Want to take a sneak peak at the shape of the future?

This is a bit of a strange story. In March this year Tetra Pak announced a preview of its latest innovation – an aseptic carton pack for ambient milk that is not rectangular but bottle shaped. Its website proclaims: “Want to take a sneak peak at the shape of the future? View the video, and check out what adds innovation to a bottle”.

But when you look at it, they don’t divulge any substantial information or any revolutionary design. They just show a video which I post here:

Why do I think it’s a strange or, if you wish, confusing story and why is Tetra Pak’s announcement nothing revolutionary, a classification it claims.

Let’s look at the recent announcement first. The company behind the classic rectangular milk carton claims the new package, an aseptic carton pack for ambient milk that is not rectangular but bottle shaped, combining all the benefits of the beverage carton with the convenience of the bottle. The aseptic carton bottle is made from renewable paperboard that is Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified. And for pouring, the bottle has an injection moulded top.

According to Tetra Pak, the bottle is easy to handle and pour, offers opportunities for branding all over the surface, and can stand for months without refrigeration.

The carton bottle will be making its first commercial appearance on shelves in April this year ahead of a media launch in Sweden on 16 May 2011.

So far the recent press release. But 6 years ago, during the Anuga Foodtec in 2005, Tetra Pak launched, what it called, the world’s first aseptic carton bottle: The Tetra Aptiva Aseptic.
And curiously Tetra Pak uses the same pictures for the most recent world breaking news.

Tetra Aptiva Aseptic combines a carton-based sleeve with a plastic top and screw cap to offer a distinctive, innovative ambient storage package. Designed as an alternative to plastic bottles, the Tetra Aptiva Aseptic system requires less than half the capital investment compared to a plastic filling line at a comparable capacity, while offering beverage producers operating economies ranging from 20-to-50% lower, compared to Aseptic Polyethylene Terephthalate (APET) and aseptic High Density Polyethylene (HDPE) plastic bottles.

Tetra Aptiva Aseptic is especially well suited for the fast-growing market of on-the-go beverages distributed through vending machines, convenience stores, supermarkets and other retail channels. Offering a distinctive, semi-cylindrical shape, the package has a wide, easy-to-drink-from opening with a re-sealable screw cap.

And to put one more question-mark behind Tetra’s recent claim: “Want to take a sneak peak at the shape of the future?”, that future had hit the market already the moment in 2005 when Pascual, leading milk, beverages and food producer in Spain, selected Tetra Aptiva Aseptic to introduce Scapy, a new brand to enter the youth market for beverages. Launched in November 2005, Scapy is a blend of enriched fruit juice and milk targeting 8 -14 year olds.

The description at that time was as follows: “The carton bottle provides all the basic value represented by Tetra Brik Aseptic packaging and also creates visual impact with the consumer – one of the main trends for years to come,” said Cesar Diaz, Marketing and Business Development Director, Grupo Leche Pascual.
Market tested in Europe and Asia, consumers have reacted positively to the Tetra Aptiva Aseptic package, underlining its “high value image” and such functional benefits as the re-sealable cap and ergonomic grip. During tests, consumers described Tetra Aptiva Aseptic as “appealing,” “new,” and “different” while praising the “transparency” of the plastic top portion.

“Tetra Aptiva Aseptic provides a low investment solution for both existing and new customers,” said Jerry Bengston, Vice President, Premium Segment, Tetra Pak Carton Ambient. “Customers currently using ambient carton packaging will find a natural evolution with Tetra Aptiva Aseptic carton bottles and will enjoy many Tetra Pak system benefits. For new customers, the carton bottle offers an attractive, distinctive vehicle to launch a new brand or product extension.”

The Tetra Aptiva Aseptic is manufactured on the Tetra Pak A5, a newly designed filling machine, which will be available in two versions, one for portion packs and the other for family packs.

The filling and forming process developed for the Tetra Pak A5 uses rolls of familiar, carton-based packaging material as well as pre-made plastic top-and-cap assemblies. The forming and filling process begins when the sheet of packaging material is formed around the mandrel and then induction sealed to produce a highly accurate carton sleeve ready to fuse with the pre-made top. Within the same unit, the plastic double top is cut in half and placed on the mandrel wheel where the carton sleeve is placed over the top and mandrel. Induction sealing fuses the two parts perfectly together.

Sterilisation is carried out through a process based on hydrogen peroxide gas. After filling, a burst of nitrogen gas is puffed into the package to minimise the oxygen content before final sealing. The final fold, to create the distinctive Tetra Aptiva Aseptic shape and base, takes place just as the package is sealed.

The Tetra Aptiva Aseptic carton bottle has efficient carton barrier properties ensuring a long shelf life (minimum six months) for oxygen sensitive products, such as juice. The transparent polypropylene top on the high acid version, which lets consumers see the contents, contains an oxygen barrier.

Pucko Ischocko - From Plastic to Tetra Top Carton Bottle - In May 2007, Arla Foods in Sweden launched six “On-the-Go” products in Tetra Top Carton Bottle.

An opaque polyethylene top on LDP versions protects the contents from light.

During the initial rollout period, the Tetra Aptiva Aseptic will be available on a limited basis to customers in Europe only. For JNSD, it will be available in 330 ml and 500 ml portion pack sizes with a transparent polypropylene top in 2006. In 2007, the Tetra Aptiva Aseptic for LDP will be available in 1000 ml size with an opaque polyethylene top. Rollout in other parts of the world will follow on a region-by-region basis starting in 2008.

So far the press release of Tetra Pak in 2006, regarding the Aptiva Aseptic carton bottle.

I do not deny the brilliance of the Tetra Pak engineers, as they have proven time and time again to be able to come up with excellent solutions for packaging as well as for the recycling of them. But this story leaves me a bit confused, as the sneak peak in the future, is a story of the past.

What has Tetra Pak up its sleeve? The video doesn’t show.

2 responses to “Want to take a sneak peak at the shape of the future?

  1. Pingback: Highlights of Interpack 2011 – The Fifth Day « Best In Packaging·

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