Elopak, the Norwegian-based packaging group, has designed a carton which it hopes will allow it to exploit the growing opportunity for dairy-based beverages in the South African market, Tom Armitage reports.
The products, manufactured for Danone Clover and Clover Beverages, have already been successfully launched across South Africa earlier this year.
The Pure-Pak Curve carton, which is available in a 1 litre format, and its smaller 300ml Mini Diamond alternative, have been designed for use with two vitamin enhanced dairy-based beverages, Danao and Vitalinea, which Elopak hopes will help it penetrate the burgeoning South African market for health and wellness dairy products.
The packaging solutions represent a significant development for Elopak South Africa, which, according to marketing manager Wessel Strydom, is beginning to introduce packaging solutions mirroring those of its European counterparts.
Speaking to DairyReporter.com, Strydom noted that "Elopak's product innovations correlate to the changes in consumer trends and lifestyles. A mega-trend in modern western societies today is the 'on-the-go' generation," a trend which he believes South Africa will soon follow.
This so-called nomadism - referring to the current consumer trend for portable disposable packaging - has been one of the most important trends impacting the food and beverage markets in recent years.
"Fast moving lifestyles, the greater flexibility of working and leisure hours and increasing mobility have led to an erosion of formal meal practices and spurred the evolution of behaviours such as snacking," he said.
Furthermore, Strydom believes that this change in lifestyle will have important implications for packaging suppliers in the future: "Functionality values are taking on more importance and, consequently, the single-serve market is seeing significant changes reflecting these trends, which is in turn influencing packaging innovations," he added.
Packaging has now become a priority for most dairy producers, who increasingly use it to establish a unique brand identity in a crowded retail environment.
"Packaging design is the only thing that differentiates one product from another in the market place," said Strydom, although he conceded that "even with the most brilliant packaging available, if your product is sub-standard you will not be able to sell as the modern consumer is becoming more and more informed".
Although South Africa is witnessing a shift towards healthier, natural dairy-based beverages, it does not possess the spending power of European countries, and the South African market is "too small to develop specific consumer packaging solutions for niche consumer groups," noted Strydom.
According to industry analysts Euromonitor , the South African flavoured milk sector, which includes dairy-based fruit drinks, is currently valued at US$132 million, with an estimated growth rate of 2.9 per cent from 2003 to 2004.