Developments In Disposable Spice Grinders

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Shaft Technical Mouldings’ jar is moulded with integral grinding teeth on the inside of the preform neck

The consumer has long since discovered that the four fundamental functions of packaging (contain, protect/preserve, transport, and communicate) aren’t sufficient to satisfy his needs. He expects some extra feature incorporated in the packaging to guarantee an enhancement of his consuming experience. In other words there has to be at least a fifth function added to the basic packaging in order to attract the consumer.

It goes without saying that it requires creativity to incorporate a fifth function, an additional low-cost “gadget” enhancing the functionality and the convenience of the product.

The above written axiom is of course valid for all consumer products, but certainly for the products of the “spice market”, which I like to emphasise today.

Disposable Spice Grinders are a growing market. McCormick's (the biggest supplier of spices to consumers) is estimated to sell some 20 million disposable spice grinders a year

Disposable Spice Grinders are a growing market. McCormick’s (the biggest supplier of spices to consumers) is estimated to sell some 20 million disposable spice grinders a year

The actual market of spice grinders
The globalisation has brought us a diversity of flavours due to the influence of African, Asian and Hispanic kitchens. Consequently consumers of all backgrounds want to experiment at home and opt for fresh spices to cook with. The rising trend in this market is the desire to freshly grind the spices the moment they are used. Besides the often costly elegant permanent spice grinders, more and more brands are introducing spices not anymore in the simple pillow pack or (plastic) jar, but in a disposal spice grinder.

For reasons of taste enhancement the grinding of the peppercorn and mixtures of it are the most popular when talking about spice grinders. But what is it with the pepper grinder these days? Fancy designs, sleek, battery driven models might look elegant on the dinner table, but seem to have forgotten the basic task of grinding. Let’s be honest. The only purpose of a pepper grinder is to swiftly crank out the desired amount of fresh ground pepper, without any guesswork in grind selection or extra strain on our wrists. And yet many of these durable, fancy and elegant models fail to measure up to the expectations of the consumer. And that brings us to the “fifth function” in the one-way packaging, as related in the first paragraphs of this article. With the simple consumer criteria the grinder requires, the device can easily be incorporated in the spice packaging as the extra “gadget”.

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The usual pepper mill or spice grinder in the market is composed of 4 parts:

1) A glass or plastic container in the form of a jar or a bottle
2) A set of teeth that stand still, the so called fixed burr
2) A set of teeth that rotate relative to the fixed teeth, the rotating burr
3) A dust lid to close off the top of the grinder, when not in use.

If consumers are frustrated by the ‘permanent’ non-disposable spice grinders that break in weeks, that doesn’t has to come as a surprise. Permanent spice grinders count on refilling. Once refilling starts, one has no control over how often it is done, and there is a limit as to how many grams of grinding the plastic, ceramic or steel teeth can withstand. That’s the reason why all disposable bottle top grinders are designed in such a way that they prevent the consumer from refilling the grinders.

As said there are some interesting developments going on in disposable spice grinders completing a packaging of spices for the convenience of the consumer.
From South Africa comes an invention, baptised “Integral Grinder” that certainly provides an improved disposable spice grinder.

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The Integral Grinder
Shaft Technical Mouldings, a plastic injection moulding company in Cape Town, blows an injection moulded preform into the form of a jar, which has to contain the spices to be ground before use. The jar is moulded with integral grinding teeth on the inside of the preform neck. A rotatable moulded part snaps onto the jar and forms the rest of the grinder.

According to the inventor it’s preferable that the preform is stretch blow moulded.

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The main characteristic of the Integral Grinder and the most important difference with the actual top grinders in the market is the fact that the grinding teeth are incorporated in the body of the bottle. In other words the Fixed Burr has been incorporated into the jar. This construction reduces the number of parts from 4 to 3 and thus not only entirely eliminates the cost of the fixed burr, but also the costs of assembly of the fixed and rotating burrs before they are put onto the jar.

This design has essentially made the packaging of spices into a grinder. The company claims that the cost of the grinder packaging as opposed to a packaging just carrying the spices is almost the same.

Furthermore an important difference with existing grinders is the material choice. Most of the grinders on the market have the burrs moulded in acrylic, while there is a few moulded in acetal or polycarbonate.
What Shaft Technical Mouldings has done is, make an injection blow moulded bottle in PET with the teeth for the fixed burr incorporated in the inside of the neck of the bottle.

Most people associate PET with relatively soft cool drink bottles, but in fact the material properties of high intrinsic viscosity PET are very close to that of acrylic or acetal. The soft feel of cool beverage bottles comes from the very thin walls. The neck regions are very hard and tough.

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Shaft Technical Mouldings has done extensive testing of the grinders with salt and pepper and the standard 100ml jar will perfectly grind its fill and still be in fine condition.

The concept of the Integral Grinder has been extensively patented in the USA under nr. US 8241553, in South Africa under nr. SA 2010/00120 and in the European Union under nr. EP 2170138.

Shaft Technical Mouldings would want to enter into a technology agreement with blow moulding companies in several parts of the world to produce and market the bottles/jars, while it wants to supply the closures from its plant in Cape Town/South Africa.
You can get in contact with the company via email:

(This is a sponsored article)

10 responses to “Developments In Disposable Spice Grinders

  1. Hi. I am trying to find a place where i can buy these plastic grinders ?. I make my own spices and need grinders. Do you sell them ? If not where can i get them ?

  2. Hey Anton,
    It was an informative article
    I would like to know if you have any idea of the grinder cap manufacturers industry as I have to submit a project on in my College.
    At least can you give me the Top Players in the market with respect to “Spice grinder cap” Manufacturers
    Awaiting your reply.

    • Vicky, thanks for your comment. I have no idea and info about the market other than I expressed in my article. Your best bet is to use Google.

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