Stop With The Further Individualization of Packaging
More and more new individual beverage packaging is coming onto the market. This trend, which was also evident at BrauBeviale in Nuremberg, must stop, demands Günther Guder, Executive Director of the Federal Association of German Beverage Wholesalers.
Packaging diversity is a boon for the beverage industry overall, says Günther Guder. "Germany has the world's largest and most significant reusable system in the beverage sector." This is due, he says, to the fact that many medium-sized companies offer their various products in the different beverage segments predominantly in returnables. "However, the increasing variety of packaging also leads to more complex handling for the industry as well as wholesalers and retailers," he explains. The hot summer of 2018 was not only particularly strong in terms of sales for manufacturers and distributors of thirst quenchers, but also presented them with special logistical challenges. As a result, Guder says, "We have a good system, but enough is enough; more individual empties don't make sense." He says, "Stop with further individualization."
Most recently, a few weeks ago, the private brewery Heinrich Reissdorf GmbH & Co. KG launched a new individual container for Kölsch - a modern clear glass bottle. "This is not a good decision by the Kölsch market leader," Guder said. Examples from the past show that individualizing the container does not lead to additional sales, but only has a short marketing effect, Guder says. "The manufacturer should know: From our point of view, it's the product that counts first and foremost after all - in other words, the content and the brand," Guder emphasizes.
Euro bottle experiences renaissance
The additional returnable containers introduced to the market in recent years are sufficient, he says, citing examples. The beers "Tannenzäpfle" or "Augustiner" have been selling well for decades in the 0.33l Vichy bottle or the small, round Euro bottle introduced in 1954. The Euro bottle is currently experiencing a renaissance anyway. Another positive example of the further development of the refillable bottle is provided by the family-owned company Euroglas Verpackungsgesellschaft mbH, which won the German Environmental Aid's 2018 Refillable Innovation Award with its new bottle "die kleine Halbe". The 33cl format is in line with the zeitgeist in beverage filling, they say. "But does another manufacturer then have to launch yet another additional variant on the market right away?" asks Guder critically.
According to a 2014 Deloitte study commissioned by the Federation of the German Food Industry (BVE) and the German Retail Association (HDE), 0.5-liter containers account for three-quarters of the reusable share, Guder explains. Individual bottles account for only 15 percent of the 0.5-liter market and 11 percent of the total market.
For economic reasons and to protect the environment, returnable pool systems are preferable to individual containers. This is because around 50 beverage wholesalers offer sorting as a paid service when crates are mixed. A procedure for improved logistical handling of the disposal of individual bottles from stores was also discussed by mutual agreement under the direction of GS1-Germany GmbH with all market participants at the beginning of 2017. Neutral replacement containers such as trays play an important role here. In the future, these neutral trays could also be used to deliver so-called six-packs to the stores. "This could reduce the use of branded crates and avoid complexity in logistics," says Guder
However, Guder does not want to demonize individual bottles either: "Transport distances for individual bottles are not generally longer. And according to the Deloitte study, returnable individual bottles with up to 25 circulations achieve sufficiently high circulation rates." After all, the first ten circulations of a reusable bottle already generate around 90 percent of the resource-saving effects.
Conclusion: "Existing reusable systems must be expanded and updated. The use of pool systems for reusable bottles should take priority over individual containers for economic reasons and to protect the environment."