Repackaging the Standards

While beverage companies often prefer the formulation and marketing of products, it’s the labels that do the talking on store shelves. To meet the evolution of their respective industries, the following packaging brands have made steps to contemporize existing packaging technologies. They’re not starting from scratch. With wine casks, high-resolution images, durable paper and efficient adhesives, they’re taking the recipe and adding new ingredients.

Monday to Thursday Wine

AndegaviaWhen you think of wine that doesn’t come in a bottle, perhaps you shudder and recall past college days slapping the bag from a cheap boxed wine. Not our finest moments, nor our wealthiest. And that classlessness is well understood.

“Boxed wine has sort of a stigma about it,” said Gavin Macomber, the founder and principal of Andegavia Cask Wines.

That’s one of a number of reasons why Macomber is instead selling wine casks — widely used in Europe and Australia, widely unknown in the U.S.

Macomber said that more than 10 million people in the U.S. drink wine every day and more than 80 percent of wine is purchased before immediate consumption. Would that second figure be so high if wine could be stored in a different format, thus negating the quick oxidation that occurs with bottled wine? He wants to find out.

Andegavia Cask Wines launched in May at the Nantucket Wine Festival and has already made a dent in the area. Macomber said that he’s received positive feedback from consumers and the industry and has already landed shelf placements in some of the island’s high-end wine stores. In August, the Nantucket Blackbook called Andegavia’s Merrill Pinot Noir the wine of the weekend.

Macomber isn’t attempting to replace the wine bottle. He still shares a bottle with his wife on the weekends. But for the weekday wine, the kind that goes with dinner or a casual drink after work, he believes cask wines could stake the territory.

“People are looking for a better way to drink good wines every day,” he said.

Each portable cask holds up to four bottles worth of wine and stays fresh for 30 days after opening (thanks to an oxygen-resistant bladder). And if you like drinking to the idea of reduced carbon footprint, consider that the cask method boasts a variety of environmental benefits. The casks are 100 percent recyclable, they’re made with BPA-free plastic and they require less shipping than bottles.

A recent article by Bevolution Systems, LLC, a beverage technology company, notes that 300 million cases of wine are sold in the U.S. each year. That’s about four billion bottles, with approximately 70 percent of those bottles ending up in a landfill.

Macomber wants to run a company that doesn’t add to landfill piles. He wants a product that doesn’t quickly oxidize. And while he’s at it, he might as well sell some good wine.

Running the Color Gamut

DWS Printing Associates, Inc. wants to make labels with blueberries you would eat, apples you would pick, oranges you would squeeze. Such realism starts with the colors.

That’s why DWS, a label and packaging company based in Deer Park, N.Y., recently announced the expansion of its color gamut technology with the introduction of the HD-7 Series. With the addition of orange, green and violet inks, the process covers approximately 85 to 90 percent of Pantone matching system colors.

HD-7 costs less because it uses less ink and, if you ask DWS, it gives photography and illustrations a much more enhanced look.

“For clients who want to go to that next level and really take advantage of the process, it’s a great tool,” said John Gulino, a senior technical director with DWS.

Gulino said that he recommends the HD-7 process for packages that feature more graphics. While the process is applicable to a wide range of industries, he said that wine labels tend to have a flat look and more solid colors. It caters more to food and beverage companies that feature large images of ingredients on product packaging. The difference in quality could be enough to distance second-rate designs from the elite.

Apple & Eve, the N.Y.-based juice brand, was the first company to use HD-7 technology, and it didn’t take long for the results to gain recognition. In June, the Printing Industries of America informed DWS that Apple & Eve’s 96 oz. Orange Carrot bottle was picked from 3,020 entries in the 2014 Premier Print Awards. The brand received a certificate of merit and, less tangibly, another reason to have confidence in the color printing technology.

A Durable Craft

In an old mill town called Bennington, New Hampshire, Monadnock Paper Mills (MPM) supplies the paper. It’s been that way since the company’s establishment in 1819. And it’s been the same family running the business for the past 70 or so years.

MPM has long been known for fine printing papers. It used to be 80 percent of the business. Now it’s only 10-20 percent. In the past six to eight years, MPM has drastically shifted its model to meet the demand for recyclable luxury packaging. That’s when a number of premium brands began seeking more environmentally-friendly packaging, but needed a paper mill to handle the technical details.

As the craft beer industry continues to surge, MPM has contributed with the Envi label, which is made entirely of post-consumer waste recycled fibers. Lisa Hardin Berghaus, the company’s manager of marketing communications, said that products made with post-consumer waste recycled fibers have an industry reputation of weakness. But with a focus on durability, MPM says that the Envi label can withstand the rigors of a bottling line and an ice bucket alike.

“It’s a highly engineered piece of paper,” Berghaus said.

Craft brewers such Long Trail Brewing Company, Beau’s All Natural Brewing Co., Otter Creek Brewing Company and Phillips Beer of Vancouver Island use the label, said Tim Boyd, sales market segment manager for MPM. And their use of the Envi label isn’t only about supporting green packaging.

“The types of papers that we’re making show premium,” Boyd said. “They show quality.”

Speaking of DWS, Boyd said that the fellow packaging company is MPM’s “bread and butter” when it comes to lightweight beer stock. DWS, which branded Envi as the Legacy label, has helped push MPM into the world of craft brewing. While MPM provides the technology, DWS takes it to market with its craft beer network.

“We are tremendously proud of the relationship,” Boyd said. “We also think they do a wonderful job of printing.”

Less Mess Adhesives

NuLabel_1Like others in the packaging industry, Max Winograd measures equipment with a metric called OEE, overall equipment efficiency/effectiveness. The metric considers three variables — the speed of a machine vs. potential speed, the time of a machine’s use, and the machine’s quality (bad bottles and caps, low fills, label misplacement, mispacked/wet case).

Winograd, the CEO, president and co-founder of NuLabel Technologies, Inc., in East Providence, R.I., said that a typical beverage company has an OEE of about 50-60 percent. This means that 40-50 percent of a company’s equipment effectiveness is typically left on the table.

That inefficiency can’t be fully attributed to the labeler, but that’s a key area of concern, he said. There’s plenty of down time connected to glue set-up and cleanup, as well as the ongoing maintenance required to function a machine with three different fluids at once: water, oil and glue. Just ask machine operators and packaging managers how the trio gets along.

“Those three things don’t like each other and cause a lot headaches,” Winograd said.

He added that if a company allocates one hour each day per five-day work week to cleaning up glue, that leaves five hours per week of time that could have instead been spent bottling more product. If a company produces an industry standard of 300 bottles per minute, 18,000 bottles per hour, then you’re looking at 90,000 extra bottles of beer that you could get out the door each week.

Craft brewers regularly say that people love their beer, but they can’t keep up with demand. They don’t have enough capacity, they say. Winograd believes that NuLabel can help optimize existing capacity.

His company develops adhesives that are activated at the point of use, providing a clean and efficient method for labeling products. NuLabel’s team of chemists has created a portfolio of activatable adhesives that eliminate the need for glue or pressure-sensitive adhesives. The company also develops the hardware necessary to activate the adhesive at the point of application. NuLabel doesn’t do the printing. Rather, it works with partners that can scale the technology and bring it to market.

Already using the aforementioned Envi/Legacy label, Long Trail has tested NuLabel adhesives. So too has widely-distributed Bell’s Brewery of Kalamazoo, Mich.

Winograd said that breweries don’t need to buy new labelers to use NuLabel’s adhesives. While the technology is offered to new machinery through Weiler Labeling Systems, it can also be implemented through a retrofit process by the company’s hardware engineers.

NuLabel wants to eliminate the messy stuff so brewers can focus on beer instead of cleanup.

“We really like to think of ourselves as that sort of behind the scenes support for their packaging line that can eliminate those headaches that take away from the stuff that really matters to these guys,” Winograd said.