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5 key packaging considerations for the drink sector

5 key packaging considerations for the drink sector

The holiday season is fast approaching, which means sales of food and drink are set to climb in the coming months. And with the non-alcoholic beverage sector experiencing 20% growth in the first quarter of 2021, demand for affordable, protective drinks packaging has surged in recent months. 

But when it comes to housing delicate products and storing fast-moving consumer goods, there are a range of factors to bear in mind.

To make sure you’re on the right path to better packaging purchases for your consumable products, here’s a list of key points to consider.

Key considerations for drinks packaging

1. Materials

It’s likely unsurprising that the choice of materials for your bottled goods plays a huge role in product presentation, safety and recyclability - as well as taste. 

There are numerous materials for beverage companies to select from, but the three most commonly selected bottle materials are glass, plastic and metal. Each has their benefits and drawbacks when it comes to packability, product shelf life and temperature control. But with presentation, labelling, safety and cost to factor into the equation, making the right decision can be the difference between a profitable business and a loss-making exercise. 


Glass offers a premium look and feel and benefits from virtually zero oxygen intake or CO2 loss, extending the life of your products. Better still, glass is both non-porous and impermeable, meaning product taste and freshness are unaffected in storage and transit. Unfortunately though, glass is heavy and fragile, meaning fairly high volumes of secondary packaging are required to ensure safe delivery, adding to consignment weights and increasing costs. 


Plastic (PET) is the most widely used material for bottle production globally. The material is lightweight, hardwearing and easy to pack. Unique shapes can be machine moulded with ease, and the strength and durability of PET ensures carbonated drinks can be stored with safety. Despite all their benefits, however, plastic bottles typically have a shorter shelf life than their metal and glass counterparts, and while the material is entirely recyclable, the leftover PET bottles from low-cost drinks are often discarded, resulting in waste to landfill. 


Much like plastic, metal (aluminium, in particular) is lightweight and durable - and, like glass, it’s great at preventing oxygen ingress and CO2 loss. But while aluminium might seem like the ideal choice for brands seeking a highly recyclable, versatile packaging solution, global shortages on cans are creating a range of issues for beverage producers worldwide. So if you’re able to risk potential supply shortfalls in the immediate term, aluminium is a cost-effective, versatile and sustainable choice. 

2. Labelling and design

It’s essential to have a grasp on your bottle’s design. By failing to consider the impact of the shape and overall look of your packaging, you could be missing a vital opportunity to tell your brand’s story and make your product stand out from the crowd.

Your bottles’ storage capacity will play a large role in influencing both the design considerations and the choice of material. Increased volume requirements will lead to higher production costs - with varying label needs, depending on the bottle’s material. 

With silk-screening, pre-printing, labelling and more to choose from–along with multiple wraps and orientations–nailing your bottle’s design is essential. Creating a compelling final product allows you to communicate your brand values and differentiate yourself from your competitors, giving you the edge in a highly competitive market. 

3. Production 

Once you have your chosen material and bottle design in order, getting a handle on production is essential.

There are two primary choices for businesses looking to outsource when it comes to canning and bottling: co-packers and mobile vendors. 

Co-packers offer the facilities necessary to transfer your beverages into cans and bottles. In many cases, co-packers can offer warehousing and brewing services on top of their production facilities. When selecting the right partner for the job, it’s important to consider production volumes, processing capacities, legal and regulatory compliance, packaging compatibility, fees and costs. Be sure to also bear in mind best practices for manufacturing and the co-packer’s distance in relation to your main distribution points. 

Mobile vendors do what their name suggests: they travel to clients to provide the packing line at the production site - often at a premium. While this reduces the risks of entering into long-term contracts with co-packers, mobile vendors typically operate at a higher cost, with less capacity to meet demand at scale. 

For businesses wishing to integrate production facilities into their own manufacturing lines, sizable investments are required - in machining, installation, training, maintenance and repairs. It’s therefore essential to calculate the potential risks and long-term returns available following large-scale investments in vertical integration.

A note on secondary packaging

Successfully packaging your products is just the first step en route to getting your products on the shelves. Once stored in bottles/cans, your products will need to be housed in bottle sleeves, packed into cartons, stacked into crates or bundled with pack rings (before being stacked onto pallets). For smaller operations and retailers, bottle carriers made from cardboard are a lightweight, versatile and recyclable way of storing and moving multiple large glass bottles at once. 

4. Transportation and storage

With perishable products, understanding your transport and storage requirements means much more than simply calculating pallet space and freight expenses. Instead, temperature variability, the protection capacity of your secondary packaging, and the effects of the surrounding environment all play a part in preserving or damaging your goods.

When it comes to transport requirements, the primary questions beverage producers must ask are as follows:

  • Will my products need to be refrigerated whilst in transit?
  • How will changes in temperature affect the product packaging?
  • What kind of volumes can be safely transported in each consignment?
  • What are the costs of transporting my products, given our packaging needs?
  • Is the packaging robust enough to withstand the friction and knocks of the transport process?

Storing beverages also entails a range of challenges. When it comes to housing your products en masse, it’s essential to ask the following:

  • Are there temperature/moisture-controlled storage facilities on-site?
  • What’s the safety and security of my products?
  • How regularly are product inspections conducted?
  • What are the storage capacities?
  • How are the products stored?
  • How readily available will my products be if I need to fulfil orders at short notice? 

5. Partnering with the right business

No matter how far along you are in getting your products to market, ensuring your business is working with the right partners is essential. 

From sustainable packaging products to bespoke solutions for FMCG businesses, we can offer the manufacturing, storage and transport facilities to ensure your drinks packaging needs are met. Email us at, send us a message, or phone 01543 396700 today to discover how we can integrate process-efficient solutions into your business.