PKN EXCLUSIVE: British sustainable packaging firm Frugalpac is sending vodka and gin products in its paper Frugal Bottle to Australia and New Zealand as the Free Trade Agreements with the UK come into force. Two local brands are early adopters, two local contract bottlers are offering Frugal Bottle filling services, and an Australian packaging printing group has confirmed intent to purchase the Frugal Bottle Assembly Machine.
The Frugal Bottle, developed by Frugalpac, was launched in 2020 as the world’s first and only commercially available paper bottle for wines, spirits and olive oils, with a red wine from Italy’s Cantina Goccia*. Since then, this packaging format has gained global recognition, with Frugalpac seeing such strong sales and interest from drinks producers around the world that it now has enquiries to make more than 120 million Frugal Bottles, and has opened a new 11,000 square foot Frugal Bottle factory in Ipswich, UK to meet the global demand.
Frugalpac says its Frugal Bottle is made from 94 per cent recycled paperboard with a food-grade flexible plastic pouch to hold the liquid. Weighing 83 grams, it is five times lighter than a standard glass bottle, and is lighter to carry and transport.
The company cites an independent Life Cycle Analysis by Intertek that found the Frugal Bottle, which is made from recycled paperboard with no chemicals, has a carbon footprint up to six times (84 per cent) lower than a glass bottle and more than a third less than a bottle made from 100 per cent recycled plastic. The Frugal Bottle’s water footprint is also at least four times lower than glass, Frugalpac says.
When it comes to recycling the Frugal Bottle, the consumer separates the plastic pouch from the paper bottle, placing the items in the respective recycling bins. Frugalpac says the pouch is certified recyclable and is a polyethylene metallised polyester laminate, the same material used in bag in box wines. [Ed's note: Of course, this requires the recycling infrastructure to be in place for that material, in the short term this is a challenge in the Australian market.]
Compared with a plastic bottle, Frugalpac says, the Frugal Bottle uses up to 77 per cent less plastic, and weighs 15g compared to a 64g bottle made from 100 per cent recycled plastic.
Frugalpac also makes the case for the paper bottle's marketability, noting that the paper surface allows for 360-degree branding across the bottle, and as no other wine or spirits bottle looks or feels like it, the Frugal Bottle stands out on shelf and table.
More than 32 different drinks producers from around the world agree, and have launched 100 different SKUs of wines, spirits and olive oils in the Frugal Bottle, available in 22 countries, with Australia and New Zealand the company's newest export markets.
An important part of the Frugal Bottle proposition is the Frugal Bottle Assembly Machines (called FBAM-1). Frugalpac says its focus is to sell the assembly machine into local markets to allow the Frugal Bottle to be made locally, thereby reducing carbon further through less shipping, creating local jobs and use of local materials, and ultimately reducing cost to the industry.
A Frugal Bottle Assembly Machine can produce 2.5 million paper bottles a year, and offers an opportunity to contract fillers and packaging companies to increase the value of their products and services.
The first FBAM-1 machine to be sold has gone to Kinsbrae Packaging in Canada, to serve the Canadian and North American drinks markets.
DEMAND FROM DOWN UNDER
Frugalpac CEO Malcolm Waugh confirmed that in Australia, Frugalpac has seven strong enquiries for its FBAM-1 from packaging companies.
Waugh told PKN that Print Media Group (PMG), which is headquartered in Scoresby, Victoria, has shown intent to buy the Frugal Bottle Assembly Machine and install it in Australia to help drinks companies decarbonise.
Waugh said, “Australia is a huge market for our Frugal Bottle and it’s clear there is now strong demand amongst consumers and the industry for more sustainable packaging. We currently have enquiries to order more than 27 million bottles for Australia.
“Whilst we currently make our Frugal Bottles in the UK, this partnership with Print Media Group will allow Frugal Bottles to be made in Australia to serve one of the largest wine producing countries in the world.
“It always been our aim to place our paper bottle machines as close to the drinks producers as possible so we can reduce the carbon footprint of our sustainable packaging even further and have Frugal Bottle hubs around the world.
“We welcome Print Media Group to the paper bottle revolution and look forward to working together to help the Australian drinks industry decarbonise even further.”
Print Media Group’s COO Parveen Akthertol said, “Sustainable packaging is not a passing trend, it’s a vital need. All companies want to reduce their carbon footprint, so when we saw what the Frugal Bottle could offer for drinks producers in Australia, we wanted to deliver this remarkable solution.
“There’s a huge market for paper Frugal Bottles in Australia; 1.3 billion litres of wine are produced annually in the country and the rising cost of making and buying glass bottles, which also require a lot of energy to produce, has led to a lot of producers consider more sustainable options.
“PMG has always had sustainability at its core. For example, we offer carbon neutral and recycled paper as standard stock items for digital and offset printing. It’s therefore a natural progression for us to bring the paper Frugal Bottle to Australia and we can’t wait to get started.”
Two Australian drinks producers are currently offering a Frugal Bottle filling service, Sanector part of the San Miguel Yamamura Group focuses on wine, and Encore Beverages, an Australian owned and operated contract beverage manufacturer and bottler based in Melbourne, which bottles wines and spirits.
In early June, Frugalpac was invited invited by the UK Government to send its paper Frugal Bottles to trade chiefs in Australia and New Zealand to mark the Free Trade Agreements with the countries coming into force.
Under the deals’ beneficial terms, tariffs on all UK goods exports to Australia and New Zealand will be removed, unprecedented access to these markets for services unlocked, and red tape slashed for digital trade and work visas.
Among the first consignment of UK products heading Down Under are Silent Pool’s Green Man Wildwood vodka and gin and Quintessential Brands' Greenall’s Greener Gin – all in paper Frugal Bottles made in Ipswich.
Two local brands are early adopters too. New Zealand-based British expats Mothers Ruined sells its award-winning craft gin in paper bottles in New Zealand, and launching imminently in a Frugal Bottle is a premium vodka by Sydney-based Mother of Pearl Vodka.
* Since launching in June 2020, the Cantina Goccia 3Q bottle sold-out twice, with one wine chain, Woodwinters in Scotland, selling its whole stock in just one day. The feedback from industry and consumers continued to be so overwhelmingly positive it prompted Cantina Goccia to release two further wines in the Frugal Bottle. It was also convinced to move 80 per cent of its wine production into the paper bottle. Cantina Goccia’s wines are now on sale across many EU countries as well as Japan and Canada.