Dystopian drinks? ‘Beverages that beep, bleep, yell and waft scents at shoppers’


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The Future? ‘Beverages that beep, bleep and waft scents at shoppers’

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Manufacturers will spend more on designing packages that ‘blink, beep, yell and waft scents at shoppers', according to food packaging expert Joe Kerry from University College Cork.

Writing in a book published this year, Innovations in Food Packaging​, Kerry devotes a chapter to talking about ‘New Packaging Technologies, Materials and Formats for Fast-Moving Consumer Products’, across the core food and beverage categories.

In the context of a wide-ranging discussion of beverage innovations in this sphere, Kerry notes that the competition for consumer attention on shelf “has never been more intense, and innovative beverage packaging companies are interested in packaging that captures the attention of the consumer”.


Beam Inc. blazes trail with Hornitos Tequila ‘Lightpad’

Thus the need for noisy, smelly (in a nice way, one would hope) and eye-catching packaging, and Kerry says that UK firm Cognifex (used by Beam Inc. for a Hornitos Tequila ‘LightPad’ in 2008; labels on the base of bottles illuminate bottles when a bartender pours) is one leader in the visual field.

Using an LED and silicon chip with a self-contained button-cell power source, this system illuminates plastic and glass bottles for marketing and promotional purposes, and is triggered by pressing a switch, pulling a tab or removing a lid, an infrared (IR) or radio frequency (RF) signal.

“The device can be designed to function for anywhere from a few minutes to several months. Another possible application envisioned is for sweepstakes or promotional campaigns, where bottles could be illuminated remotely to indicate a winning package, or winning bottles could emit a different color than regular bottles,”​ Kerry writes.

Miniature sound systems on bottles

As consumers increasingly ignore commercials and spread their attention across mixed media, Kerry warns that traditional TV, radio and print advertising is becoming less effective.

Marketers are looking for new ways to get noticed, and Kerry cites IR codes on bottles (already particularly well-established in the wine space, via embedded microchips or printed patterns) that enable consumers to engage with products and their manufacturers.

“Miniature sound systems on boxes and bottles will give people spoken tips and ideas,”​ Kerry adds.

“German electronics giant Siemens has developed a flat electronic display that can be applied to bottles like a label, allowing for tiny lights, miniature games or flashing messages,”​ he says.

Wine cap from Australia that says ‘pop!’

Finally, Kerry gives the example of Plungerhead wine from Don Sebastini & Sons, released in 2006, which uses a closure designed by Australian firm Zork – a polyethylene cap and plunger that pops when opened. (N.B. Great product, but they need to work on the jingle!)

“The closure is favoured not only because it eliminates cork taint, but also because it retains a sense of celebration when opening a bottle of wine,”​ Kerry adds.

The academic also covers gas-release packaging (the Guinness widget), Flavor or nutrient-release packaging (Kenco Ice Cappio from Ball Packaging, Unistraw, FreshCan, LifeTop), oxygen scavenging (Constar International).

West Coast Chill

Kerry also discusses self-cooling packaging (West Coast Chill​) and self-heating packaging (Crown Cork and Seal and Thermotics technology) for Nestle canned coffee in 2001, as are thermochromic inks that give information on beverage temperature or reveal a hidden packaging message.

DNA-tagged anti-counterfeit labels

Finally, there is the problem of counterfeiting, and Kerry says that beverages produced by Lipton, Coca-Cola and Nestle have regularly topped EU lists of counterfeited products seized in the bloc.

Kerry says that RFID tags (already widespread in the spirits sector) and security smart printing techniques and special inks are gaining ground here.

“Biowell technology, a Taiwan-based biotechnology company, has perfected the world’s first DNA-tagged anti-counterfeit label,”​ he writes.

“By using bioengineered DNA as an invisible and high specific identification tag, forensic-level authentication of a tagged item is possible…an extremely high counterfeit barrier,”​ Kerry adds.

Title: ​'New Packaging Technologies, Materials and Formats for Fast-Moving Consumer Products'

Author: ​Joe Kerry, Food Packaging Group, School of Food and Nutritional Sciences, University College Cork

Source: Innovations in Food Packaging,​ 2014, DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-394601-0.00023-0

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