Beverage Multipacks, Beer Can Carriers and Cluster pack options.
Most beverage products these days are sold in multipacks/cluster packs in grocery stores and bottle shops. The convenience of having 4 or 6 packs helps in reducing logistics costs and quick sale of the product. The need to have product differentiation, sustainability and aesthetic appeal has meant that there is constant evolution of multipack products in the market. Traditionally, multipacks were sold in full wrap-around cardboard sleeves, basket cardboard wraps or were shrink wrapped together to form a single SKU (stock keeping unit). However, with the proliferation of the craft beer and niche beverage products market, the need to have alternative options to cluster packs and multipacks has increased manifold. Some of these newer options are slowly gaining market share because of their practical and economic utility. Below is a list of technologies and machinery offerings that cater to cluster pack and multi-pack automation in the food and beverage industry. * Full wrap-around sleeve / partial cardboard sleeves options: Companies like WestRock, Graphic Packaging, and Pack Service S.A. (Spain) provide various solutions for cardboard cluster pack automation. Many of these companies thrive on selling paperboard and provide their automation solutions on amortization basis to ensure long term contracts for cardboard material sales. These cardboard sleeves provide adequate marketing opportunities for the brand owners and are a trusted way of offering your products in multi-packs that are made of sustainable materials. For many products, the cardboard used in these multipacks is “Wet-Strength Beverage Board” and have special resins and coatings, this paper board is designed to meet the needs of beverage producers and supply chain handling challenges. It will retain most of its strength when wet which is the real benefit of this grade of board. The initial costs of the machine and footprint required for the automation for this style of multi-packs could be prohibitive for many manufacturers having slow speed beverage production lines. They would need to manage the manual task of using these sleeves OR rely on semi-automated options. The real impact of these products on the environment and the accuracy of the sustainability claims are also debatable. The cost per unit varies quite a bit based on the volume of the product that is being manufactured, so the bigger manufacturers may have an advantage over smaller manufacturers. * Shrink wrap options for multi-packs: There are many options for shrink wrapping multi-packs; slow speed economic automation solutions from multiple suppliers, and fast automation solutions from beverage industry automation leaders like Krones, KHS, Ocme, and SMI. However, single use plastics and shrink wrap film has become an environmentally risky option. Australian Packaging covenant and most Australian industry groups have committed to using 100% recyclable or environmentally friendlier alternatives by 2025. In Australia, within supermarket chains, there are a reduced number of cluster pack products that are sold in shrink wrap. Water bottles seem to be an exception, although that is more likely to be an economic reason than anything else. * Plastic Rings for Cans/Paktech, Hi-Cone can carriers: Paktech came up with plastic can carrier rings for cans about a decade or so ago, and with the rise of craft brewery industry, they have provided an economic option to multiple breweries and food and beverage companies. It is a practical solution wherein can tops are covered with plastic rings and automation solutions can be achieved for slow speed production lines relatively easy and within a very small footprint at a reasonable cost. Apparently, the resin used in these plastic rings is 99% PCR (post-consumer resin) and it can be recycled, resulting in lesser greenhouse emissions. However, the sustainability impact for these plastic rings is debatable. Companies like Paktech, Fibre King, American Canning, Codi, Alpha etc. manufacture machines to apply these can carriers. In Australia, multiple companies are using these Paktech plastic can carriers and it serves the purpose pretty well. Paktech Plastic Rings Applicator * Snap Pack / Glue dots solution for Cluster Packs: Carlsberg Group and KHS subsidiary NMP Systems have cooperated to create an innovation for can beer packs in the recent past. Snap Pack groups beverage containers into a stable, convenient and easily separable pack using the dots of adhesive. Apparently, this adhesive works without damaging the printing ink and lacquer on the can, so there is no impact on the aesthetics once the cans are separated. It requires fraction of material than the conventional multipack and reduces energy consumption for multi-packs during production by about 60 to 70% It is a relatively new concept and it remains to be seen as to how well it is accepted by the market and how well it serves its objective on the sustainability front. * KeelClip, KlippaKan, CanCollar, FishBone: These are the new products in paperboard can cluster options and are used on the top of the cans only, thereby using less material and work as an alternate option for multi-packing. Graphic Packaging, Johnston Packaging, WestRock and Atlantic Packaging have come up with these solutions and as of now these solutions are being tested in the market to see their adoption, acceptance and sustainability value. These are environmental friendlier options and may become an alternate to plastic ring can carriers, these products definitely seem to have potential. * Grip-Pak, Craft-Pak Can Carriers: These are relatively flexible plastic can carrier options and use less plastic than the other can holders. Grip-Pak is made with LDPE material and quite an economical option. Although, the perception about plastic waste and impact on environment has some negative connotations with these alternative. There are some environment responsible options available for these types of can holder as well, although these can cluster pack types are not popular in Australia. * E6PR and Biopak Can holders: These are environmentally friendly options made with fiber by-products waste OR sugarcane pulp. The E6PR rings were launched in January 2018. These innovative sustainable eco rings are made from fiber by-product from the food and beverage industry, and are compostable, biodegradable and 100% plastic free! E6PR offers a wide range of application solutions; from a manual PAD to fully automated high-speed lines, facilitating adoption by beverage manufacturers of all sizes. What else have you seen in the market for primary containers holders, Can Carriers and Multipacks. Let us know what you think about the various options and what works for you the best?
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