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On course for global success: drinksplus − drinks with perceptible added value
SIG Combibloc: Technology advances - potential for new trend products
With drinksplus, a technology has been developed that makes it possible to aseptically fill in carton packs new trend drinks containing pieces of food that add extra value - and this can be done quickly and cost-effectively using standard filling machines from SIG Combibloc for beverages. The individual particulates in drinksplus products can be up to six millimetres in length and width. "When we started working on the drinksplus project, the focus was on the development of product concepts and the technical implementation of the system. The aim was to offer our customers total solutions to enable them to create added-value products. We wanted solutions that comprise the product treatment and the process technology prior to filling, the filling and the downstream process", says Norman Gierow, Global Market Segment Manager at SIG Combibloc, who has been involved with the project from the beginning. Working with experienced global technology companies, SIG Combibloc developed three basic technical variants for the product processing and filling of drinksplus products. These variants can be customised to suit the food manufacturer's production facilities, and the respective product concept.
The drinksplus concept makes it possible for manufacturers in the beverage industry to break into a completely new product segment for products aseptically packaged in beverage cartons, enabling them to supplement an already successful product range or a brand portfolio with added-value products. Combining top-quality drinks with added extras underscores the premium nature of the products, and fits perfectly with one of the key current trends in the beverage market: on the one hand, consumers want healthy food, and on the other hand they are looking for interesting and unusual new taste experiences. Natural pieces of real fruit or vegetables and grains are valuable not just as components of a balanced diet - they are also perceived and rated by consumers as added-value extras. In addition, drinks containing nutritious particulates have a special consistency and provide new, unusual drinking experiences.
A success story goes global
The first drinksplus products were launched in China, where the country's two leading dairy enterprises, Inner Mongolia Mengniu Dairy and Inner Mongolia Yili Industrial Group, set the ball rolling with UHT milk drinks containing nata de coco and UHT milk containing rice grains respectively. China's dairy industry is faced with the challenge of developing new product concepts that offer consumers genuine added value and product differentiation as well as the creation of additional benefits are critical for long-term market success. This is where the new product concept of UHT milk containing real particulates really made its mark. The products have turned out to be a resounding success for both these major companies, and they have established an entirely new beverage category, named after them, in the Chinese market. Now, this regional success story is going global. Gierow: "drinksplus is an exceptionally innovative concept - this is demonstrated by the huge interest being shown by well-known food manufacturers across the globe when we present the concept and the enormous range of product applications". Using the new technology, beverage manufacturers have now launched drinksplus products on three continents.
Danone-Unimilk: drinksplus with fruit bits
Danone-Unimilk is one of the first manufacturers outside China to make use of the drinksplus concept. In Russia, the company has launched two whey drinks containing nutritious bits of fruit under the brand name 'Actual', in mango and peach flavours. The drinks are offered in combifitSmall 250 ml with drinking straw, and are positioned as a healthy snack especially for young, active women who take care to eat a balanced diet and at the same time are open to new and indulgent taste experiences.
In Iran, Zarin Jam Marina has launched five innovative juice drinks containing real fruit pieces, in peach, pineapple, orange blood, orange and mango varieties, under the brand name 'SunStar'. The drinks are available in combiblocMini 250 ml, and come with a drinking straw with a diameter of 7 mm - the large-size opening means the premium beverage with its tasty fruit pieces can be enjoyed straight from the carton pack.
In Saudi Arabia, Gulf Union has launched a range of juice drinks containing fruity bits in orange, peach, pineapple and mango flavours under the new brand name 'Orignal plus'. Gulf Union is positioning the drinks, offered in combiblocSmall 250 ml, under the slogan 'Back to nature', highlighting the naturalness of the products which is underscored by adding real fruit pieces.
In Thailand, Southeast Asia's leading food and beverage manufacturer Tipco is living up to its reputation as an innovative company with the launch of 'Tipco FruitPlus'. The company has spent many years establishing its position as a manufacturer of premium juice and creator of new product ideas. Tipco is one of Thailand's most popular brands. 'Tipco FruitPlus' is available as mandarin orange juice containing real orange pulp and sacs, and as fruit and vegetable juices with real pieces of aloe vera. The fruit and vegetable juices come in the varieties mixed vegetable, aloe vera & grape and apple. Each flavour has been enhanced with the addition of real pieces of aloe vera. The drinks, based on juices with 100 per cent fruit content, are packaged in combiblocMini 200 ml.
In collaboration with highly-regarded manufacturers of product ingredients, SIG Combibloc has developed additional product concepts as ideas for further ingenious drinks, all of which can be created using the drinksplus technology. These new ideas include a juice drink made from apple and plum with aloe vera bits, a strawberry juice drink containing pieces of real strawberry, a yoghurt drink containing cereal grains and small pieces of apple, and a chocolate drink with coconut flakes. The range of possibilities can be extended in various creative ways. Particularly when it comes to combining drinks with various grains, a range of possibilities presents itself. Adding cereal grains is the perfect way to upgrade a drink to a healthy snack or a nutritious breakfast drink. As well as being a healthy source of dietary fibre, grains lend drinks a fuller flavour and provide an unusual drinking experience.
Collaboration with Zentis
In developing the new concepts for beverages containing cereal grains, SIG Combibloc worked closely with Zentis, one of Europe's leading fruit-processing companies. The drinksplus concept makes it possible to aseptically fill into carton packs drinks containing whole grains and/or ground grains, flakes, bran or coarse meal made from rice, oats, wheat, rye, barley, spelt, millet, amaranth, quinoa or buckwheat. The range of possibilities is huge.
The flexible filling technology from SIG Combibloc is paving the way for drinks containing pieces of fruit, vegetables or cereals to be aseptically filled into carton packs. For more than 25 years, the company has led the way in the aseptic filling of foods with particulates such as soups, sauces and desserts into carton packs. With drinksplus, this know-how has now been successfully transferred to the beverage sector.
Filling technology for maximum flexibility
The flexible filling technology from SIG Combibloc makes it all possible. It is based on a sleeve system which allows for filling products with a high particulate into carton packs: Each carton sleeve is individually shaped, sterilised and filled on site at the customer's premises, using SIG Combibloc filling machines. After filling the carton pack is ultrasonically sealed above the filling level and not through the product - this is to prevent solid product components or fibres becoming trapped in the sealed seam. The standard filling machines from SIG Combibloc for liquid dairy and NCSD products can be fitted to work with drinksplus using a new upgrade set. The easy-to-install 'drinksplus kit' includes valves, shafts and fill nozzles which are tailored to provide an optimal product flow when filling innovative drinks containing particulates.
Gierow: "The market launches to date are an indication of the global potential behind drinksplus. We're very pleased with the enormous global interest in the system concept. Further trendy beverage creations are already poised to launch on the market in the near future".
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