(Chicago IL). Sales of Coke's various brands in supermarkets were up too - 2.3% by IRI's count. And that was before the triple digit temperatures of late July and August began to cheer the bottlers. Soft drink makers like farmers are happy to accept bumper crops brought on by weather over which they have no control. But this year the Coca-Cola Co. is even more pleased by the sales impact of its decision to replace 20-oz stock PET bottles with a contour design reminiscent of its classic "hobble skirt" glass bottle. "Of 44 markets where the contour bottle has been available for over a year we are averaging a 46% lift over the [straight-walled] bottle it replaced" a company official tells us. Roll-out of the shaped PET bottle has been underway for about two years. It's now available in 90% of the U.S. market. Considering the reception the 20-oz contour PET bottle has been receiving it's not surprising that one- two- and three-liter contour PET bottles are also being evaluated as part of the "proprietary packaging strategy" adopted by the company in 1992. The next phase in Coke's strategy is the evaluation of shaped cans. We're not apt to see a contour Coke can roll-out in the states for at least two years but the company is working on the idea. Coke is evaluating at least three different shaped can designs-and probably several more. In Germany where consumers are already familiar with uniquely shaped cans for ground coffee vegetable oils and other foods Coke put a contour three-piece steel can in consumers' hands...and got a positive feedback. The 330-ml can formed to resemble a classic Coke bottle without a neck (see photo) incorporated an aluminum 206 end with a nondetachable easy-open tab. Coke isn't saying much about its quest for a shaped can but one insider admits a steel body was used for the German three-piece contour can test because "at this point we're not satisfied with the technology of aluminum for such a can." An aluminum version however is being worked on. Last March a two-piece contour Coke can was designed patented and assigned to the Coca-Cola Co. in a collaboration of its engineers and KornickLindsay (Chicago IL). If Coke isn't saying much about its search for a shaped can Joseph M. Kornick principal of KornickLindsay won't even admit that the patent for an "ornamental design for a can body" is for a two-piece can. One of Kornick's shaped can design objectives was to develop some "far-out" concepts as well as some "closer in" ideas for Coke. One of the "close-in" shaped can designs a "dynamic ribbon" can Kornick calls it (see photo page 143) is undergoing limited retail market tests in Canada. This two-piece aluminum can incorporates a series of vertical flutes in the shape of Coke's signature wave debossed vertically around its walls. Other ideas including bringing back PET cans (but this time with curved profiles) are being discussed as part of Coke's quest for distinctive container shapes that appeal to consumers.