Innovation Highlights

Great Britain
Recycling Trumps Nutrition. Here’s an official Carbon Footprint Moment! According to consumer behavior consultancy Mintel, when it comes to food and beverage labels, consumers are even more interested in recycling information than nutrition.

While peering at labels spans the Atlantic, according to Mintel, 84 percent of adults are now looking at
the recycling credentials of a package, according to an online poll of 1,000 consumers in Great Britain. That’s equal to the number interested in fat content, and higher than salt, sugar, and calories.

It’s also something to consider when looking at ethical labeling: one group, the UK Soil Association, won’t even label air transported products as organic because of the amount of pollution that mode of travel causes.
“The popularity of recycling is testament to the success of the green lobby in getting consumers to think about the packaging our food comes in,” said David Bird, a consumer analyst for Mintel.
According to Bird, the emphasis has come from external factors like “pay as you throw” legislation and community-based recycling programs – some of which are active or on tap in the U.S.

Italy
Italian packaging firm PET Engineering has recently released a PET wine bottle that mimics the shape of the classic glass bottle. The bottle uses a screwcap instead of a cork, but still has a wine bottle’s signature cylindrical shape, pronounced shoulder and concave bottom.

China
It happened quietly, but Coca-Cola has opened a research center for Chinese medicine in Beijing, attempting to combine Chinese herbal flavors, ingredients and formulas for Coke and its other product lines.
The center opened at the China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences.
The project might even result in a Chinese herbal Coke, chief scientific officer Rhona Applebaum told the magazine Forbes.

Packaging Profile:
Rio Miura, Metromint
Narrow-shouldered, polka dot-patterned, Metromint has cut a unique profile in the beverage industry since its introduction in 2005; the brains behind the bottle line has always been Rio Miura, who, as one of the founding partners of the product line (husband Scott Lowe is the other) took it upon herself to assemble a design team and execute her ideas. Last year, the entire line of mint essence waters took home a prestigious design award, winning a spot in the 2007 Communication Arts Design Annual.

Miura’s vision famously extends past her bottles to include industry displays, where the Metromint team can be found in stark white suits to offset the colors dotting their bottles. BevNET Innovation spoke with the ultra-chic ultra-modernista about her design imperatives and inspirations:BI: Why was making a design statement so important for a product like Metromint?
RM: I thought the product was so very different from others. But in order for us to stand out on the shelf, we had to have stunning, eye-opening packaging to appeal to the audience. To bring out the uniqueness of the beverage, we had to have outside-the-box thinking in the design.

BI: What was the genesis of the Metromint design?
RM: I wasn’t in the beverage industry. So because I didn’t know anything at the time, I decided to make what I thought was the perfect bottle. What wasn’t out there at the time were the enormous labels on the water – it was just a banner. But we made our label really tall – it’s the tallest a machine could apply to the bottle. I really wanted a tall, skinny, big label. The dots came into play later on. I was sketching every day, and I wanted some sort of pattern so the customer could really memorize what it was. I also wanted to focus on the future in the design. I wanted it to really have a cutting edge pattern – I tied it in with a pattern that was cool and cutting edge and timeless.

BI: What kind of design background did you bring to the industry?
RM: I was in the design industry in Japan; I used to be a jewelry designer, specializing in pearls. I’ve been sketching since I was born. I read lots of design magazines, but I’m not really inspired by them. I admire painters, but when it comes down to product design, ideas have always just hit me after 10 p.m.

BI: What can design do for a packaged beverage?
RM: The beverage industry is so saturated everywhere you go – the shelf is totally, totally saturated. If you don’t scream with the packaging, no one really notices it – we have a three second window to make the consumer choose it.

BI: What are the key design points of the bottle?
RM: Some elements are totally Japanese, like the funky, generic approach of the design, and there are some amazing elements of minimalism. And being really meticulous about things – when I talk about dots, I have a thing about dots – they have to be this diameter, this amount of spacing, the color has to be this color.

Packaging Briefs
Americhem has opened a new packaging design center in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio. The facility includes a sampling room with bottles form across the color spectrum and the capacity to produce more than 20 samples while a client waits.
Ball Corporation is installing a new 24 oz. aluminum beverage can production line in its Monticello, Ind. can plant. The new line installation is expected to be complete in time for the 2008 summer sales period.
Graham packaging has won two international awards from the World Packaging Organization in Stockholm, for a 64 oz. rectangular PET plastic apple juice bottle for Tree Top, Inc. and for its relaunch of the classic 10 oz. S. Martinelli & Co. plastic apple juice bottle.
Graphic Packaging Corp. has launched a new set of paperboard package enhancements that integrate package billboards with mobile technology. Using the new technology, consumers can use camera-equipped cell phones to scan on-pack graphics and codes to access in-store promotions, download songs, or participate in loyalty programs.
Liquid Health Labs Inc. has won a 2007 Frost & Sullivan Vendor of The Year Award in recognition of its unique services to the North American beverage market for its PowerCap technology.