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Custom bottle 'juices' Odwalla

Last month, beverage marketer Odwalla, Inc. introduced a custom-designed bottle for its 450-mL and 325-mL refrigerated juices that it says extends shelf life by 40% compared to a previous bottle.

The multilayer bottle (mock-up versions are shown) is extrusion blow-molded on a 24-cavity wheel system by Graham Packaging (York PA) at its Rancho Cucamonga CA plant. "It includes nylon and high-density polyethylene as opposed to the previous version which was HDPE only" says Odwalla communications manager Erin Markey. She says the bottle's nylon oxygen barrier is a key to the extended shelf life. "Shelf life varies by product as we have about 25 different flavors and 60 SKUs. But on average the new bottle gives us 20 to 25 days" says Markey. She says the new bottle better retains product flavor than its predecessor and it looks better. The bottle's obelisk shape and "bursts" molded into its shoulders stand out from the previous "off-the-shelf" bottle Markey believes.

The bottom of the bottle carries two industry-standard recycling codes: "7" for "other" and "2" for "compatible HDPE and nylon." The wraparound label is a 3.5-mil oriented polypropylene printed offset in six colors. Odwalla would not divulge supplier names or details concerning the label or the color-coordinated tamper-evident screw-on caps.

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The bottles help the company expand distribution of the all-natural fresh-squeezed and nutritionally fortified juices and smoothies. Once sold solely in the western states the juices are now in 20 states including several midwest cities and the District of Columbia. A new production line in Odwalla's Dinuba CA facility feeds the expanded distribution area.

The new bottle isn't cheap. "It costs about 50 percent more than the earlier version" Markey admits. As a result the new bottles are smaller than previous bottles. On its Web site Odwalla says it is "providing this superior improved packaging at the same price but in slightly smaller sizes to offset the new bottle's material costs." Suggested retail price for the 450-mL size sold at grocery stores and natural product stores ranges from $1.89 for juice to $2.89 for complex nutritional drinks. The smaller 325-mL size Markey says is sold at foodservice outlets including Starbucks and bagel stores.

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