Making Beverages Cool
A vitamin-fortified, fruit-based drink for kids in aseptic blow/fill/seal bottles gets labeled with cartoon hero graphics, while sleeved bottles reinvent yoghurt drinks.
Jel Sert, the company that made “freezer pop” a household expression, knows something about what treats kids like to eat. For nearly 80 years, the company has produced a variety of summertime standbys, including Fla-Vor-Ice freeze pops, Mondo fruit squeezer drinks and Pop-Ice flavor bars,in addition to assorted drink and dessert mixes, puddings, gelatin and other products.
Recently launching Comic Coolers, a vitamin-fortified, fruitbased drink, formulated specifically for kids aged six to 12, Jel Sert chose aseptic packaging in the form of convenient blow/fill/seal bottles with twist-off caps. The natural-tone, high-density polyethylene bottles wear full-body shrink sleeves decorated with high-impact, “kid appeal.” Applied on equipment from Axon, the sleeves adorning each 6.75-oz (200-mL) bottle and the film overwrap for the six-pack feature dynamic Marvel Comics graphics.
At the same time, Noga Dairy, creator of the Dairy Delite low-fat yoghurt shake and the Dairy Delite yoghurt cup, also chose film sleeve labels to recreate its packaging to the delight of consumers and higher sales.
Jel Sert says unique packaging is what sets its new coolers apart from other juice-based drinks, in addition to their low-sugar content, explains Matt Ingemi, vice president of consumer healthcare at Jel Sert. “Packaging is a fundamental part of Comic Coolers,” Ingemi says. “Kids equate the packaging’s images of superheroes to tangible interaction with one of the Marvel cartoon characters, giving them a sense of participation in an experience. One of the distinct aspects of the ready-to-drink segment for children is that you need to appeal to two consumers at the same time: Parents, who are the purchasers; and children, who are the actual consumers. So we believe that every feature of the product has to address the right audience.”
Jel Sert entered the ready-to-drink market more than a decade ago, and saw an opportunity to address a niche, Ingemi says. The category had vast offerings and flavor
flavor extensions with lots of sugar in them. “An under-served segment of that market is the low-sugar, nutrient-fortified beverage,” he reports. “The low-sugar content and added nutrients [in Comic Coolers] address the nutritional concerns for parents, while the packaging targets kids.” Design Comic Coolers’ five flavors correspond to the superheroes featured on each package. The flexo-printed graphics in eight colors are adopted in the same manner for both the full-body shrink labels for the individual bottles and for the six-pack overwrap. The designs dazzle kids with their use of vibrantly printed animation of several of Marvel’s action heroes. They feature Spider Man on Amazing Punch, Captain America on Battling Berry, Green Goblin on Grape and Daredevil! on Fearless Cherry. Ingemi says that the sleeves were a must because comic-strip characters printed on high-end polyvinyl chloride film really connects with kids. “Film is the best medium to convey high-end visuals,” he explains. Jel Sert also enlisted the help of graphic designers from OEC Graphics to provide assistance with the sleeve designs, and with The Bill Lutz Group to assist with the illustrations covering the overwraps. Process Noga Dairy’s new teardrop-shaped bottles enters the single-head sleeve applicator, which applies a sleeve label over each container after it cuts the sleeve from rollstock. To produce the packaging for Comic Coolers, Jel Sert split up an existing packaging line and dedicated about 9m to the new sleeving equipment, in this case, Axon’s EZ Sleever. Jel Sert’s equipment distributor, KHL Engineered Packaging Solutions recommended customizing Axon’s EZ Sleever labeler and the EZ Model 108SR heat tunnel for the new line because of the equipments’ smaller footprint and efficient operation. “The most difficult part of the project was getting consistent film, because the line tension and quality of print really changes the way the label applicator runs,” says Matt Kransberger, production manager. “The Axon Sleever has an infeed-timing screw that designates the amount of space and position of each bottle as the bottle enters the Sleever, which creates good, consistent tension on the film.” The bottles are blown, filled with the cooler drink and are sealed in-line on a series of eight Asep-Tech systems from Weiler Engineering which feed into a tabletop conveyor from Intralox that merges them into a single line. The bottles then travel single-file into the customized Axon shrink-sleeve labeler, which applies sleeves cut from a roll of 50-micron (almost 2 mm) PVC sleeve film from Print Flex. The customized sleever places them on the bottles at approximately 330/min. The sleeved bottles continue to an Arpac overwrapping machine, which groups them into six-packs and overwraps them in HDPE film from Bemis. The overwrapper gets the film from a single roll, which is cut by the machine and applied to two six-packs per cycle. As a final step, the six packs pass through the heat tunnel and are sent to a Douglas Machine case packer to be packed into 48-count cases of eight sixpacks each. As a quality-control measure, an optional missingsleeve detector that Axon integrated with the sleeve applicator uses a sensor to detect the presence of UV-impregnated film and any unlabeled bottle before the bottle enters the case packer. “We were determined to have an exciting bottle for this product,” Ingemi says, “and the Axon equipment plays a role in making that happen. Axon exceeded our cost and performance expectations for this project.” Kransberger agrees, adding, “Axon is a ‘no-problems’ company that always keeps us satisfied with the equipment and technical service we receive.”
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