Rising demand for premium coffee any place any time has prompted Kraft Foods to team up with a UK packaging group to spruce up its Kenco FreshSeal range.
RPC Containers Hereford said it helped Kraft to reinvigorate the FreshSeal brand by improving the design of its cups and making them more consumer friendly.
It is hoped the move will help Kraft to maintain its strong position in FreshSeal's key ready-to-serve markets, such as the workplace, on transport and at leisure facilities.
Ingredients in FreshSeal are contained within the cup and sealed for freshness; when required, the seal is broken and hot water added to make the drink.
RPC said it replaced Kraft's old injection moulded design with a new ribbed effect and wrap around shroud, to improve insulation and protect consumers from the hot contents. It also improved the rim to make the coffee easier to drink.
The group said it invested in new moulding machines and automatic handling and packaging
equipment to manufacture the cups.
The shroud enables Kraft to use higher quality graphics on the cup, RPC added, which is intended to encourage consumers to associate FreshSeal with a high quality coffee drink.
Ready-to-serve and instant coffee varieties have come under fierce attack in the UK from a new generation of all-in-one coffee machines recently, such as Nestle's Nespresso system and Kraft's Tassimo.
Machine sales have doubled since 2001 as consumers attempt to re-create the coffee house feeling everywhere they go, a report from market analysts Mintel said. Pod machines like Nespresso have seen sales more than triple in four years.
Rachel Cranston, brand manager at Kraft, said she was pleased the new FreshSeal cups had got to market so quickly. Production began in December 2006.
"Feedback from customers has already been extremely positive," she said.
Kraft reported Thursday that global sales were up 5.7 per cent to $8.6bn for the first quarter of the year. Organic growth was slightly lower at 3.6 per cent.
Net profit dropped 30 per cent, however, due to an impairment charge and costs associated with becoming independent from parent firm, Altria, during the quarter.