Due to consumer demand for aluminum beer bottle packaging, Anheuser-Busch has added two more brands to its collection of aluminum bottles. Source: Anheuser-Busch.

Due to consumer demand for aluminum beer bottle packaging, Anheuser-Busch has added two more brands to its collection of aluminum bottles. Source: Anheuser-Busch.

Anheuser-Busch adds to aluminum bottle collection

Due to the success of Anheuser-Busch's six aluminum bottles, the St. Louis, MO-based brewer has added Michelob Ultra and Michelob Ultra Amber to its collection of brands available in this format.

The Michelob Ultra and Michelob Ultra Amber 16-oz. aluminum bottles have been available in bars, clubs, restaurants, and supermarkets nationwide since mid-June. The bottles, produced by Exat USA, Youngstown, OH, feature a silver base color with a blended oval design in the center, in blue and dark amber colors respectively, that displays the brands' logos. The aluminum bottles are available in 4-, 15- and 24- packs.

According to Anheuser-Busch, consumers' desire for aluminum bottle packaging has led to an "overwhelmingly strong" demand. The brewer notes that last year the demand for the aluminum bottles was so high that bars and restaurants were selling out, which led Anheuser-Busch to double its capacity for the package by fall. The company's first quarter sales for this year increased 602 percent over the same 2005 period.

"We're always looking for innovative ways to reach adult beer drinkers, whether through creative packaging or new products such as Michelob Ultra Amber, which has experienced strong results since its introduction in February," says Eduardo Pereda, director, Michelob family, Anheuser-Busch. "It's important to keep beer fun, relevant and in step with the changing preferences of adults who enjoy beer. Aluminum bottles are a great way for us to further enhance the beer-drinking experience for many of our brands."

For more information:
Susan Chupak, Exal USA, susanchupak@exal.com, 330-744-2267

White Rock Distilleries' Pinnacle Vodka brand successfully converted from glass to a translucent blue 1.75-liter PET bottle. Source: Amcor PET Packaging.

Vodka brand's PET conversion reduces costs, retains image

In a switch to PET from glass that helped cut costs while preserving a unique brand image, White Rock Distilleries introduced its Pinnacle Vodka brand in a 1.75-liter translucent blue PET bottle from Amcor PET Packaging.

The Lewiston, ME-based manufacturer and importer of fine spirits and liqueurs originally launched its 1.75-liter size in a glass bottle that was sourced from Italy. The bottle was shipped to a facility in Montreal where the translucent blue hue was applied via a powder coating. The bottle was then sent to the US for filling.

"The length of the supply chain mandated the amount of inventory we had to hold. The European-sourced glass bottle, coupled with the decoration, made it an expensive package," says Joe Werda, director of operations, White Rock Distilleries.

"We chose Amcor because of its ability to work with unique bottle designs," explains Werda. "We gave them a design that we knew was difficult to replicate in plastic. Our goal was to end up with a bottle that was close enough in appearance to the glass version, but in PET."

The new bottle tapers in from the shoulder to the base, which has a taller profile than other commercial 1.75-liter PET bottles.

The conversion from glass to PET also allowed White Rock to offer a more competitive retail price.

"We are very pleased with the look and feel of the bottles-they are very high quality. Many consumers don't actually know that it is PET until they touch it," says Bill Dabbelt, vice president, sales, White Rock Distilleries.

Ruth Ann Church, Amcor PET Packaging, ruth.church@amcorpet.com, 734-302-2272

Reclosable aluminum beverage bottles

Ball Corporation and Tokyo-based Universal Can Company (UCC) entered into a licensing agreement for Ball to manufacture and sell aluminum beverage bottles. Ball is said to be the first company to license this manufacturing technology outside of Japan. Under the agreement, Ball will use UCC's commercial technology to manufacture the Alumi-Tek bottle and sell it in the US, Canada and Mexico. This reclosable aluminum beverage bottle is currently manufactured in Japan in sizes ranging from 10.5-oz. to 13.9-oz. The lightweight, recyclable bottle is suitable for a variety of beverages including carbonated soft drinks, juices, energy and coffee drinks and other beverages requiring retort processing.

For more information:
Ball Corporation; www.ball.com; 303-260-2103

Graham Packaging Company produced an updated plastic version of S. Martinelli & Company's trademark 10-oz. apple-shaped glass juice bottle. Source: Graham Packaging Company.

Get your apple a day in a convenient way

Watsonville, CA-based apple juice processor S. Martinelli & Company turned to Graham Packaging Company, York, PA, to update its trademark 10-oz. apple-shaped, glass juice bottle.

Martinelli wanted to maintain the unique apple-shaped bottle, which has been in use since the glass version was created in the 1930s, while tapping into "major growth opportunities with a clear plastic bottle," says S. John Martinelli, vice president and general manager of Martinelli. "Plastic containers are generally preferred for children's lunchboxes, family coolers, and for sporting events, beaches and similar uses.

"The clear, apple-shaped bottle tells the consumer that this is a 100 percent natural product," adds Martinelli. "It visually reinforces the fact that Martinelli's apple juices are made from fresh apples only, with no additives."

Martinelli requested a panel-less and label-free PET container that also had sufficient barrier properties to be processed on hot-fill equipment, says Paul Young, vice president and general manager of the PET business unit for Graham Packaging. The challenge of maintaining the shape of the bottle when the contents cooled after being hot-filled was met by using liquid nitrogen dosing in the bottle's headspace. "When the bottle is filled and heated, the liquid nitrogen expands as it becomes a harmless, inert gas that then counteracts the normal volume reduction during cooling," explains Charles Simpson, senior product development engineer for Graham.

Although using nitrogen is commonplace in water bottling, "it has never been done like this before," says Simpson, claiming that no other company has been able to successfully use liquid nitrogen dosing at the hot-fill temperatures Martinelli uses. Adding this liquid nitrogen flushes out the oxygen, which also improves the juice's shelf life.

For more information:
Paul Young, Graham Packaging, paul.young@grahampackaging.com, 717-849-8579

McCormick's microwavable sauces in stand-up pouches help consumers easily add something special to meals. Source: Ampac Packaging LLC

Microwavable sauces spice up a meal

McCormick & Co. kicked its offerings up a notch with a new line of sauces in microwavable, retortable stand-up pouches from Ampac Flexibles-Converted Products, Cincinnati, OH, a unit of Ampac Packaging. This is the first time wet sauces are being marketed in a retort pouch rather than in glass in the US, says Ampac

McCormick's Finishing Sauces offer consumers five different, 5-oz. microwavable varieties to boost meals including Honey Mustard, Red Burgundy Wine for Beef, Roasted Chicken Gravy with Herbs, Creamy Mushroom and Roasted Beef. Each 5-oz. pouch makes two to three servings and can be either microwaved or poured into a saucepan and heated. Before microwaving, consumers cut the pouch diagonally across a score line printed on the back panel to allow venting during heating and help with pouring.

In order for the stand-up pouches to be both retortable and microwavable, Ampac Flexibles developed a structure without a foil layer that could also withstand retort processing. The result is an adhesive lamination that is (outer to inner layer) reverse printed, high-barrier polyester/oriented nylon/polypropylene.

"We wanted to offer consumers a package that is easy-to-use and does not require refrigeration before it is opened," notes Stefanie Woodhouse, product manager, Finishing Sauce product line, McCormick. "We also wanted the package to have a shelf life of at least 12 months."

To help achieve the easy-to-use aspect, Ampac Flexibles developed "cool grip" heat seals on either side of the pouch. These grips are located on opposite edges of the upper half of the package and create a way for consumers to safely handle the package after microwaving.

While the front and back panels of the pouch are printed with product, usage and ingredient information, the bottom gusset is intentionally left unprinted so that consumers can view the sauce. "Clear structures can often be challenging to print," explains Craig Rutman, director of sales, Ampac Flexibles. "For this structure we used special inks that could withstand retort temperatures. We were also going after opaque coverage on both the front and back panels to execute the best possible graphics for McCormick."

Both the artwork and pouch design help portray an upscale image, says Woodhouse. "The product offers consumers who are cooking smaller meals, or heating leftovers, a way to take preparation to a higher level."

For more information:
Craig Rutman, Ampac Flexibles div. of Ampac Packaging, ampacflexibles@ampaconline.com, 513-671-1777

World Cup soccer fans got a kick out of Coca-Cola's special- edition soccer-shaped PET bottles. Source: Graphic Packaging International.

Soccer-shaped PET bottle celebrates the World Cup

Coca-Cola has a history of celebrating the World Cup with special edition decorated bottles. For the 2006 World Cup held in Germany, Coca-Cola UK produced a unique PET Coke bottle in the shape of a soccer ball.

The 250-ml bottle is available in both regular and Diet Coke and is supported through promotional display material to make an impact at the point of purchase. As part of the campaign, Graphic Packaging International, Marietta, GA, took on the challenge of automatically packing a 2x2 multipack wrap of these uniquely shaped containers at line speed.

This was achieved using Graphic Packaging's Marksman 1400 wrap machine recently installed at Coca-Cola's Sidcup, UK, plant.

Keith Brimble, Graphic Packaging International, keith.brimble@graphicpkg.com, +44 117 988 2378

Packaging system for single-serve creamers
In order to meet demand for single-serve coffee creamers, Tetra Pak introduced a new packaging line for the Tetra Classic Aseptic (TCA) 20-ml package. This new Tetra Pak A1/Mini operates at more than double the speed of the earlier version, increasing output to 21,600 packages per hour for the 20-ml package. The new version of the TCA 20ml package is easy to open and dose and is appealingly shaped, says Tetra Pak.

Tetra Pak; www.tetrapak.com; +46 46 36 34 31