The previous generation of PET beer bottles in South Africa were no more than standard CSD bottles, with(carbonated soft drinks) round shoulders, straight bodies and short necks. Boxmore Packaging’s new PET beer bottles are the ﬁrst PET bottles specifically designed for beer on the SA market. The company does not believe that premium beers will always be bottled in glass because of supposed “image of quality” and proclaims that its research indicates that “it is more the colour of the packaging than the material that determines the perception that a beer is premium”. The PET industry has long seen beer as the next great challenge and opportunity. Having already converted most of the soft drinks market away from the more traditional glass and can formats, the next major drinks category to conquer is beer.
As a first step, and as one of South Africa’s leading PET producers, Boxmore recently launched the ﬁrst bottle range designed specifically for beer and 500ml and 1 litre beer bottles are already on the shelves. Although use of PET for “mainstream” beer has been limited to events and promotions (like the Budweiser bottle sold at World Cup stadiums last year), Boxmore believes that there is growing acceptance of it within SA’s emerging microbrewer industry and says that in time, microbrewers will build the acceptance of PET as a format and create opportunities in the mainstream market. Zea Oosthuizen, key account manager at Boxmore Packaging, goes on “PET is the ideal format for artisanal beer and the emerging brewer. One of the biggest ‘traditional’ barriers to using PET for beer is that most mainstream beer is pasteurised after filling, and although this is possible with specially-made PET bottles, pasteurisation before filling is difficult and costly. Artisanal beer, on the other hand, is generally not pasteurised”.
She continues “Also, from an equipment point of view, for many emerging microbreweries, starting out and growing in PET is much easier and cheaper than in glass. In contrast, most of the big brewers are already invested both in glass filling equipment and returnable glass bottles, so a change to PET could be extremely costly. PET beer bottles are also attractive for microbreweries as unit costs are lower and the bottle is lighter. In transport, there are savings to and from the factory. And of course, there are less breakages”