The most prominent motivator is value for money, which is particularly pertinent locally and throughout Africa. Here bulk packaging is an attractive proposition for juice and water, and especially relevant where fresh potable drinking water isn’t available.
’As these packs tend to contain high volumes of liquid – up to five litres – weight is a critical consideration,’ explains Polypet’s national divisional executive Wessel Oelofse. ‘Anything that can be done to reduce weight, while retaining robustness enhances the pack’s value proposition,’ he adds.
Leveraging this insight, Polypet (a division of Polyoak Packaging) has launched its latest range of PET bottles for bulk beverages including water, juice and wine. The bottles have been redesigned to reduce their weight and to improve top load strength, important for transit and storage. The smaller 38mm neck size means the matching closure is also lighter, further enhancing the pack’s value proposition.
‘We’re pleased to say that the improved design has achieved a weight reduction of over 15% while optimising robustness,’ Wessel says. ‘The move from an injection moulded 46mm closure to a smaller compression moulded 38mm closure makes decoration across the whole surface area possible, without having to avoid the injection point at the centre. We can also laser print inside the closure, enabling run promotional campaigns.’
The newly-designed five-litre bulk bottle is already on the market, and a four-litre version is soon to follow.
As shoppers often find bulk packs cumbersome and heavy to carry, African Closures has improved its 38mm carry handle to incorporate the comfortable grip feature that consumers associate with the 46mm version. According to Alan Caldwell, African Closures national executive, these carry handles are comfortable, lightweight and strong. ‘Moving from the 46mm closure and carry handle to the 38mm version delivers a weight reduction of almost 50% with associated savings in unit cost,’ he reports.
The 38mm carry handles are available in a variety of colours to help signpost category norms such as blue for water or red for wine.
Hot-fill PET containers grow in popularity
Another trend revealed by The Canadean Group’s research is a global decline in the popularity of glass in favour of rigid plastics and flexible packaging formats, increasingly used to lower costs – even for luxury foods. Rigid plastics share of the food packaging market is projected to grow at a rate of 4.2% between 2013 and 2018, largely owing to cost-reducing advantages for both brand owners and consumers.
Lightweight and durable, rigid plastics packaging facilitates product storage while reducing the risk of damage. Ultimately, from a consumer’s perspective, plastics packaging makes grocery shopping less of a chore, since it’s lighter and safer to carry.
Historically, a major benefit for glass and laminated cartons has been their suitability for hot filling and retort processing, enabling brand owners to offer preservative-free juices and sauces with long shelf life.
For these brands, a switch to PET bottles would have required the use of preservatives to maintain shelf life.
‘But the game has now changed,’ declares Polypet’s Wessel Oelofse. ‘Hot-fill PET is becoming a popular choice for preservative-free products. It offers a huge opportunities to meet consumers’ desire for natural, healthy products. The fact that the long shelf life can be retained and the risk of broken glass minimised is a great benefit to retailers and manufacturers.’
Polypet has now launched its first range of hot-fill PET bottles, available with matching 38mm closures. They’re ideal for pure juices and preservative-free pouring sauces used in food preparation, such as marinades and cooking sauces.
The generic 330ml and 500ml hot-fill PET bottles can be decorated using shrink or stretch sleeves to enhance branding. Embossing is also possible for customer-specific designs such as the new BOS Sports 500ml bottle.
Polypet worked with BOS to optimise the weight of the bottle and to create a design guaranteed to stand out from the competition on shelf. The bottles needed to withstand high filling temperatures of around 85ºC without panelling or distorting. The panel design allows the bottle to withstand high pressure heating and cooling. The special polymer used also improves the hot-fill PET bottle’s ability to withstand high temperatures.
The manufacture of these bottles involves a complex process with only a month permissible between injection moulding the preform, and stretch-blow moulding the bottle. After bottles are blown, they have to be filled within a few weeks.
Keeping the bottles hygienic during and between each stage is critical to optimise sterilisation and to achieve the desired product shelf life. Polypet is FSSC 22000 certified and adheres to strict international food safety standards and hygiene controls, essential in such a complex process.
‘We’re well placed to offer high-quality hot-fill PET solutions. We’re a one-stop shop, offering assistance with customer-exclusive designs, as well as a range of generic hot-fill bottles with stunning decoration options. We also offer technical support and filling equipment rentals,’ Wessel sums up. ‘We’re confident that our hot-fill bottles will become increasingly popular, particularly thanks to their cost-saving potential compared to other packaging formats.’