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PET bottles unite Union's flavored vodka line

In July, Chicago-based Union Beverage Co. introduced a line of six flavored 80-proof vodkas in polyethylene terephthalate bottles. The new line also represents Union’s first use of plastic. Previously, Union used only glass bottles.

Pw 16805 Lubeca

The 200- and 375-mL rounds and 750-mL oblongs for the new Dimitri-brand spirits are injection stretch/blow-molded by Schmalbach-Lubeca (Manchester, MI). They’re decorated with glue-applied, 60# paper labels from St. Louis Lithographing (St. Louis, MO). A color-coordinated cap tops the bottles.

“PET bottles are ideal for our product line because of their light weight, freight savings, and elimination of breakage on our lines, which can cause downtime,” says John Staruck, general manager of Union Beverage. “We didn’t need to add new equipment for the PET bottles,” he says. “We were able to get more bottles on a truck because of some different pallet pack configurations, which enabled us to use smaller case sizes for the PET bottles,” he notes. Another economic advantage: PET produces a two-to-three percent per-bottle savings, according to Staruck. Those advantages explain why Union Beverage has changed to PET for all its sizes, except for liters.

So far, the new Dimitri offerings “have done well,” he says. Sold in off-premise retail outlets, primarily in Illinois, the flavored vodkas retail for $1.99 to $2.19 for the 200-mL size, $3.39 to $3.59 for the 375-mL, and $5.99 to $6.99 for the 750-mL version. Staruck anticipates that Union Beverage will introduce at least three of the flavors in a 1.75-L PET bottle next year. (JB)

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