Sunkist, a well-known manufacturer of juices and jams in India, recently launched its new fusion variants in the non-carbonated beverage segment. Nikhil Sahu, senior executive, packaging development, Future Consumer Limited states, “The product variants selected were based upon intensive research conducted internally. We developed different blends, which were tasted by our experts to understand if the blends would appeal to Indian taste buds. Based on the feedback received, we came up with eight different blends for consideration.”
In terms of packaging of the product, the company wanted to ensure it had a fun element attached to it. Maneesh Sharma, head of packaging development – Future Consumer Limited, informs, “We sought a mixture of carbonated drinks and juice segments in the beverages for the bottle’s design. The idea was to associate with the people who prefer non-alcoholic drinks but at the same time give them a feeling that they are no different from the ones who enjoy alcoholic drinks. We also considered the long neck of the bottle, which we thought would give a ‘party’ effect to the design. The bottle also comes in 300 ml size, which makes it easy to hold and makes it a perfect choice for individual consumption.”
The design team of the company believed that the new product should do away with the regular beverage designs available in the market. Sharma explains, “Usually, juice bottles have a rounded base. We have used a petal-like base, which offers support and resembles a carbonated drink bottle but at the same time we have kept the paneled design on the bottle to generate the right kind of grip.”
Speaking on the challenges in the process, Sahu says, “During finalizing the design, there was some challenge in the process of filling. We have a hot filling machine for our filling needs. Thus, during our tests we discovered that the walls of the bottle shrink on every filling. Our team then inserted paneled walls instead of the earlier concave design. These walls offered support to withstand hot filling.”
Sharma also informs that the design doesn’t distort on applying heat. Further, the bottle has a sleeve printed with all the necessary details. The team selected the shrink-sleeve on the bottle as the sleeve permits them to play with the open areas creating a see-through packaging as the product inside has a tint based on its flavor.
For achieving the perfect design, the team also had to scrap their molds made earlier for the concave design. “The new molds open in three parts—the petal-like bottom and the vertical two sides. The team also found out that the output of the bottle-making increased if the bottle was inverted. The straight bottle would make 10,000 units while the inverted one gave a whopping result of 50,000 units,” shares Chinmaya Nayak, assistant manager, Future Consumer Limited.
All the concentrates and the major ingredients are imported, which were put for stability studies. A major challenge that the product team faced was that of shelf life. All the new fusion drinks launched under Sunkist consist of two variants (Apple+Ginger+ Honey, Kiwi+Lemon) but on adding more variants, the blend reduced the shelf life of the product. So, the product team went for compatibility tests with accelerated shelf life studies and other lab tests. After trying out several permutations and combinations, the team finally achieved a shelf life of 5 months. Currently, the product team is studying for extending shelf life of the product and has reached to develop a formula to achieve 8 months of shelf life.
The newly launched variants include Kiwi Lemon, Apple Ginger Honey, Citrus Twist, Pinakolada, and Berry Punch. Currently, there are three variants available—Orange Lemon Lime, Lemon Cucumber Mint and Mojito. Further, the company is also planning to launch a spice drink in the next three months.