Stephen Howell, Breakthrough Innovations Manager at Rexam Beverage Can said that the format, which has previously been available to drinks manufacturers as a concept for research, was now available commercially.
The company is offering its manufacturing facililty to contract fillers who will be able to fill the lightweight bottles, which Rexam says are proving popular with consumers as it combines the chill retention of a can with the style of a bottle, on its existing production lines.
It adds that it has capacity to double production at the plant, near Prague, to 120 million units within 18 months and also produce the aliminium bottle at other Rexam facilities across the world.
Both 33cl and 25cl Fusion bottles will be produced on the line, with customers able to select from ROPP (re-sealable), MaxiP Crown and Standard Crown closures.
The manufacturer believes the appeal of the bottle, which can be pasturised and is therefore suitable for a range of beverages including beer, flavoured water and energy and soft drinks, will bring differentiation and premiumisation to customers’ products.
Chilled drinks, including wine and flavoured alcoholic drinks, would in particular benefit from the aluminium bottle as it retain chill better than other formats, said Howell.
While the bottles are more expensive than glass bottles or cans, Howell said manufacturers should look at the whole cost of packaging. “If you take glass out of the equation, there’s a saving to be made in pallet use and in lightweighting, and when these considerations are taken into account there is not a huge gulf in price.”
“It’s more expensive than cans or most glass bottles, but it’s an entirely different selling proposition,” he explained. “It’s about targeting the packaging proposition to the best channel and occasions. Consumers are occasion sensitive as well as price sensitive, and buy in a different way when purchasing from a forecourt or convenience store, for example, than they do in the supermarket.”
Aluminium allows photo images to be printed on the can and Rexam says it plans to introduce further inks and varnishes to the available range.
“Fusion makes the DWI (Drawn Wall Ironed) aluminium bottle a commercial reality,” Howell said. “It is new, it is different, but more importantly it works as a functional pack format that both promotes the brand and adds value to the drinking experience.”
The company’s research suggests that 79% of trial participants liked the drinking experience from the bottle, with chill retention and freshness being the most important features.
Sector Director Tomas Sjölin added that the company considered Fusion “a fantastic opportunity to create a whole new category of beverage packaging.”