So Delicious Dairy Free, a DanoneWave brand that offers an array of non-dairy food and beverage products, has operated for 30 years with sustainability at its core. Nowhere is this more evident than with the brand’s new Organic Almondmilk with Cashew line, a range of three non-dairy beverages that combines the simplicity of seven or fewer ingredients with a new bottle made from bioplastics.
A custom, 48-oz bottle with clean lines and uncluttered graphics, the packaging for So Delicious Organic Almondmilk is a departure from the paper-based gabletop and aseptic cartons used for its other non-dairy beverages and creamers. In sustainability terms, however, the bottle offers the same benefits: It’s made from renewable materials and is recyclable. But in contrast to the cartons, the bio-based plastic bottle offers a more premium aesthetic to showcase the distinctive and premium new product.
“With such a unique, plant-based beverage inside the bottle—simple, organic recipes with recognizable ingredients—we wanted packaging that matched the proposition,” says Aubrey Yuzva, Senior Brand Manager for So Delicious Dairy Free. “The modern, sleek look of the bottle combined with the heavy use of the plant-based bio-resin helped us create a well-rounded offering that consumers really respond to. They feel like they are making a better choice overall.”
So Delicious is happy with its choice as well. In investigating environmentally-friendly packaging materials for its Organic Almondmilk bottle, it faced a number of options. Ultimately, it selected 80% sugarcane-based I’m green™ Polyethylene from Braskem.
Premium, petroleum-free bottle
DanoneWave—a subsidiary of Danone—was created in April 2017 when WhiteWave Foods and Danone’s dairy business were combined, becoming the largest public benefit corporation in the U.S. Its mission is to nourish people, communities, and the world through its diverse portfolio of healthful dairy- and plant-based products, coffee creamers, and beverages.
As part of DanoneWave, Yuzva says So Delicious is always working to find new ways to meet the corporation’s sustainability goals. “From our robust allergen testing program to the innovative work we do creating products made with the highest-quality ingredients, we are committed to doing the right thing for people, animals, and the planet.”
So Delicious products include dairy-free frozen desserts, beverages, cultured products, coffee creamers, and more, all of which are certified vegan and some of which are enrolled in or are verified by the Non-GMO Project. Its crafted Organic Almondmilk with Cashew product, in Original, Unsweetened, and Vanilla varieties, is its “simplest, most fantastic almondmilk yet,” the company says. The beverage, described as “light-tasting and smooth,” is carrageenan-free, is certified USDA Organic, Gluten Free, Vegan, and Non-GMO Verified, and contains no artificial flavors, sweeteners, or preservatives.
To convey just how fantastic the plant-based beverage is, So Delicious wanted an equally fantastic bottle that matched the sustainability of the product inside. While the company evaluated materials other than I’m green PE, So Delicious Dairy Free Senior Packaging Engineer, Research & Innovation Carolyn Klindt says Braskem’s bioplastic was the best fit for a couple of reasons.
First, So Delicious uses bottle technology, filling equipment, and a network footprint based on high-density polyethylene. With I’m green PE mimicking the properties and functionality of petroleum-based HDPE, the company did not have to invest significant capital into the project. Second, the choice of I’m green PE involved low risk and low complexity. “Braskem’s Green PE is proven technology in other applications,” Klindt explains. “Also, Alpla, our bottle supplier, was already familiar with processing it, which reduced the learning curve.” This was especially helpful given the project’s timeline of one-and-a-half years or less.
Braskem’s I’m green PE is considered a drop-in bioplastic, meaning it’s sourced from a renewable raw material, but it retains the same properties, performance, and application versatility of PE from fossil origins. It even can be recycled within the same recycling stream as traditional PE. I’m green is made from ethanol sugarcane and captures and fixes CO2 from the atmosphere during production, reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
One of the aspects of Braskem’s product that also appeals to So Delicious is that it meets the principles of sustainable development in the Code of Conduct for Ethanol Suppliers, designed and implemented by Braskem. “This covers aspects such as respect for biodiversity and good environmental practices,” says Klindt.
Due to the sensitivity of the Organic Almondmilk product, So Delicious vetted out multiple structure options with the Braskem technology to ensure it could meet the required shelf life and sensory profile desired. The processing of the material was seamless, given Alpla’s past experience extrusion blow molding bottles from the bioplastic.
Simplicity expressed through design
In addition to aligning the sustainability of the product and the packaging material for the new almond milk, So Delicious also mirrored the seven-or-fewer-ingredients simplicity of the non-dairy beverage in the minimalism of the package design. “The bottle was specifically designed with our consumer target and product proposition in mind, simple and premium, with clean lines,” says Klindt. “We received exceptional consumer results from package testing on purchase intent, overall aesthetics, and category and equity attributes and functionality.”
The bottle has a rectangular profile, with the neck curving up from the edges of the rectangle. The bottle is topped with a ribbed, white polypropylene cap that sits flush with the bottle and presents a crown-like shape, resulting in an elegant silhouette. The bottle is decorated with a white, full-body shrink-sleeve label gravure-printed in nine colors plus spot gloss accents and a matte finish.
Label graphics use some of the same elements as other So Delicious beverage packages, but are refined to suit the simplicity of the crafted beverage. Explains Yuzva, “So Delicious Organic Almondmilk is a unique product, stripped down to seven or fewer ingredients. When you develop a product like that, with a bottle that has a story to tell, the brand needs to consider this as a new premium pillar within its brand architecture.
“To start, our logo changed subtly to tell the simplicity story, losing the hearts and stitching, straightening it out, and changing the Dairy Free banner to the version color. We made choices with a clean lineup of photography that tells an ingredient story. Typography is carefully considered and set. The simplicity story on the side panel tells the taste profile and speaks to every ingredient having a purpose. Every inch of the pack is considered, down to the spot varnish that proudly highlights our brandmark and the matte finish that connotes the smoothness of the almond milk.”
Telling the story of the bio-based bottle is an infographic printed on one of the side panels—a feature Yuzva says is critical in connecting with consumers. “We highlight the facts and engage consumers in an approachable tone and step-by-step graphics to help them quickly understand how we’ve accomplished the creation of this bottle,” she says. “This in turn helps consumers understand what our brand believes in at the core—being good to the Earth and each other.”
Passion is contagious
So Delicious introduced Organic Almondmilk with Cashew in February 2018, receiving positive reviews. “Consumers love the smooth, clean taste,” says Yuzva. “Our call center is getting lots of calls praising the simplicity of the recipes, our organic certification, and the packaging sustainability story. Retailers feel we are on the leading edge of food trends by launching a beautiful, delicious, and responsible product.
“So much passion goes in to these products, from the food scientists, to the brand folks, to design, through production. This product is proof of the care, the heart, and collaboration of this team.”