s left. Better organization means less movement looking for things. This may be walking around the area or just rummaging through a pile of stuff on the desk or workbench. Movement increases risk of contamination and spreads it further than it might otherwise.

3. Shine: Make sure everything is clean. This is standard 5S but with an additional step  — decontamination. Wipe everything down with sanitizing wipe, spray with disinfectant, or do whatever is needed to assure that it’s not contaminated.

4. Standardize: It’s not enough to rely on individual judgement and memory. Develop a checklist to make sure that it is done systematically. Set a standard time to practice 5S, perhaps at the start of each shift or workday. Assign specific responsibilities so that Betty is responsible for this area, Joe for that one. They should initial the checklist when the task is complete.

5. Sustain: This is always the hardest of all the S’s, and is the responsibility of managers and supervisors to establish a 5S habit. When the program is implemented, they need to make sure that it is carried out on Day 2, Day 3, and so into the future. These programs are easy to start, hard to keep going.

So, what is the sixth S in the title (6S)?

6. Social distancing: Safety is sometimes 6S. But now we need an additional specific kind of safety — social distancing. It’s a lot harder to practice in a workplace than in other contexts. It’s hard to separate workers on a line or in a workcell. Office cubicles may be shared by two or more people. What about meetings? And how about people moving around delivering documents and materials?

Every workspace will present its own unique challenges but here are a few ideas.

It seems odd to hold Webex meetings when the participants are 10 feet away in the next office. On the other hand, it does keep the social distance. Zoom is a free alternative with the benefit that cameras allow non-verbal communication.

Depending on process layout, in a work cell or line, it may be possible to use simple partitions, such as this one from Versare Portable Products, to separate people working side by side.

It is convenient to have all those people together in workcells, but is it really necessary? Perhaps some of the tasks can be moved, even if just a few feet. Every bit helps.

Get creative. Even a workplace that requires people being in close proximity will have ways to practice social distancing.

6S may feel weird but better weird than ill.

Ecommerce/Supply Chain

Fit-to-Size Auto-Boxing Tech Speeds Ecommerce Packaging Sustainably

Fit-to-Size Auto-Boxing Tech Speeds Ecommerce Packaging Sustainably
CVP Everest system tightly packs hard or soft products into a custom box and lid and eliminates void fill.

CVP Everest system auto-boxes 1,100 custom-fit packages per hour, reduces volumes up to 50%, eliminates void fill and up to 20 stations, and is run by one or two operators.

An innovative new system auto-boxes 1,100 custom-fit packages per hour, requires only one or two operators, and offers a patented closing technology for more efficient and sustainable packaging.

Packaging by Quadient, a provider of automated packaging solutions, introduced in January the CVP Everest system, a high-velocity automated packaging technology that measures, constructs, seals, weighs and labels each single- or multi-item order of soft or hard goods in one seamless process.

It uses a patented gluing system to affix a custom-fit lid to each package for a faster fulfillment process, which also allows packaging of smaller items that wouldn’t be possible with a tape-sealed system. In addition, the system offers single or dual induct stations with one or two operators to produce high-volume speeds and maximize operational efficiency while eliminating up to 20 packing stations.

No bundling or other preparation needs to be done for products ahead of box loading.

The system has a dual induct station for two operators to place products on the CVP, and both operators have a touchscreen HMI panel. It operates using Beckhoff Automation controls, Packaging Digest learned.

Keeping up with consumer demands, the CVP Everest prioritizes retailers’ efficiency and sustainability. It creates fit-to-size packages, reduces package volumes by up to 50%, cuts corrugate material by 20%, and eliminates void fill. The patented gluing system creates a fully corrugate package that’s more easily recycled compared to taped packages. By creating the smallest parcel possible, more orders can fit in each trailer, greatly reducing a retailer’s carbon footprint while saving significant time and money on packaging and shipping costs.

Reduction in labor, materials, and shipping costs.

“The main drivers for return-on-investment are reduction in costs of labor, materials, and shipping, which includes DIM weight,” Bas van Steenoven, global director of marketing, automated packaging solutions, tells Packaging Digest.

Depending on the customers’ volume of boxes produced per year, the projected ROI is typically less than two years, van Steenoven reports.

The new CVP Everest is in pilot operation at one of France’s largest e-commerce businesses.

“It was installed in August for peak-season production, producing approximately 700,000 boxes in a few months,” says van Steenoven, who calls the installation “a production-ready pilot system that’s of a higher starting quality then a typical beta system. Our customer is quite happy with the results so far, as the machine delivered what we promised and even more.

“As well, the pilot proves the reliability and robustness, based on components from the company’s CVP Impack, to be on high level as needed in this industry.”

The vendor does not yet have installations in North America, “although the interest from the market is very high,” van Steenoven says. “Because we just launched this solution in the US, we expect the first NA shipments of the system to be in the second half of 2020.”

To watch a video of the CVP Everest in action, click here.

Beer Packaging

Beer Labels to Warm Your Doggone Heart

Beer Labels to Warm Your Doggone Heart
Motorworks Brewing's popularity soared after these shelter dogs appeared on limited-edition cans.

A touching tale of Motorworks Brewing’s beer can labels for a good cause that went viral and found homes for shelter dogs.

To put it mildly, Motorworks Brewing of Bradenton, FL, is a dog-friendly company.

“Collectively, ownership and staff own a lot of dogs,” Barry Elwonger, director of sales and marketing, tells Packaging Digest. “We’ve done something monthly for dogs over the six-and-a-half years we’ve been in business.”

For example, the brewer has a dog obstacle course and struck a wonderful relationship with the local Manatee County Animal Shelter. Also, “our awesome Beer Garden is both people- and dog-friendly,” notes Elwonger.

You get the idea.

On January 19 the brewery went a step further when it introduced a special series of four cans called Adoptable Dog Cruiser Label 4-Pack, or “The Four Packs” for short.

Each can boasts the large portrait of an actual shelter dog on the front, and on the back along with the required text is information about the shelter, as well as the dog bio and identification number.

While the brewer’s popular larger-volume standard brews are packaging using preprinted cans from Ball Corp., one-offs and limited-edition brews are decorated with pressure-sensitive paper labels from Bay Tech Labels for use on brightstock cans. Because Motorworks has been a customer for years and this was such a worthy cause, the supplier donated the labels. Motorworks credits photographer Gary Sweetman for the pooch portraits.

The Four Packs was a highly limited-edition that was sold on-premises only. However, it not only struck a chord with local customers, it turned out to be much more than that.

The Four Packs go viral.

In fact, The Four Packs went viral after they gained a foothold in social media and rapidly spread out from there in reaching the publicity-generating power of major media outlets including CNN, Good Morning America, The Ellen Show, USA Today and others.

If you watch or read just about any mass media, you may know the story.

But if you’re like me, you missed all that hoopla. I had no inkling until I read the business section of a recent weekend print edition (yes, print) newspaper. The one-paragraph item with small photo reported the program helped a St. Paul, MN, woman who saw the coverage and recognized one of the dogs. She reunited with a terrier she owned, Hazel, who had gone missing three years ago when she lived in Iowa. How the dog ended up in a Florida shelter remains a mystery.

When people from far-flung states like New York and Utah inquired about the dog cans, one mentioned something to Elwonger that sparked a resourceful spin-off idea. “He just wanted to collect the labels.”  Motorworks then offered for direct sale for $5 each of the 100 sets of the four labels that were leftover after the run, which quickly sold out.

It’s not all about dogs. In October, the brewer released a lavender ale, typically a spring offering, to support breast cancer.

As to the rest of the dogs’ tale: I’m happy to report that three of the four featured dogs found a home. The unclaimed fourth, Candy, gets the top-dog treatment in the next limited edition Elwonger has planned: A six-pack set for wider distribution throughout Florida, in which she will be appear prominently as the lead dog.

I expect there will be a happy ending to her story, too, which like most happy endings is also a happy beginning.

Brands Refit Packaging for Hand Sanitizers

Brands Refit Packaging for Hand Sanitizers
What happens when there’s a critical shortage of virus-fighting hand sanitizers in the midst of a pandemic? Beverage brands and others from BrewDog to Pernod Ricard come to the rescue. Image: Goffkein/Adobe Stock

To combat the spread of COVID-19, breweries, distillers, and others changeover to package sanitizers to supplement inadequate supplies.

The coronavirus pandemic is disrupting most aspects of life as numerous things we may have taken for granted pre-COVID-19 — work, sports, shopping, socializing, product availability, and more — have suddenly and dramatically changed.

I’ve kept up with the news — or the converse, avoiding it to unwind, which is even harder — but it all hit me March 12 at Walmart. That’s where I first saw entire rows of ordinarily packed shelves cleaned out, including toilet paper, paper towels and most if not all paper goods in the personal-care section.

Likewise, entire aisles of cleaning products along with the hand sanitizers section were empty, and other staples like soups and cereal were scarce.

It was sobering and somewhat shocking turning point.

A week later, hand sanitizers were still unavailable at Target, and an online check this week confirmed that Amazon was in the same bind. The unavailability of this recommended product as part of COVID-19 prevention could potentially be a live-or-death shortage.

But help has arrived from a surprising sources, brands — brand owners, distilleries, a brewery a luxury goods/perfumes maker, and a plastics supplier — that have never packaged hand sanitizers have stepped up. These responsive companies have quickly mobilized to fill the gap as the following examples from coast to coast and beyond show.

BrewDog out of Scotland, which has a U.S. presence, made a pivot from beer to sanitizer when it was contacted by the Aberdeen Royal Infirmary’s Intensive Care Unit after it ran out. The brewer filled and delivered the sanitizer for free.

Also in the UK, Dundee-based gin distillery Verdant Spirits plans to produce 400L/106gal of hand sanitizer, and set up a Go FundMe page to help with £2,500 duty cost, according to The Evening Standard.

Stateside, Shine Distillery in Portland, OR, is making free hand sanitizer for customers amid the coronavirus-driven shortage, which was sparked by a fortuitous eureka moment. It had been informally making a cleaning concoction out of undrinkable liquid leftover from distillation that led to redirecting of those jug-filled ingredients for hand sanitizing. The New York Post reported the story.

Spirit Hound Distillers in Lyons, CO, ordered a shipment of glycerin and hydrogen peroxide per a World Health Organization recipe and made a 48-gallon batch of 80% alcohol hand sanitizer and distributed them for free, noted the Denver Post.

Major alcohol brands are also mobilizing. Spirits giant Pernod Ricard, makers of spirits products from Absolut Vodka to Beefeater to Chivas Regal and select others scattered across an alphabet of iconic brands, is aiming to produce hand sanitizer via its Sweden-based vodka brand Absolut.

Last May, Packaging Digest reported on the company’s sustainable packaging efforts.

You’ll find a nice roundup of the topic and distilleries in U.S. News & World Report.

Companies in other markets have also rallied to the cause.

Among other products and sectors, London-based Ineos is a biofuels and polymer supplier for packaging and other markets. It’s also a leading European producer of the two key raw materials needed for sanitizers, isopropyl alcohol (IPA) and ethanol. The company plants are already running flat out and have been diverting more of of the ingredients to essential medical use and for filling personal size “pocket bottles.”  March 24 it announced plans to produce 1 million hand sanitizers per month in the UK to help with the European shortage and will replicate this in Germany. Ineos will provide sanitizer free to hospitals.

Paris-based luxury goods company LVMH, makers of fragrances for Christian Dior, Givenchy, and Guerlain, is devoting production to packaging hand sanitizer. The company expects to provide the French government with a 12 tons of hydroalcoholic gel, according to Dwell.

The FDA weighs in.

With apparently murky guidance to this emerging market amidst the fast-moving coronavirus and critical shortages, the FDA weighed in on the topic March 20 while outlining guidelines.

“We are aware of significant supply disruptions for alcohol-based hand sanitizers,” said Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Stephen M. Hahn, M.D. “Many manufacturers make hand sanitizers, and several have indicated that they are working to increase supply. In the meantime, these guidances provide flexibility to help meet demand during this outbreak. We will continue to work with manufacturers, compounders, state boards of pharmacy and the public to increase the supply of alcohol-based hand sanitizer available to Americans.”

4 Truths About Monobloc Packaging Machines

4 Truths About Monobloc Packaging Machines
High-speed monobloc bottling systems maintain precise control of containers throughout each stage. Photo courtesy of Krones Inc.

Before you set up your next packaging line, consider these pros and cons of monobloc packaging machines: container control and floorspace, and flexibility and maintenance.

Monobloc packaging machines combine two or more major functions in a single machine. The term is most commonly used to describe systems at the head end of a bottling line but can be applied to other machinery as well.

For example, this machine incorporates filling, capping and labeling on a single machine at about 80 products per minute.

For primary packaging, monobloc machines combine filling, capping, and labeling operations on the same machine base. Photo courtesy of Chase-Logeman Corp.

On a larger scale, other packaging machinery manufacturers provide high-speed monobloc machines that blow-mold, fill and cap on a single machine at speeds of 1,300 bottles per minute or more.

At the end of the line, monobloc machines can combine multiple secondary packaging functions onto one frame, such as a case erector-packer-sealer.

The pros.

Monobloc machines offer a number of advantages. The most relevant are (1) better container control and (2) floorspace efficiency.

In a typical bottling line, filling and capping are separate systems. The bottle enters the filler and is captured and positioned with a timing screw, starwheel, or other package-handling device. The bottle is filled, then released. A conveyor carries it to the capper where it must be captured and controlled again.

If the machines are separate, there needs to be a control system to match the speed of the capper to the filler. On lower speed lines, this is typically a sensor that starts the capper when bottles back up and stops it when bottles run out. More sophisticated systems can vary the speed of the capper to maintain a constant backlog.

In the past, some high-speed lines ran all machines off a single large motor with a line shaft connecting them physically. A timing screw synchronized the movement of bottles between machines.

These line shaft machines worked well controlling the bottles through the line but were bulky. They were precursors to monobloc machines.

This brings us to the second big monobloc advantage: floorspace.

In the bottle filler-capper-labeler example above, each of the three machines, if standalone, could take up roughly the same amount of floorspace as the one multi-function monobloc.

The monobloc is approximately 6 x 6 feet (36 ft2). The individual machines might be 4 x 4 feet each (48 ft2 total),not counting connecting conveyors. Floorspace is limited and expensive. Monoblocs conserve this valuable resource.

The cons.

It’s not all upsides. There are drawbacks.

One is flexibility. An individual filler can be repurposed elsewhere in another line or even industry. The same applies to the capper and labeler. A monobloc is designed for a specific series of operation. If the product requires a crimped cap instead of a screwcap, for example, it may be difficult or impossible to reconfigure the machine. If marketing decides that the bottle needs to be rectangular instead of round, the labeler will no longer work. Standalone machines will have more flexibility for reconfiguration as packages change.

Another drawback is maintainability. As more functions get crammed into a smaller space, complexity multiplies, and the machines get harder to work on.

If a standalone capper, for example, goes down, it may be possible to cap by hand or bring another capper to the line. If the capping, or any other section, of the monobloc machine breaks down, the entire machine is dead.

Monobloc or multiple machines? Each approach has its attractions. Before deciding which is right for your particular applications, consider each carefully.