Rexam has revealed to BeverageDaily.com that its FUSION aluminium bottle has established a foothold in Europe, with PepsiCo even trialing it in Italy this year, the first launch using a carbonated soft drink (CSD).
Kym Hamer, marketing manager, new product development, at Rexam Beverage Can Europe told BeverageDaily.com that the (lemon-flavoured cola) Pepsi Twist launch using FUSION (pictured) had entered the Italian market in January/February.
She said: “Pepsi at the moment have this year just launched this year – on a trial basis – Pepsi Twist in Italy, and I believe they’re testing the waters with 33cl FUSION bottle with a ROPP [roll-on pilfer proof, screw-cap] closure.”
A Pepsi Italy Facebook post from March 29 introduces the ‘all new FUSION Pepsi Twist’: “A unique design in aluminium, with a resealable screwtop, to quench your thirst and take with you wherever you want.”
Hamer agreed with the suggestion that such striking packaging was a bold way to reinvigorate classic drinks. Overall CSD volume sales have fallen in the US since 2005, according to Beverage Digest statistics.
“For us it’s really exciting that [Pepsi Twist] is out on the market – we’re seeing much more promotion about aluminium bottles bringing a premium edge. That’s good for everyone playing in this market and there’s great opportunities for brands in this respect,” she said.
Rexam launched FUSION in April 2010, so what type of beverage brands was it attracting thus far? “In the early stages with FUSION what we’ve seen is quite a big proportion of energy drinks, about one third beer, and between them with quarter: beauty drinks, wine or ready-to-drink products,” Hamer said.
German beauty drinks
In 2010 Rexam spoke of establishing a European market for FUSION, and Hamer said the firm had seen “quite a jump” this year with more enquiries across Europe. Early adopters included Germany (notably beauty waters) Italy, France and Australia, she said, but there was an “appetite for FUSION everywhere” worldwide.
“It tends to be brands that see how FUSION can add value to a current product – so not necessarily for new beer and energy new launches – putting the product into different premium channels that produce higher margins. For instance, wine and RTDs have had quite strong associations with fashion weeks,” Hamer said.
Boca Lupo energy drink (Australia: pictured), OCÓO beauty drink (Germany) and a Bellini wine drink (Italy) had all worked on fashion week tie-ups, Hamer said. “In terms of the split between small and larger players this has opened up more entrepreneurial brands and companies, which see opportunities in something new.
“Generally, smaller businesses can move quickly – and can get to market first. That’s not to say bigger players don’t do that, it’s just that there are further layers of process to go through, and they also need investment in their filling lines.
“Whereas, a smaller player is likely to say ‘just find me a contract filler and I’m happy to get it to market more quickly. So it’s a longer conversation with some of the larger players.”
Most FUSION sales to date incorporated with the ROPP closure, Hamer said – despite a slight mark-up due to higher cap costs and subsequent effects on bottle design – with sizes fairly evenly split between the 25cl and 33cl options. She added that Rexam saw the principal opportunities for FUSION in these two sizes.
She said: “Both customers and consumers tell us that the resealability option is really attractive, and brands want to offer that – especially since aluminium bottles are not competing with cans but with plastic and glass bottles, Tetra Pak, the whole beverage landscape.”
Asked which bottle size was the most popular, Hamer said: “Three months ago I would have said 33cl, but the split is broadly equal in terms of size – energy drinks are fairly evenly split, beer tends to be 33cl, wine, RTD and functional tends to be 25cl. We’re still in the early stages – but I don’t see that changing too much.”
Major multiple FUSION?
Routes to market were driven by the desire of brands to promote themselves in whatever channels they chose, Hamer said. “As some of the brands start to adopt it as part of their range, I don’t see any reason why you won’t start to see – in a few years time – FUSION bottles in the multiples.
“I think at the moment, the issue for metal bottles is that they’re quite promotional – for instance, Coke’s launch with Jean-Paul Gaultier. They tend to be high end done for promotional reasons only, and are also difficult to manage through a multiple distribution chain.
“But a multiple is not just a mulitiple, so there’s no reason why we couldn’t see FUSION on the shelf there, and I don’t see that detracting from its premium value at all.”
Asked how FUSION compared with competitor Ardagh’s aluminium bottle (after its Boxal takeover in March) Hamer said that FUSION was significantly lighter and had a resealable closure option, while Rexam was at the forefront on working with local authorities to ensure strong recycling infrastructures.
Ardagh used different ‘extruded bottle’ technology, but that competition “grew visibility and appetite for the product, which can only help both of us,” Hamer said.