Manchester, MI – (April 22, 2008) – Reily Foods Company, New Orleans, LA, is launching its new ready-to-drink (RTD) iced tea line in a 16-ounce, pedestal-based, custom PowerFlex™ polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottle from Amcor PET Packaging. The new design geometry represents a “first” for PowerFlex™ and is patterned after the tall graceful columns found in Southern architecture. The graphics support the positioning by incorporating images of verandas, white rocking chairs and Spanish moss.
Reily’s Luzianne® brand has long been synonymous in the South with quality food and beverage products formulated or blended with southern taste preferences in mind. Its heritage tea products first entered the market in 1932 and have been recently available in both retail (bags) and institutional channels (filter bags, loose tea and concentrate).
“The RTD category has really exploded over the past several years. Consumer research told us that our consumers were ready for a ‘turnkey’ alternative-products that require less work,” explains Nicole Champine, marketing manager. “As a company with a rich tea history, it made a lot of sense for us to be there.”
Further, Southern iced tea is known for its sweetness-another reason why regional marketing comes into play.
“The nice thing about our product is that we don’t use any high fructose corn syrup; it’s pure cane sugar. That allows the flavor of the tea and fruit to shine through,” she says.
Having made the decision to go forward with RTD formulations, the next question was what container type should be used to bring the line extension to market. Initially, Reily asked its creative agency Interbrand, New York City, to develop some sketches. At that time, the company was thinking of launching in a glass bottle.
“They designed a beautiful bottle, but as we talked to our customers and looked at freight costs and potential problems with breakage, we realized we needed to evaluate plastic alternatives. Also, because our products are made without preservatives, we knew our options would be limited because we needed a hot-fill container,” Champine says.
Reily handed over the glass sketches to Amcor and challenged them to duplicate as many of the design elements as possible in PET.
“What we received was a unique geometry; something that had never been done before in PET. It was a sloping, martini shaker shape on a pedestal and that posed several engineering challenges. For example, you have to have a diameter that is large enough to relieve the vacuum that occurs during the cooling process. We also had concerns of how the container would function on the production line,” explains Chris Burt, project engineer.
With Reily Foods determined to have a custom bottle that spoke to the uniqueness of its brand and its Southern heritage, Amcor went to work.
Amcor’s PowerFlex™ bottle technology relies on a revolutionary patented panel-less design which takes hot-fill (185° degrees Fahrenheit) bottle options to a new level. Amcor’s structural design not only eliminates the panels, but unlike competitive containers, PowerFlex™ has a large, completely smooth label panel – free of any kind of ribbing.
Amcor’s technical staff, through a combination of design and manufacturing innovations, has created a patented bottle that absorbs vacuum via a specially designed base. A unique
diaphragm within the base draws upward as the liquid cools. It has the geometric characteristics to enable the inverted cone-shaped diaphragm to deflect upward as the vacuum is created.
“We had to keep tweaking various geometries to find the compromise between the original design and what could withstand the vacuum in a production environment,” says Burt. “We discovered that by adding a rib around the top of the pedestal base, we could achieve structural stability.”
Unlike conventional hot-fill PET alternatives, PowerFlex™ bottles do not have sidewall vacuum panels, making them easier to label. Packers don’t have to worry about mislabeling-missing the vertical bars in applying labels. Nor do they have to deal with the ripple effect labeling over panels can cause.
The location of the rib not only prevents ovalization during cooling, but it also keeps the entire label panel smooth-a desired characteristic so that the label can be used as an attractive brand billboard. The bottle also is blown with a UV additive to help extend shelf-life.
Further, the four-color process label graphics, also designed by Interbrand, stop at the bottom rib. However, the polyvinyl chloride shrink sleeve label itself, supplied by Constantia Colmar, Inc., Colmar, PA, continues transparently to the bottom of the base. The reason for this is two-fold-it facilitates the application of the shrink label and it gives the consumer the opportunity to look into the bottom of the bottle to see that the tea is sediment free.
“What we ended up with was a tapered bottle with nice hand feel. The 38mm wide-mouth also makes the tea more ‘gulpable.’ Because it was a private mold, we were also able to add custom embossing of our brand on the bottle shoulder,” says Champine. “The other great thing about working with Amcor is that they never made us feel like a small customer. It was a true partnership.”
Luzianne RTD is currently being launched in five flavors- Sweet Tea, Diet Peach, Lemon, Green Tea with Mint and Raspberry. Initially, it is being distributed to retail outlets in Florida, Georgia, Tennessee and North and South Carolina, with a wider distribution in additional southern states in early 2009. The line will be sold in individual bottles and in four-packs. It is contract packaged at Southern Classic Foods, Brundidge, AL.
“We continued to connect with some of our key retailers throughout the project, which gave us a lot of feedback during the development states. They have been thrilled and very complimentary about the end result,” Champine says.
Reily Foods was founded in 1902 by William B. Reily in one of the world’s great culinary centers, Monroe, Louisiana. The company began as a coffee roasting and grinding business and today not only continues to make the highest quality coffees, but also offers teas, mayonnaise, Cajun-Creole foods, seasonings, sauces, salad dressings and chili kits. Reily Foods operates manufacturing facilities in New Orleans, Knoxville, Tennessee and Baltimore, Maryland.
Amcor PET Packaging is the leading manufacturer of PET (polyethylene terephthalate) plastic packaging for the global beverage, food and non-food industries, with over 80 manufacturing sites in 19 countries. Its parent company, Amcor Limited, offers a broad range of packaging solutions and ranks as one of the top three packaging companies in the world. Amcor’s extensive operations include 217 plants in 34 countries. It is headquartered in Melbourne, Australia and, for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2007, had sales revenues of US$9.0 billion. For further information, visit www.amcor.com.