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The incredible power of shrink packaging

Shrink packaging of bottles, jars, cups and other rigid containers has amazing product merchandising and protection powers. While assuring the wholesomeness of food and beverages contained, shrink packaging can also transform a container frog into a packaging prince.

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Six shrink-sleeved bottles now appearing on retail shelves represent the state of the art in bottle shrink packaging. The bottles in question hold six flavors of Whipper-Snapple(TM) shelf-stable fruit smoothies from Triarc Beverage Group, White Plains, NY. For the product launch, Triarc is using custom flint glass bottles from Owens-Illinois, Inc. (Toledo, OH). They're capped with 43-mm metal lug closures from White Cap, Inc. (Downers Grove, IL). The undulating sidewalls of the glass bottles lend a degree of distinction to the containers in comparison to their largely straight-walled competitors. But it's WhipperSnapple's fluorescent, full-body, polyvinyl chloride shrink sleeves that radiate light and give the line its high visibility. The sleeves are produced by CMS Gilbreth (Trevose, PA) and Lawson Mardon Flexible (Arlington Heights, IL). Enhancing product visibility, of course, is just one of the value-added benefits of rigid container shrink packaging. As we got to thinking about all the other benefits, we decided to "pull a David Letterman" and compile a Top 10 list. No doubt, you could add to it. Certainly, you can learn a lot more about the how's and why's of shrink sleeves, bands, tapes, labels and so on from the dozen or so companies that supply them. Or you can find specifications, application case histories and contact names/numbers on line by searching for "shrink" after logging onto Internet sites like Packaging World's, the Packaging Machinery Manufacturers Institute's, or our own In the meantime, here's our Top Ten list of value-added features of rigid container shrink packaging: 1. Reducing shoplifting. Shrink wrap won't absolutely deter the committed criminal, but it does put up a barrier to those who would steal products such as computer software and CDs from their primary packages. 2. Product identification. Full 360° wraparound graphics including scannable bar codes, nutrition labels, ingredient statements and, increasingly, the company web site address can be carried on the sleeves. 3. Light protection. Many of the bottle sleeves we see are sheathing flint glass bottles of foods and beverages, which can be adversely affected by various types of light. 4. Inventory streamlining. Rather than having to warehouse a supply of printed containers to match your extensive inventory of SKUs, shrink labels let you cut your warehousing space and cost by stocking unprinted containers and applying shrink labels on the packaging line. 5. Tamper evidence. A growing number of bottles and jars today feature either full-body shrink sleeves or smaller neck bands that extend up and over the closures to provide another barrier to unwanted entry. 6. Breakage reduction. A thin skin of PVC, oriented polystyrene or polyester can, in addition to beautifying the primary container, protect it from the shattering impacts of distribution. 7. Multiple-unit sales promotion. A simple band of film around two, three or more containers makes it easier for the consumer to buy multiples instead of single containers. Bumble Bee tuna is effectively selling three cans at a time by shrink wrapping them in fishnet-printed film. 8. Cross merchandising. Got a lotion to go with that shampoo? A growing number of packagers are promoting their line extensions by shrink wrapping a sampler of one to the primary container of the other. 9. Visual appeal upgrading. AriZona's ready-to-drink teas and drinks are not significantly better than many of their competitors. Their distinctive, shrink-wrapped bottles, however, set them head and shoulders above the others. 10. Product quality protection. Keeping lids securely in place so oxygen-barrier lids can do their job. Fending off curious in-store samplers who pop off lids, dip a finger to taste and press lids back in place is another of the benefits of shrink packaging cups, bottles and jars. With so much to offer, is it any wonder that so many packagers turn to shrink packaging of their primary containers? It's a sure way to revitalize an existing package, or, as Triarc demonstrates with WhipperSnapple, make a dramatic market entry.

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