Splash Beverage Group, a Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based company specializing in the manufacture, distribution, sales, and marketing of non-alcoholic and alcoholic beverages, announced in June that it was “enhancing its commitment to developing market share for innovative, socially conscious brands that are sustainably focused.” Walking the walk, the company is the sole distributor outside of Spain of a sangria brand with indisputable sustainability street cred: Pulpoloco Sangria.
Says Splash CEO Robert Nistico, three things attracted Splash to the brand: “The sustainable, game-changing packaging, the sangria liquid itself, and the branding!”
Imported from Spain, Pulpoloco is made from a blend of Tempranillo wine, fruit, and spices, and comes in Soft Rosé, Crisp White, and Smooth Red flavors. What really differentiates the brand, however, is its unique packaging. Instead of glass or aluminum, the mixed alcoholic beverage is packaged in a 250-mL, smooth-finish, aseptic paper can, the CartoCan®, developed by German equipment supplier Hörauf, that’s decorated in colorful, mosaic-like graphics. It’s the full package.
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“Pulpoloco launched [in 2017] in the paper CartoCan packaging because the founder became aware of how special the packaging was,” reports Nistico. “The aseptic processing allows the flavor complexity to come through… . Sustainability should be important to all beverage companies, and the Pulpoloco brand is enjoyed by a generation of consumers who want their brands to prioritize their environmental impact.”
The CartoCan has five components: the body, lid, edge protection strip, bottom, and pull tab. With the exception of the pull tab, the can is made from a four-layer barrier structure, 60% of which is paper that is Forest Stewardship Council-certified. Nistico says the current construction includes foil, but Splash is beta testing a version without the aluminum layer. The CartoCan is said by the company to be 30% more eco-friendly than aluminum or PET and to use 30% fewer total raw materials to create. An icon on the back of the Pulpoloco can reads, “20-60% Less CO2 Than Alternative Packaging.” The CartoCan also offers a 12-month shelf life without preservatives and is fully recyclable.
While there are other aseptic packaging technologies on the market, Nistico says CartoCan was chosen because it provides a better experience for wine. “The perfect cylinder shape and soft-touch finish make the package so much more elegant than the other [aseptic] packages,” he says.
However, the cylinder shape does present challenges for forming and filling. “Hörauf had to create a two-stage process in a single machine,” Nistico says. “Where the blocky-style aseptic packages envelope the liquid in a single-stage form, fill, and seal, the CartoCan requires a cup-formation stage and then a subsequent but separate filling and sealing stage.”
Pulpoloco Sangria is co-packed in Austria by dairy company and Hörauf partner Ennstal Milch, which has operated several CartoCan machines since they first became available in 2013. Hörauf converts the can rollstock, which is printed in five colors. It also provides the film/foil pull tab that is adhered over the opening of the can in the first stage of the packaging process.
Splash currently distributes Pulpoloco Sangria in 22 U.S. states and has plans to expand to all 50, as well as to two Central American countries. The product is sold in single cans or four packs, with a suggested retail price of $3.49 per can.
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