Heinz Ketchup’s New Dispensing Valve | Materials Shortages Rankle Bev Industry

Iconic Heinz Ketchup switched to a new dispensing valve and closure that will make the pack more sustainable. Meanwhile, beverage producers struggle with materials shortages.


Quick hits:

  • When iconic brands like Heinz Ketchup make packaging changes, Packaging World takes notice. But in this case, the sustainability-minded improvement should go unnoticed by producers on the packaging line, and end consumers alike.
  • The new dispensing valve is made of TPE material that’s low density and readily floats at the MRF, making it easy to separate from PET and funnel into PP and PE recycling streams.
  • Beverage manufacturers are being squeezed by materials shortages.
  • Beverage manufacturers are increasingly looking to machinery, specifically smart machinery with AI capabilities, to help navigate material shortages. Kim Overstreet explains how this works. 

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   Read the transcript below:

Matt Reynolds: Hello, I’m Matt Reynolds, editor of Packaging World, back with another edition of Take Five.

Iconic Heinz Ketchup recently adopted a new dispenser valve and closure. The brand owner is switching to the new, recyclable SimpliCycle from Aptar Food and Beverage. This closure will be found in several Kraft Heinz brands by the end of the year.

Why make the change? You guessed it, sustainability. The company has ambitious goals of being fully recyclable by 2025, and they think this new closure will make an impact in that regard.

The new valve a replacement for existing silicone valve technology used in ketchup and condiments dispensing closures. The existing valve is considered recyclable, but can be detrimental to the olefin recycle stream. This new thermoplastic elastomer or TPE valve can be readily recycled in widely acceptable markets, because it’s a low density material. That allows it to float and be easily separated from the PET recycle stream at material recovery facilities. The closure is ultimately recycled along with PP and PE recycling stream.

Whenever an iconic brand makes a packaging design change, we take note at Packaging World. A lot of brand capital has been built up over the years, and deviations from familiar packaging aren’t often taken lightly.

Luckily for Heinz Ketchup, this change should be totally invisible to the consumer. For them, it’s business as usual for dispensing ketchup to burgers and fries. But never a hotdog, not here in Chicago.

Also, there’s no post-use disposal or handling changes for the customer: The recycling process for the consumer remains unchanged; a bottle rinse before recycling is all that’s needed.

Finally, there are no performance changes: I asked Jordan Kinsler, a Kraft Heinz Packaging engineer about the project, and this is what he had to say.

“After conducting performance testing and research with Aptar, we were happy to see that there were virtually no differences in valve performance from a quantitative or consumer experience standpoint,”. “This change is invisible to the consumer, which is an exciting prospect to know that the consumer experience remains unchanged, but we’re advancing in our efforts to deliver fully recyclable packages to market.”

And, here’s an important factor that consumers don’t see, but there were no changes to packaging equipment for the brand. The Kraft Heinz Company did not have to make any changes to its existing packaging lines or equipment to accommodate the shift to the new closure. The valve is held in place with a retention ring snapped into the closure. The same ring is used for both the new and the legacy valve substrates, so the bottle itself didn’t have to change, either.

Other Kraft Heinz brands including Heinz Mustard, Heinz Mashups, and Heinz BBQ Sauce, will have been converted to the SimpliCycle valve by the end of the year as well.

Next up, my colleague Kim Overstreet will talk about current beverage trends, namely their difficulty in sourcing packaging materials, and how they are navigating this hurdle. 

Kim Overstreet: Hi, I’m Kim Overstreet, and today I’m going to talk about beverage trends and a report from PMMI Business Intelligence.

Almost all beverage manufacturers interviewed for the report are experiencing shortages sourcing materials and ingredients, and to keep up with consumer demand, they need to add greater efficiency to their operation by making machines “smarter” and updating older equipment with modern technology.

Many said they are planning to add additional packaging equipment to their operations, as well as processing machinery, filling equipment, and new sterilization systems.

Automation is the biggest investment trend, with 72% of manufacturers intending to expand data-driven solutions in their operations. They would also like to increase the amount of data they are collecting and analyzing, by using sensor deployment and increased integration.

There are a few consumer-driven trends affecting the beverage market, and the first is functional ingredients. Consumers are turning to beverages as a way to incorporate functional ingredients into their diets, hoping to regulate mood, improve mental fitness, and promote physical performance.

Nootropics, pre, pro and post-biotics are all growing in popularity, and to incorporate these into beverages, manufacturers are introducing new ingredients and new offerings into their portfolios.

83% of manufacturers interviewed are altering ingredients to meet consumer health demands and are consequently turning to clean and clear labeling to promote these changes. 33% are looking into smart packaging [RFID, NFC, and QR codes], and augmented reality labeling has grown in beverage packaging 120% in two years’ time.

Sustainability and e-commerce are two of the other trends affecting the beverage market.

89% of beverage manufacturers are trying to make their products more sustainable by reducing the amount of plastic in packaging, necessitating machinery that can run at a variety of speeds and handle a variety of recycled content.

And finally, as the pandemic accelerated online grocery sales, 61% of consumers said they shop online now more than they did pre-pandemic, and it’s predicted that market share gains will remain at least partially beyond the pandemic.

D2C sales have also become more common, with 44% of beverage manufacturers interviewed shipping some of their products directly to consumers through e-commerce orders.

Related e-commerce consumer preferences for products like gallon size, multipacks, and smaller sizes are likely to continue as well.

Thanks for watching. If you’d like to download this free report, check out this link. 

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