Wines and spirits
Selecting paperboard for packaging:
Competition among branded products
The wine and spirits market is characterised by strong competition among branded products. The product range includes premium spirits, liqueurs and wines. In order to enhance brand image and product identity, high quality outer packaging is used; luxurious and prestigious cartons that create sales appeal. The carton shapes are mainly functional, since the heavy bottles need to be safely protected. Their surface presentations, though, are all the more creative.
Wines and spirits are very sophisticated in concept, and their packaging reflects these features. The bottle is often exclusively designed and labelled, a design reinforced by the carton which keeps its expensive contents in perfect condition and expresses its essential characteristics. When choosing paperboard for wines and spirits the main criteria are strength, together with characteristics which facilitate the most exquisite surface presentation.
Choice of paperboard
The packaging is the most important part of the brand image. Often the brand symbol and the product name are the main features of the surface decoration, standing out from a background which enhances prestige and quality. Luxury and elegance are always present in the design, sparklingly expressed on a glossy surface or discretely in an undertoned manner with sparse decorations on a matt and smooth surface. Use is often made of printed gold, embossed design, lamination or hot foil stamping. A special surface texture may highlight the uniqueness of the product. Since the shape of the carton has to be mainly protective, freedom of surface design is vital in order to reflect different life styles in the promotion.
Important characteristics of the paperboard are whiteness, smoothness and surface finish. Very high print quality is required, with good contrast between the surface and the print, to achieve excellent presentation of sharp half-tone illustrations or bold, strong colours in large solid areas. The graphical presentation calls for pure virgin fibres. The use of virgin fibres, together with selected coating ingredients, also ensure good light stability to avoid fading. Embossing, lamination and hot foil stamping require surface strength. The shape of the package calls for a very strong and tough multiply paperboard.
The main purpose of the package is to provide physical protection of the expensive contents from hazards in distribution, storage and handling. Therefore a strong paperboard is critically important. It is also important that the carton is in excellent condition at the point of sale. Also some form of tamper evidence needs to be incorporated in the package design, to ensure the integrity of the product.
Important protective characteristics of paper board for wines and spirits are compression strength, folding endurance and stiffness. Together with good creasing and gluing properties these characteristics ensure a strong carton. Increased protection is often achieved by the use of E-flute, where paperboard is used for the top liner. Also, for some cartons a fitment is inserted to give added protection. Virgin fibres provide for creases on closure flaps which are durable to repeated opening and closing. A smooth surface provides for ease of handling. It also provides for good rub and abrasion resistance, thereby preserving the graphical presentation.
Printing and conversion
To obtain efficiency in printing and conversion a flat, stable and dust free paperboard is required. Good absorption and drying properties, as well as good cutting, creasing and gluing properties are important. Thus a high print quality is ensured, whilst process stoppages and material waste are minimised. For prestigious cartons, produced in a multi-step process, paperboard with extremely high stability is needed, to achieve perfect register.
The cartons are usually rectangular in cross section, with tuck-in-flap closures. The base may be crash lock in style to give adequate strength. Exclusive products are often hand packed, whereas high volume products are packed through mechanically assisted operations, sometimes at high speed. The cartons are usually provided with the side seam glued for erection, filling and closing. The packaging machines require low creasing resistance and low carton opening force.