South Africa is not often first in line when it comes to cutting-edge global innovation, but it has been in this instance and is only the third country to launch the Swedish packaging giant’s second-newest pack, with the Edge also making retail debuts in Germany and Brazil in the recent past. (Tetra Pak’s very latest development, announced but a few months ago is the Tetra Evero, the first aseptic carton bottle for milk, but that’s a story for another day).
The Edge’s availability to South African customers was timely, with Parmalat, one of the big three UHT milk players (the others are Clover and SPAR), actively looking to reinvent and revamp its EverFresh brand. It took up Tetra Pak’s offer to be the first and is now reaping the rewards of a 16-month business project by a 20-strong team that has involved well over R40-million in capex over two production sites, with complete lines installed at Parmalat’s plants in Parow, Cape Town, and Port Elizabeth.
‘It’s important for us to maintain and grow our share of the UHT market,’ comments Janine Greyling, Parmalat’s marketing manager for milk. ‘While it’s a healthy sector, driven essentially by the convenience factor, it’s also marked by many established and new competitors. So with this new package we’ve taken the opportunity to reinvigorate our EverFresh brand (after ten years in the Tetra Brik), adding a completely new, stand-out silhouette to the ambient dairy shelf. Furthermore, it allows us to generate valuable production efficiencies and offer consumers a package that has great functional benefits.’
The Parmalat pour
Parmalat’s extensive marketing campaign around the launch of the Edge, with the innovative LightCap 30 closure, centres around a key consumer USP, ease and efficiency of pouring – something that is perhaps not optimal with other UHT milk packs.
‘The Edge introduces a number of refinements designed to meet the needs of consumers of all ages. The sloping top makes it easier to access and grasp the ridged cap, which requires a low opening force. This also means that the package doesn’t need to be lifted high to use and, together with the 30mm wide opening, makes pouring easier and smoother,’ Janine says. ‘Simply unscrew the LightCap, pull out the tab and experience the perfect Parmalat pour – a continuous flow of milk and no spilling. The new pack also fits perfectly into the fridge door.’
In fact, this USP has generated two awards in Europe from German retail magazine Lebensmittel Praxis, winning a consumer-voted ‘Product of the Year 2011’ title and the retailer-voted ‘HIT 2011’, for a package that, ‘guarantees smooth pouring without spattering and making a mess’.
Those are not the only awards going its way. With the ‘greying’ of world populations, packaging designers are increasingly, and not before time, taking account of the special needs of consumers with hand weakness or disabilities such as arthritis. The Edge’s user-friendliness in opening, pouring and secure resealing has seen it designated “Package of the Year” by the Swedish Rheumatic Association.
‘We believe there is an extensive market of often neglected elderly consumers out there that will appreciate this move,’ notes Janine.
Another important aspect of the package that will please marketers are five visible printing surfaces and a square bottom format, meaning there’s a greater probability that brand imagery is facing out towards the shopper on the shelf. The fifth or sloping top panel adds eye-catching appeal and provides extra space for brand messages.
Material efficiency and sustainability
The top of the Edge is not just for looks and yet more clever functionality rests in its design, as Stuart Bruder, Tetra Pak key account director, explains: ‘It’s remarkable the big difference that a small angle can make to stacking and costs. The Edge makes for very smart, efficient and robust logistics. Its higher top edge acts as a support and facilitates stackability – the top of the package fits into the bottom folds of the one above it in a jigsaw effect. This results in an efficient use of space, allowing four layers to be stacked.’
It means 750 packages per pallet compared to 720 for the Tetra Brik Aseptic with SlimCap – an improvement of 4%. An obvious advantage is a reduction in pallets required, cutting down on transport-generated CO2 emissions. It also means that less product will be wasted from damage in transit.
Another key feature of the Edge is the ability to maximise the size of the opening while minimising use of raw materials. For instance, the LightCap is an industry first as it combines the Direct Injection Moulding Concept (DIMC) and Pre-Laminated Hole (PLH) packaging materials to create a resealable screwcap closure for milk, special milks, juices, nectars, still drinks and wines, etc.
Using a new evolution of the Tetra Pak A3/Flex iLine, the built-in DIMC applicator injects the closure neck through the packaging material before package filling and forming.
‘This technology minimises cap materials and handling to deliver lowest costs to producers. LightCap also achieves a 120% increase in pouring area against comparable cap systems giving consumers better flow and convenience,’ says Stuart.
‘With this line we can deliver 8 000 packages per hour with flexible volumes and capacity, which also allows producers to make use of existing processing and secondary packaging equipment,’ he adds. ‘Customer investment is also “future-proofed”, as the servo-driven QuickChange capability builds in flexibility to easily change between different package volumes and shapes, from one litre to 200ml, all on the same platform.’
During 2012, Parmalat will adopt Tetra Pak’s green PE LightCap 30 closures, made from sugar cane, and further increasing the renewable content of the package that already has Forest Stewardship Council certification.
‘The Tetra Brik Aseptic 1000 Edge LightCap 30 uses the least amount of raw materials for a functional protective package,’ comments Stuart. ‘It’s carton-based – so the main ingredient is paperboard, a renewable resource. Like other aseptic beverage cartons by Tetra Pak, very thin layers of polyethylene seal in the liquid and thin layers of aluminium protect the product from oxygen, flavours and light. After use, it can be flattened for easy, space efficient disposal and it’s fully recyclable.’
With Parmalat’s new-look milk only on shelf for a few months, initial sales data already indicates its success. ‘We’re where we want to be this early into the launch – and expect volumes to mirror its enthusiastic acceptance by the trade, and the stream of compliments on our customer care line,’ says Janine.
The Tetra Brik Aseptic Edge is proving, by all accounts, a marketing, production and commercial dream – how apt the name.